Peeing While Coughing? This Could be Why – Boom Home Medical
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Stress Incontinence (Why do I Pee When I Cough?)

by Valerie Ulene 03 Apr 2024

If you’ve ever found yourself wondering why you pee when you cough–or laugh, sneeze, jump, or run–you’re not alone. Many women ask themselves the very same thing. 

In the simplest terms, the answer is ‘stress incontinence’. 

What is Stress Incontinence?

Stress incontinence is the involuntary loss of urine triggered by activities that increase pressure inside the belly or abdomen, like coughing or sneezing. It develops when the muscles in the pelvis that support the bladder and urinary tract weaken—something that commonly happens as people age.  

Stress incontinence is far more common in older adults than in younger people. Additionally, women who have been pregnant and delivered vaginally are at risk for developing stress incontinence as are post-menopausal women and men who have undergone prostate surgery.

Common Triggers for Stress Incontinence

  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Laughing
  • Lifting objects
  • Having sex
  • Exercising

Although leaks can happen at any time, they’re more likely to occur when the bladder is full.

Impact on Daily Life

Stress incontinence can have a huge impact on people’s lives. For example, it prevents many people from engaging in the day-to-day activities that they enjoy most. Tennis players stop playing tennis, joggers stop jogging, and weightlifters stop lifting—all in an attempt to prevent embarrassing leakage. 

To many, these activities are more than just hobbies; they are things that bring them great joy, keep them physically fit, and connect them to others socially. In some cases, the consequences of giving them up can be quite profound and include feelings of isolation and low self-esteem.

8 Ways to Manage & Treat Stress Incontinence

There are a variety of things that can be done to manage and treat symptoms of stress incontinence. Some are straightforward and involve simple changes in lifestyle and behavior, while others necessitate close medical oversight by a doctor or healthcare professional.

Simple lifestyle modifications and exercises can go a long way in alleviating symptoms of stress incontinence. Here are a few strategies that have been found to be effective:

1. Fluid Management

Drinking a lot all at once can cause the bladder to fill up quickly and worsen stress incontinence. Instead, try consuming smaller amounts of fluids slowly over the course of the day.

2. Smoking Cessation

Smokers are more likely to suffer from incontinence than non-smokers. (1) Smoking can also cause a chronic cough, which puts stress on the pelvic floor muscles and worsens incontinence, stress incontinence in particular.

3. Scheduled Bathroom Trips

Going to the bathroom at regular intervals throughout the day can help prevent your bladder from overfilling and reduce the likelihood of leaks. Also, whenever possible, empty your bladder completely before engaging in activities that might cause leakage (for example, before going on a walk or playing pickleball).

4. Regular Exercise

  • Pelvic floor muscle exercises (AKA Kegels). Kegel exercises involve squeezing, holding, and then relaxing the pelvic muscles. Regularly performing them strengthens the muscles that support the bladder and urethra (the tube that carries urine out of the body) and doing 8 or 10 repetitions of them three or four times a day can go a long way in preventing bladder leakage.
  • Core Strengthening Exercises. Some people find that exercises that strengthen the abdominal muscles reduce symptoms of stress incontinence. Exercises to improve core strength include planks, crunches, and sit ups.
  • Pilates. Pilates exercises improve both core and pelvic floor strength and, in at least one study, have been shown to reduce stress incontinence symptoms.(2)

5. Pelvic Floor Therapy

Pelvic floor therapy is a type of specialized physical therapy that focuses on strengthening the pelvic floor muscles. Trained therapists use techniques like biofeedback to teach Kegels and other exercises to help prevent bladder leaks.

6. Weight Management

Being overweight increases pressure on the bladder and pelvic floor muscles and exacerbates incontinence. For individuals whose body mass index is outside the healthy range, achieving and maintaining a healthy weight can help alleviate symptoms of urinary incontinence.

7. Breathing Techniques

Although additional research is needed, a study published in 2022 found diaphragmatic breathing exercises might be effective in improving incontinence symptoms.(3)

8. Surgery

When conservative treatments like lifestyle changes and exercise aren’t successful and symptoms of stress incontinence persist, sometimes surgery to decrease or prevent urine leakage is indicated. There are several different types of surgery that can be done but, in general, each involves lifting and supporting the bladder and/or urethra.

Stress Incontinence Products That Make Life Easier 

Inevitably, at some point in life, everyone finds them facing a health issue and in need of a bit of help. But, almost without exception, the home health products that are available to them are poorly designed and unattractive. They simply look and feel like the hospital.

At Boom Home Medical, we believe that everyone deserves to care for themselves without shame or embarrassment. So, we’ve created beautifully designed, innovative, and easy to use products that fit seamlessly into people’s lives and homes.

The Loona Bedside Urinal

Designed by women for individuals with female anatomy, Loona is an elegant portable urinal. This urination device, also known as a female urinal or pee bottle, blends functionality with sophistication. 

Loona can be used at night standing or sitting on the edge of a bed. Its unique design makes it quiet to use, so you’re less likely to wake a partner in the middle of the night. It’s perfect for women with stress incontinence who are worried about finding a bathroom when they’re out of the house. All you need is a private place to use it; its snap-close lid helps prevent spills when you’re on the go.

With its discreet and stylish design, Loona redefines the experience of a portable urinal. In fact, it’s so pretty that no one will even know what it is!  Loona comes in three designer colors- Coral Dream, Moon Grey, and Loona Blue. 

Washable, Absorbent Incontinence Underwear

Boom Absorbent Underwear are perfect for those unexpected small bladder leaks caused by stress incontinence. Designed to be both stylish and comfortable, its three-layer construction provides all-day protection, ensuring you remain fresh, dry, and confident. The top layer efficiently wicks moisture away from the skin, the middle layer absorbs and locks liquid in place, and the outer layer protects your clothes from embarrassing stains.

Incontinence underwear provide you with the freedom to get back to your life and the activities you enjoy.

Reusable and easy to care for, Boom Absorbent Underwear are convenient—simply wear, wash, and wear again—and eco-friendly (far better than disposable panty liners). Available in two stylish options, Classic and Lace, our underwear offers a look suitable for every occasion. And they’re FSA- and HSA-eligible!


Pantyliners are thin, absorbent pads worn inside underwear. Most have a sticky adhesive backing to secure them in place, and some have “wings” that wrap around the sides of underwear and provide additional security and protection. While panty liners are not a solution to stress incontinence, they are a simple and practical way to help manage many of the inconveniences associated with it.

The Final Word on Stress Incontinence

Talking about incontinence is challenging. It’s a sensitive topic that leaves most people feeling vulnerable and embarrassed. 

However, talking about incontinence is really the first step to feeling better. Only when your doctor or healthcare provider knows what you’re experiencing can they provide you with the resources you need to get better. 

Although stress incontinence can be challenging to manage, there are people and treatments to help. If you haven’t done so already, consider consulting with a healthcare professional.  Help is available for the asking.

FAQS about Stress Incontinence

Why do I experience stress incontinence when I cough or laugh?

Stress incontinence occurs when physical activities like coughing or laughing increase pressure inside the abdomen, putting stress on the bladder and causing it to leak urine. It tends to develop when the pelvic muscles—the muscles that support the bladder and urinary tract—get weaker, something that commonly happens as people age. Stress incontinence is most common in women who have reached menopause, particularly those who have been pregnant and delivered vaginally. 

Can stress incontinence be managed without medical intervention?

Yes, stress incontinence can often be managed without medical intervention. In fact, many people see real improvements when they simply begin doing pelvic floor exercises regularly. However, if exercises are not effective, consulting a healthcare provider for advice is recommended.

How does Boom Home Medical's Loona help during the night?

Many people with stress incontinence also have difficulty sleeping through the night without using the bathroom, a condition called nocturia. Boom Home Medical's Loona allows them to comfortably urinate bedside rather than walking back and forth to the toilet in the dark. This not only eliminates the risk of nighttime falls, it improves health and wellness in other ways, including improving sleep.

Are absorbent underwear comfortable for everyday use?

Yes, Boom Home Medical’s absorbent underwear is designed to be both comfortable and functional, making it suitable for everyday use. Made of materials that are highly absorbent as well as soft, breathable, and lightweight, it manages moisture without sacrificing comfort or causing irritation. With styles that feel and look just like regular underwear you can be discrete and confident every day.

Can stress incontinence be completely cured or is it a lifelong condition?

Stress incontinence can often be significantly improved and effectively managed to the point where symptoms cause minimal disruption to people’s lives. In some instances, this can be done entirely with lifestyle and behavioral changes; in other cases, surgery is required. 

Whether or not stress incontinence can be completely cured depends on a number of different things, including its severity and underlying cause. Everyone is different and it's essential to consult with a healthcare provider for a personalized assessment and treatment plan.


1. Am J of Ob Gyn. Vol 167; Issue 5. November 1992, pages 1213-1218.

2. J Altern Complement Med. February 2020; 26(2): 158–161.
Published online 2020 Feb 4.

3. J Bodyw Mov Ther. 2022 Jan:29:146-153. doi: 10.1016/j.jbmt.2021.10.002. Epub 2021 Oct 20.

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