Why do I Pee when I Cough? Am I alone?

Why do I pee when I cough


If you’re a woman and you’ve ever wondered why you pee when you cough you are not alone! Seventy per cent of women over 40 in a recent poll we conducted said they have suffered bladder leakage when they coughed, laughed or sneezed1.

Some women adapt to the situation by crossing their legs when they feel a cough coming whilst others opt to wear incontinence pads just in case they are caught out. Whilst leaking urine in this way is common, the good news is that you can take steps to prevent bladder leakage from happening! Read on …

Why do you pee when you cough?

The reason why you pee when you cough is all down to stress incontinence which affects up to 50% of women who experience bladder leakage2. When you cough, it exerts increased pressure inside your abdomen, in turn increasing pressure on your bladder so, if your Pelvic Floor muscles aren’t as strong as they could be, urine can leak out.

Pelvic Floor muscles tend to weaken after childbirth or approaching the menopause as oestrogen levels decline. You can read more about the causes of weak Pelvic Floor muscles here.

The simplest way to stop yourself having a pee when you cough is to develop a regular habit of doing your Pelvic Floor muscle exercises. Much as you would brush your teeth twice daily to prevent tooth decay, doing your Pelvic Floor exercises (sometimes referred to as Kegel exercises) regularly will help strengthen your Pelvic Floor and you will start to be aware that you leak less when you cough. For some women this may take up to 12 weeks whilst for others it may be quicker. It depends on the individual.

How to locate your Pelvic Floor and do your exercises correctly

We recommend you watch the short video by consultant physiotherapist and clinical director for Pelviva, Julia Herbert which clearly explains both how to locate your Pelvic Floor and how to do your Pelvic Floor exercises correctly.

Many women benefit from mastering ‘The Knack’ which is when you consciously draw up your Pelvic Floor muscles just before you cough to help prevent any urine leaking out. You could try this once you feel confident about doing your Pelvic Floor exercises correctly.

However, if, like up to 50% of women, you find Pelvic Floor exercises difficult3,4 or feel you’re not doing them quite right, perhaps because you are inadvertently squeezing your bottom or holding your breath, you may benefit from using our Pelvic Floor trainer, Pelviva®, which helps your brain to reconnect with your Pelvic Floor.

What is Pelviva?

Pelviva is a disposable device which is inserted like a tampon. Once positioned inside the vagina it sends pulses directly to the Pelvic Floor muscles retraining them in how to contract and essentially doing your Pelvic Floor exercises for you. It mimics what should happen naturally and improves Pelvic Floor muscle strength and endurance, treating the cause of bladder leakage. 84% of women using Pelviva reported improved bladder control after just 12 weeks.5

Consultant Physiotherapist Julia Herbert, is passionate about helping more women break free from the inconvenience of bladder leakage, saying, “It’s not surprising that some women find it difficult to do their Pelvic Floor exercises as they can’t see the muscles they are supposed to be exercising. It can also be tricky for women to know they are doing their Pelvic Floor exercises correctly and many, through no fault of their own, squeeze the wrong muscles which will not have any effect on their Pelvic Floor strength.

“This is where Pelviva can help. It’s clinically proven to treat bladder leakage after 12 weeks although many women do feel benefits earlier than that, such as their Pelvic Floor muscles getting noticeably stronger and improved control. Pelviva is also great at telling your brain where your Pelvic Floor muscles are so you know for definite you’re doing your exercises correctly; after all many of us haven’t consciously thought about these muscles since we were potty trained which explains why it can be difficult to strengthen them yourself as an adult!”


  1. Femeda data on file. Survey of 2000 women over 40. Aug 2019
    2. Hunskaar S, Lose G, Sykes D, Voss S. The prevalence of urinary incontinence in women in four European countries. BJU Int. 2004 Feb;93(3):324-30.
    3. Bø K., Larsen S., Oseid S. et al. (1988) Knowledge about and ability to correct pelvic floor muscle exercises in women with stress urinary incontinence. Neurology and Urodynamics. 69, 261-262.
    4. Bump R.C., Hunt W.G., Fantl J.A., Wyman J.F. (1991). Assessment of Kegel pelvic muscle exercise performance after brief verbal instruction. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. 165, 322- 329.
  2. Oldham J, Herbert J, McBride K. Evaluation of a new disposable ‘tampon-like’ electrostimulation technology (Pelviva®) for the treatment of urinary incontinence in women: a 12-week single blind randomized controlled trial. Neurourology Urodynamics 2013; 32(5):460-466. doi 10.1002/nau.22326.


PEL/00160/UK 28.04.20

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