Why Do I Pee When I Sneeze?

Why Do I Pee When I Sneeze?

Posted by Team joni on

Have you ever had an unexpected pee leak when you sneeze, laugh, or cough? You’re not alone. This is known as stress incontinence. It is commonly believed that stress incontinence occurs when the muscles that control your bladder aren't strong enough to hold in urine during sudden pressure or "stress" on your bladder, like a big sneeze, a hearty laugh, or even lifting something heavy. 


However, while that may be the case for some, bladder leaks can occur for a whole host of reasons, including when your pelvic floor muscles are tight or due to certain medications.


Let’s look at what’s going on and if there is anything you can do about it. 


Why is it Happening?

Stress incontinence is often linked to pelvic floor dysfunction. These muscles support your bladder and help control urination.


Those unexpected bladder leaks occur when your pelvic floor muscles struggle to keep the bladder closed during moments of pressure, like sneezing or laughing.


Stress incontience is common among (but not limited to) those who have experienced childbirth, menopause, chronic illness, certain medications or surgeries, or simply older age.


Bladder leak triggers include:

- Stressed, tense, or overloaded pelvic muscles
- Urinary tract infections
- Stress
- Vaginal infections
- Constipation
- Hormones
- Medications
- Pregnancy
- Tight pelvic floor muscles
- Chronic conditions including, MS, Parkinson’s and the effects of a stroke
- Ingredients that may irritate your bladder, such as artificial sweeteners or spices
- High-impact or strength-based exercises that put extra pressure on the bladder


    This list is not exhaustive. And because there are many reasons for bladder leaks, there are also many ways to manage it.


    It’s important to consult with a specialist because every body is different.


    Can You Fix It?

    There are ways to manage and improve stress incontinence but an individual response is needed specific to your body. There’s no one size fits all to incontinence and bladder support!


    The Kegel Connection

    If you have bladder leaks, you’ve likely heard, “do your Kegels!”


    Kegels are exercises that involve squeezing pelvic muscles to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. Done correctly, they can be very effective.


    But for some who have urinary incontinence because their pelvic floor muscles are too tightKegels can exacerbate the issue. This is most common for those who do weight lifting, for example. 


    Lifestyle Changes

    As with anything, maintaining your health with exercise and nutritious foods, and reducing caffeine and alcohol intake can improve bladder control, but not always. Lifestyle changes can always support you may have to go deeper for your answer. 


    Bladder Training

    Some experts recommend scheduling bathroom visits and gradually increasing the time between visits to train your bladder to hold more urine. It’s not recommended that you start doing this without it being recommended by a specialist because it can backfire. Holding back from having to pee can actually weaken your bladder over time—and lead to urinary tract infections.


    Medical Treatments

    In some cases, doctors or specialists may recommend medications, physical therapy, or even surgery.


    The main takeaway here is that everybody is different. It’s essential to determine the cause of your incontinence before adhering to a regimen. Get educated!


    Specialists like Canadian Pelvic Floor Physio and researcher Dr. Christina Prevett shares the latest information surrounding pelvic floor dysfunction.Your doctor is an important step for getting a referral based on your specific needs for a urologist, gynecologist, physical therapist, etc.


    How Can You Support Your Bladder Leaks?

    Can you use period pads for incontinence? While not designed specifically for incontinence, many customers have told us they use our organic bamboo pads for minor bladder leaks. Why? For some, it’s the stigma of purchasing incontinence products. 


    For others, they struggle with mainstream incontinence pads that  often contain petroleum-based plastics, fragrances, and chemicals that cause them irritation. Made with breathable bamboo and are free from irritants, joni pads are a comfortable option for those who experience discomfort or rashes from other products.


    We’re happy we can help! However, it is important to note that incontinence products have a different design especially for the sudden watery flow of bladder leaks and are typically highly absorbent.


    Breaking the Stigma

    Peeing when you sneeze, laugh, or cough is common and nothing to be ashamed of. Bodies are bodies and sometimes they’ll just do what they may. Let’s not judge our bodily functions and simply look at our bodies with kindness and healthy curiosity. By talking about it openly, we can learn more about our bodies and get the healthcare help and tips we need. 


    At joni, we believe in breaking these stigmas and providing products that support female health. Let's keep the conversation going and support each other in living our best, leak-free lives.


    HJ Physical Therapy, MU Health Care, and Moonrise Health which discuss the complexities of pelvic floor exercises and offer alternative treatments​ (Hulst Jepsen)​​ (MU Health Care)​​ (Moonrise)​.

    Dr. Ryan Davey: Do Kegels Work?

    Mayo Clinic: Stress Incontinence

    Anne E. Turco, Chad M. Vezina, in Neuro-Urology Research, 2023: Effect of androgens and estrogens on bladder/lower urinary tract function