Why Does My Bladder Leak When I Cough?

If this has ever happened to you, you know how embarrassing (and a little scary) a bladder leak can be, especially the first time. Then it begins to occur more frequently. Is it normal as I grow older, and why does my bladder leak when I cough?

Stress Urinary Incontinence

The medical name for leaking urine with activity such as coughing, laughing, and sneezing is stress urinary incontinence or SUI. When there is an increase in abdominal pressure and it puts stress on the bladder and urethra, leakage can occur. SUI becomes common with certain movements like when you cough, laugh, sneeze, bend, lift or jump. The leakage may not happen every time you do one of these things, but when your bladder is full, it is more likely.

More common in women than men, about 22% of women between the ages of 45-64 live with stress urinary incontinence. Many decide to limit social activities due to the embarrassment.

SUI is not the same as with an overactive bladder, where you get a sudden urge and cannot control urination before you get to a bathroom. This is a different condition.

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What Causes Stress Urinary Incontinence?

There are a number of factors that contribute to SUI. Although men can experience SUI, it is more prevalent in women, and especially those who have given birth. Pregnancy and childbirth weaken pelvic floor muscles adding to the problem.

In addition, a woman who has given birth vaginally is twice as likely to develop stress urinary incontinence as a woman who had a cesarean birth.

Some other significant risk factors for developing SUI include the following:

  • Obesity
  • Smoking which causes frequent coughing
  • Chronic constipation
  • Prior pelvic surgery
  • Pelvic organ prolapse
  • Weight gain

Recommended Treatments for SUI

Strengthening your pelvic floor is a first line of defense to help control stress urinary incontinence, so ask Urology Specialists for pelvic floor kegel exercises and begin them even before giving birth.

Avoiding caffeine and practicing timed urination can help decrease the incidence.

Talk with Urology Specialists if you are experiencing leakage you think may be stress urinary incontinence. The best and most definitive cure is an outpatient surgical procedure. Talk to your doctor today!

As always, if you have any further questions or would like to schedule an appointment, please call (605) 336-0635 today.

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