How to Avoid Leakage when Coughing and Sneezing

How to Avoid Leakage when Coughing and Sneezing

Abdominal pressure caused by sneezing, coughing, vomiting, jumping, or weight lifting, can cause urine leakage and pelvic organ prolapse (can be identified as a heavy feeling in the vagina) in women that have a weakened pelvic floor. In this blogpost we give you recommendations and techniques to avoid leakage when coughing and sneezing. This way you can protect your body and pelvic area.

Do I damage my pelvic floor when I cough?

Chronic coughing and sneezing can lead to a damaged pelvic floor over time. However, if your pelvic floor is already weakened, you may already present symptoms such as urinary (stress) incontinence, in the form of sudden leakage when coughing or sneezing. This can be both a perplexing and embarrassing experience for women. A sneeze can happen anywhere and at any time, but no one wants to live in constant fear of peeing themselves in public. That, or having to wear a pad or diaper as a preventative measure.

When you cough or sneeze, the heavy feeling in the vagina or urinary leakage, occurs due to the sudden abdominal pressure that is exerted and directed towards your pelvic area through the diaphragm and abdominal muscles.

First of all, this is not your fault, and you are not doing anything wrong. The movement of pressure is the natural movement of the muscles before sneezing, coughing, or lifting weight. It can also occur when you vomit or have nausea.

The problem is, that the pelvic floor may be weak, and receiving this pressure, only weakens it further. Therefore, it is important that this area receives minimal impact during these bouts of sudden pressure.

What to do to protect your pelvic floor and avoid leakage

For these situations, here are two very simple ways to improve and protect your pelvic floor:

  1. Do not hold back. If you need to sneeze or cough, do not try to contain it. Let the pressure out through the mouth. If you contain it, all that pressure will stay internal and affects the pelvic area which only proves to further damage your pelvic floor.
  2. Anticipate. Before sneezing, lifting weight, or if you feel nauseous… Contract the muscles as follows, that will help you protect your inner pelvic organs:
    1. Contract your abdomen by firmly directing your navel back into your body. Thus, you avoid the pressure that is otherwise automatically directed to the pelvic area.
    2. Strongly contract your pelvic floor moments before the time of sudden pressure. If you do not already know how to do this refer back to this post.

These habits will help to protect the pelvic organs (uterus, bladder and rectum) and prevent urine leakage and pelvic organ prolapse. You can also find this information on how to protect yourself in the Bwom app’s custom plans.

Have you ever experienced stress incontinence? How do you usually try to avoid leakage when coughing and sneezing?

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