Legacy Women's Health


You shouldn’t have to squeeze when you sneeze

You shouldn’t have to squeeze when you sneezeIt’s not uncommon for a woman to leak when she sneezes – or laughs, or runs, or coughs. Leaking urine, also known as urinary incontinence, affects many women. But you really shouldn’t have to squeeze when you sneeze, because there are steps you can take to stop a leaky bladder and stay dry.

This type of bladder leak, called stress urinary incontinence, is caused by pressure on the pelvic floor muscles. Factors such as pregnancy, childbirth, excess weight and smoking cause additional stress to a woman’s pelvic floor muscles and can result in leaking. Our San Antonio OBGYNs offer detailed information about female urinary incontinence.

The right time to practice the squeeze when you sneeze

The “squeeze” that women do instinctively is actually part of a pelvic exercise called the Knack. This technique isn’t intended to be a long-term solution, but rather a short-term practice to avoid leaking urine. The Knack is three simple steps you can use when you feel a sneeze or cough coming on:

1. Stand up straight or sit away from the back of your chair.
2. Tighten your pelvic floor muscles and concentrate on pulling them up.
3. Hold the contraction through the end of the cough or sneeze.

The Knack can be practiced at home to master the technique.

Once you’ve got the short-term technique down, you can begin an exercise that provides long-term benefits. Kegel exercises have been proven to retrain and strengthen pelvic floor muscles, so you won’t need to keep doing the squeeze when you sneeze. To practice Kegel exercises:

1. Empty your bladder.
2. Sit down or lie down.
3. Tightly contract your pelvic floor muscles and hold for five seconds.
4. Repeat the Kegel exercise 10 times.

Find several times every day to complete a set of Kegel exercises. Doing regular, ongoing Kegels can greatly reduce bladder leaks.

Working with a physical therapist who specializes in pelvic floor therapy also can provide benefits.

Lifestyle changes

In addition to pelvic exercises, lifestyle changes have been shown to decrease leaking urine.

  • Dietary changes: Decrease alcohol, artificial sweeteners, caffeine, carbonated drinks, citrus fruits, tomatoes and spicy foods.
  • Lose weight: Extra weight puts extra pressure on the pelvic floor muscles.
  • Stop smoking.

Medical treatment for leaking urine

When pelvic floor exercises and lifestyle changes aren’t effective, medical interventions for bladder leaks, including non-surgical and surgical options, are available. Our San Antonio OBGYNs note a few of the most common treatments:

  • A pessary – A removable device that is inserted into the vagina to support the pelvic organs and stop leaks
  • Bulking agents – Injected into the walls of the urethra to make them thicker and aid in stopping the flow
  • A sling procedure – Surgery to support the bladder and urethra to reduce leaking

Even if it is common, you don’t have to settle for doing the squeeze when you sneeze. Our San Antonio OBGYNs want to help you stop leaking urine and be able to laugh, sneeze, cough and run without worry. Contact Legacy Women’s Health for an appointment with our San Antonio OBGYNs.