Is it normal to pee when laughing or coughing?

As uncomfortable as it may be, it is recommended that you talk to a health care professional about urine leakages for treatment.

Ever heard someone say they peed their pants a little from laughing too hard or from being startled? Apparently, more people (especially women) tend to experience this quite often, with Healthline estimating that 13% of women between 19 and 44 years will develop the condition known as stress urinary incontinence. This figure goes up to 22% among women aged between 45 and 64 years.

Stress urinary incontinence

This occurs when small bits of urine leaks out of the bladder as a result of excess pressure on the abdomen. More women than men experience this, with women who have given birth vaginally twice as likely to let out small amounts of pee than those who delivered via caesarean. According to Dr Varuna Raizada, a urogynaecologist at Scripps clinic, stress urinary incontinence:

has nothing to do with mental stress, but it can cause mental stress. It has more to do with physical pressure or stress on the bladder.

It often occurs during activities that exert extra pressure on the abdomen including coughing, sneezing, laughing, lifting and jumping.

Getty/ Shidlovski


According Dr Raizada, four in 10 women get urinary incontinence during pregnancy, though it usually goes away after childbirth.

Apart from childbirth, other factors that can cause you to lose urine when performing any of the above activities include family history of the condition.

Also, obesity, coupled with ageing, can trigger SUI in some people. Lifestyle choices such as smoking and consumption of carbonated drinks can cause stress urinary incontinence. Some risk factors are:

  • pelvic surgery
  • chronic constipation
  • chronic pelvic pain
  • low back pain
  • pelvic organ prolapse

Read more:

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The good news is, depending on the cause, doctors can recommend treatments from physical therapy, medication or surgery. Dr. Raizada added:

You do not have to live with something that can be treated. Treatment depends on the cause and severity of the problem. The simplest and safest treatments are usually tried first.
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