National Continence Helpline

8am - 8pm Monday to Friday AEST Talk to a continence nurse

Leaking when coughing or sneezing

Get help from a health care professional, or talk to your supervisor or care coordinator if:

  • the amount and frequency of urine leaking increases
  • the person tells you they have a bulge from their vagina or anus.

Stress incontinence

Leaking small amounts of urine when you cough, sneeze, run, change positions or lift things is called stress incontinence. This is more common in women, but it sometimes happens to men after prostate surgery.

People with stress incontinence can feel embarrassed and not want to go out because they are worried about having an accident in public.

What can you do to help?

If the person you support has stress incontinence, you can:

  • speak to them, their family, your supervisor or their general practitioner (GP) who can refer the person for a continence assessment so the stress incontinence can be treated
  • encourage them to keep drinking - if they cut down the amount they drink, the incontinence could get worse
  • suggest they limit the amounts of drinks with caffeine or alcohol, as these can irritate the bladder
  • check the person isn't constipated, because straining to open their bowels can cause stress incontinence
  • suggest they see a specialist physiotherapist or continence nurse advisor to learn pelvic floor muscle exercises, as these can be a very useful treatment for stress incontinence
  • encourage a healthy lifestyle. Giving up smoking, losing weight and getting treatment for chronic coughs can all help reduce stress incontinence. Refer the person to their GP for help.

Need more help? Call the National Continence Helpline on 18OO 33 OO 66 and talk to a continence nurse advisor.

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This information is not a substitute for independent professional advice.