How To Sneeze When You Have Stress Incontinence
An Unofficial, Non-Scientific Guide for Leakers by LeakyLily
If you have stress incontinence then we don’t have to tell you that sneezing sucks because you know it first hand. If your stress incontinence is mild, seasonal allergies or a nasty cold may be the only annual reminder that your pelvic muscles are not quite up to snuff. If you suffer with a more severe condition, sneezes are just one of the many stress inducing life events that bring on a little leak. That full-body, slightly unpredictable clenching of muscles will do you in every time.
Sneezing is Unavoidable
It’s likely that you’ll probably sneeze again at least once sometime in your life, so there are really only two solutions:
- Do everything possible to make stress incontinence disappear. As one in three women will tell you, this is much easier said than done. No one who suffers with stress incontinence deserves it; there are many forces of nature working against us to cause stress incontinence, and those who have the condition didn’t do anything bad or wrong to get it. Extreme cases may even require surgery.
- Find a coping strategy that works for you when you feel a sneeze coming on. What do you do when you know you’re going to sneeze but you don’t want to leak? Do you have a method for managing a big sneeze? We asked around and found a few ways people might try to avoid that dribble of pee:
Five Ways to Prevent Leaks When You Sneeze*
Tuck Everything In – You Got This
This method is for the brave souls who are doing pelvic control exercises regularly and want to give their body a little impromptu test. You’re gonna let the sneeze happen but you’re going to be ready for it. Onlookers will see a normal person sneezing. You will know there’s a battle going on. The key is being prepared. With that first tickle of the nose, you know the sneeze is coming. Place feet firmly on the ground, shoulder width apart so that your weight is distributed evenly. Stand tall, with firm abdomen – abdominal muscles pulled towards spine. Bend your knees a little if you feel like it; you’re getting ready for the impact here. Pull that pelvic floor up, imagining a string pulling up from the top of your head. The sneeze comes. You congratulate yourself for lightning-fast response time because posture-abdomen-pelvic floor all worked in perfect harmony and you nailed that sneeze without a leak!
Cross Your Legs – Even Better When Sitting Down
If you’re feeling a little uncertain about relying on your pelvic system to keep the leaks in, bring in the heavy-weights to do the job; add some major muscle. Crossing your legs puts your quad muscles into the game for some more power – they’re the extra blockers you’ve called into action for the “big squeeze”. If you’re standing, act casual, like you’re bored and you’re just crossing your ankles as you stand around. There’s no avoiding that sneeze, but you’re ready now. You squeeze your thighs (quad muscles) together, along with your weak pelvic muscles, right when the sneeze hits and then continue casually looking around. Perfect; you’ve just had a major “no leak” victory and you still look like you’re just hanging around! If you’re sitting down, cross your legs at the knee and the quad squeeze is even more discrete. Crossing your legs is pretty common while sitting down, so this method is particularly useful if your dealing with a (heaven forbid) multi-sneeze scenario.
Extra Support – Hand Between Legs (Privacy Please)
If you feel like a third party needs to get involved, rush to a quiet (private) space such as a coat room or behind a counter or something similar. That sneeze is coming on quickly, and it comes with a lot of force, contracting your abdominals and trying to push out a little leak. You can do this – time for Physics 101; use your hand to create an ‘equal and opposite’ force that pushes back against that contracting downward force, to keep it all in. Right when that sneeze hits you put that hand between your legs and push up (towards your head) against the impact. This method isn’t very discrete, but it gets the job done. Leaks=0, You=1.
The Controlled Sneeze – Fight It to the Extreme
Think of yourself as the bomb squad that needs to disarm the device before it blows. You’re doing everything in your power to suppress that sneeze. This is serious – a sneeze means an explosion (ie. leak) so you need a controlled detonation. You feel that tickle in your nose and know that it can’t travel past there – you hold your nose, you hold your breath, you scrunch up your face, you puff up your cheeks – anything to keep that sneeze contained to your ears, nose and throat, and far away from your abdomen. You’ve got it contained, and instead of a giant GAZOONTITE it comes out as an iddy-biddy ‘choo’ without the big build up – almost like you’re saying something quietly rather than sneezing. Well done! That sneeze doesn’t own you; you own IT!
OK Sneeze, You Win – Leaky Time
Some days, the fight just isn’t in you. That cold is dragging you down, you’re low on energy, and you feel like you’re in a losing battle. You know you’re going to leak when that sneeze hits you, but don’t let it get you down. Remember you’re not alone in this – plenty of women are with you waiting in dread for the next little reminder that their pelvic control isn’t what it once was. That’s ok. You can prepare for light leaks by wearing absorbent underwear or panty liners, and be kind to yourself by making a soothing cup of tea, refusing to blame yourself for something that’s not your fault, and maybe even laughing with a friend about your latest leak.
*None of these methods are professionally proven, recommended, or guaranteed of course. They’re simply strategies that people put into play when trying to manage stress incontinence when a sneeze is coming on. Does this happen to you? How do you manage to sneeze without leaking? Share with us.