The Dreaded Covid Cough

The Covid Cough: How to Avoid Prolapse Deterioration 

2020 started like any other year, but just a few weeks later, Covid became a massive part of our lives. Back then, we didn’t know how much it would control what we did on a daily basis, and we also had no idea that our lives would still be affected so dramatically almost two years later.

Pelvic organ prolapse affects 50% of women globally at some point in their lives. That is a massive statistic. As we have discussed so many times before, this topic is taboo. But how can it be taboo given this crazy statistic? Why do so many of us feel like we still have to keep it our “dirty secret”? There is still not enough education about pelvic health for pregnant women, new mums, or women entering perimenopause. In fact, there is not enough education for any woman out there. Things need to change and fast.

With the arrival of Covid also came some awful side effects, one being a cough. Unfortunately, coughing is also a significant risk factor for the worsening of prolapse symptoms. Coughing forces the pelvic organs to move downwards, and as a consequence of this, the pelvic floor tissues can stretch, the pelvic floor can weaken, and prolapse symptoms can worsen. Throughout 2020 and 2021, the “Covid cough” was and continues to be a major contributor to the deterioration of prolapse symptoms. But what can we do to help ourselves?


It’s all about the Knack Technique

The Knack Technique is crucial when protecting your pelvic floor…especially when coughing. Coughing is an involuntary reflex that we can’t always prevent, but we can do everything possible to reduce the further worsening of our prolapse symptoms. But what is the Knack Technique? The Knack Technique is a strong pelvic floor contraction (lifting and squeezing the pelvic floor muscles) immediately before and during a cough. It is designed to reduce bladder movement downwards during coughing. Alongside the Knack Technique, research has found other ways to minimise risk. These include:

  • Sitting rather than standing while coughing
  • Coughing softly rather than a strong, exaggerated, hacking cough

Easier said than done, but by consciously following these basic principles, you could be doing yourself a massive favour. However, a continuous cough is often unavoidable, particularly when it is a symptom of Covid. Sometimes, just clenching those muscles and coughing gently just isn’t enough. But are there any other options? Is there anything else that can help? Well yes. Many women find that supporting the perineum by applying pressure to the outside of their vagina (with their hand) can make the prolapse feel more supported. So, get cupping those vaginas when coughing, ladies.


Let’s talk about the “Huff Technique”

The Huff Technique is a chest clearance process designed to reduce the need for repeated or forceful coughing. It can be hugely beneficial for women with prolapse who need to clear a build-up of phlegm and minimise coughing where possible. It can be very effective for many women. Think of it like you are trying to steam up a mirror that is directly in front of you. This nhs video provides guidance on the correct technique:

Active Cycle of Breathing Technique (ACBT) - Bing video


Saying all this, the best way to avoid further damage to our pelvic floor when experiencing a cough is to achieve a healthy, functioning pelvic floor in the first place. Now that’s not just about doing 300 Kegels a day, as this isn’t the answer for everyone. It’s not one size fits all when it comes to our pelvic health. Achieving a functioning pelvic floor is about a whole-body approach. In the Pelvic Power Movement Community, we do look at pelvic exercises, but we also focus on breathing techniques, posture, mental well-being, and relaxation. Because although many professionals still recommend Kegels as a great FREE way of improving pelvic floor function, many women don’t realise that relaxation of pelvic floor muscles is just as important. If a muscle is constantly in a state of spasm, which can occur with pelvic floor muscles, how can it be working effectively?


We Need to Help Ourselves!

So, ladies, can coughing make prolapse symptoms worse? Unfortunately, yes. But the good news is we can do things to try and reduce further deterioration. In summary, if you have Covid cough or any other form of cough, then sit down, grab your crotch and try to keep your coughing as gentle as possible. Educate yourself on the Knack Technique, learn about the Huff Technique, and use these to your advantage. Please also ensure that you seek medical advice if the cough is persistent and either won’t improve or is actually getting worse.


Over in the Pelvic Power Movement Community, we regularly discuss topics such as this. Please reach out to the community if you have any concerns about your general pelvic health, prolapse symptoms, leakage, or anything relating to the matter discussed in this blog. Everyone is welcome to join us for information, support, advice and friendship. Pelvic Power Movement Community | Facebook




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