Bedwetting and teenagers

Bedwetting and teenagers

Adolescence is a sensitive time for young people. Teenagers who wet the bed can have particular difficulties forming close relationships and may avoid certain social situations. An effective treatment plan can be life-changing.

Although the prevalence of enuresis decreases with age, around 5% of 10 year-olds wet the bed,1 and up to around 2% of 19 year-olds still experience bedwetting.2 With age, there is an increasing tendency towards more severe enuresis, with approximately 48% of 19 year-old patients wetting the bed every night.2 The likelihood of spontaneous resolution decreases in those who are wet most or every night.

Impact of bedwetting on teenagers

As children grow older, more social situations that are problematic with enuresis are likely to arise (e.g. nights away from home, romantic relationships) and the stigma attached to bedwetting may feel more significant as patients go through puberty and adolescence. Social problems associated with bedwetting may become more acute and concerns for the future may play on patients’ minds, as reflected in patients’ quotes below. Research shows that adolescents who wet the bed have significantly higher scores on social anxiety compared with controls, including fear of negative evaluation, general social avoidance and distress, and social avoidance and distress in new situations.3

For parents of teenagers who wet the bed, there may be growing frustration about the laundering and practical tasks involved in dealing with bedwetting, particularly if the young person is reluctant to help with these tasks, despite being perceived as capable of doing so.4

Quotations from teenage patients

Treatment of teenage patients

Those still bedwetting in their teenage years tend to have more frequent bedwetting and a low probability of the condition resolving without proactive management.2 Given the emotional and physical challenges that occur in adolescence, bedwetting can be a highly distressing problem for these young people at a sensitive time. Some may have sought treatment for the condition previously without success, others may have been too embarrassed to seek treatment, or they and their parents may have been unaware that effective treatments are available. It is important for health professionals to assess each individual and their circumstances carefully, and to choose the most appropriate treatment plan.6 It is also paramount that professionals make provision to follow up these patients closely to monitor treatment efficacy and patient wellbeing. Establishing a rapport and trust is key to engaging the young person in their treatment decisions and increases treatment compliance and hence likelihood of success.

Quotations from Healthcare Professionals


  1. Kiddoo D. Nocturnal enuresis. BMJ Clin Evid. 2011;2011:0305.
  2. Yeung CK, Sreedhar B, Sihoe JDY, Sit FKY, Lau J. Differences in characteristics of nocturnal enuresis between children and adolescents: a critical appraisal from a large epidemiological study. BJU Int. 2006;97(5):1069-1073. doi:10.1111/j.1464-410X.2006.06074.x
  3. Eray Ş, Tekcan D, Baran Y. More anxious or more shy? Examining the social anxiety levels of adolescents with primary enuresis nocturna: a controlled study. J Pediatr Urol. 2019;15(4):343.e1-343.e5. doi:10.1016/j.jpurol.2019.04.002
  4. Morison MJ. Living with a young person who wets the bed: the families’ experience. Br J Nurs. 2000;9(9):572-574, 576, 578 passim. doi:10.12968/bjon.2000.9.9.6294
  5. Whale K, Cramer H, Joinson C. Left behind and left out: The impact of the school environment on young people with continence problems. Br J Health Psychol. 2018;23(2):253-277. doi:10.1111/bjhp.12284
  6. Haig M. Bedwetting in teenage girls. Women’s Health Medicine. 2005;2(6):44-45. doi:10.1383/wohm.2005.2.6.44