Is It Normal for Teenagers to
Wet the Bed?

Wetting the bed affects more teenagers than you may have expected - read on to find out why it happens and how to help.

Is It Normal for Teenagers to Wet the Bed?

Wetting the bed affects more teenagers than you may have expected - read on to find out why it happens and how to help.

While it’s more common in children under the age of 6, bedwetting during teenage years is not uncommon. It’s estimated that 3% of adolescents in the UK have nocturnal enuresis, with about 1% continuing on into adulthood, affecting both young women and men alike [1].

There are two different types of nocturnal enuresis, defined as [2]:

  • Primary nocturnal enuresis where the individual has not had a dry night for at least 6 months

  • Secondary nocturnal enuresis where the individual, after having dry nights for at least 6 months, begins bedwetting again

Teen incontinence can have a significant effect on the emotional state of the young person experiencing it, and it’s important to remember that bedwetting isn’t their fault or under their control. Read on to find out what can contribute to the condition and the steps you can take to help them overcome it.

What causes bedwetting in teens?

There are a multitude of reasons why bedwetting might continue into adolescence, including:

  • The body making a large amount of urine at night

  • Having a small bladder capacity

  • Sleeping deeply and being unable to wake properly

  • Daytime bladder problems such as not fully emptying

  • The use of some medicines 

  • Genetics and family history of bedwetting

While the above reasons aren’t necessarily cause for concern, it’s important to remember that nocturnal enuresis could also be caused by underlying conditions, such as [3,4]:

  • Allergies which can block the nose or upper airways while asleep, or sleep apnea

  • A urinary tract infection

  • Bladder or kidney disease

  • Constipation

  • Experiencing stress that considerably impacts their mental wellbeing, such as parental divorce, grief or other major life event

  • In rare conditions, neurological disease

It is important to ensure you take your teen to see their GP to discuss their bedwetting in order to rule out any underlying health conditions that may be contributing to the issue. Oftentimes when there is a health problem (eg, a UTI or constipation), treating it can be the first step to overcoming nocturnal enuresis.=

What are the psychological impacts of bedwetting in teenagers?

The impact that bedwetting has on the mental health of teenagers experiencing it has been studied, with a range of adverse outcomes being observed including [5]:

  • Higher levels of depressive symptoms

  • Higher reports of peer victimisation

  • Lower confidence and poor self-esteem

  • Problems with peer relationships

A 2023 UK study also looked into the longer term mental health effects on those with teen incontinence. The study found evidence to support that adolescents experiencing bedwetting or continence problems have an increased risk of developing psychological issues when older, with these adults reporting higher rates of depression and depressive symptoms, including low self esteem and suicidal ideation [6].

To avoid contributing to any existing emotional and mental health distress your teenager may be experiencing as a result of their bedwetting, it is important to handle the situation with support and compassion, and encourage them to talk to you about their feelings and experiences.

If your child is particularly distressed about their bedwetting and are concerned about their mental health, booking them in with their GP and encouraging them to be given professional advice on what psychological support services are available to them is the first step to help alleviate any current, future or ongoing mental health problems

What can I do to help manage teen bedwetting?

There are many options available to manage teen nighttime incontinence, and the first step in treatment is to see a GP or other health professional such as a continence nurse or continence physiotherapist for a review. They will be able to conduct any necessary testing (including tests to rule out any underlying conditions) and suggest treatments best suited to the individual needs of your child. 

There are also some things you can do at home to help them and help manage their condition, including:

  • Limiting certain food and drinks
    There are certain foods and drinks, such as caffeine or spicy foods, that can irritate the bladder more than others. Try to identify with your child if there are any foods or drinks that they consume on the night’s they wet the bed, and see if limiting them or avoiding them helps them to stay dry. It might help to keep note of the foods and drinks that make their condition worse in a diary.

  • Plan for easy cleanup
    We know that bedwetting can be frustrating to experience, both by teenagers and their parents. That’s why ConfidenceClub has a range of products, including youth pull-up pants and bedding, that can help with quick clean up when it happens.

    Our Magics Youth Pants are specially for children up to the age of 15, and are a great option for nighttime underwear replacement for those who have outgrown the supermarket options. They’re soft, comfortable and discreet, fitting just like regular underwear but fitted with superior absorbency technology to lock away any liquid and prevent rewetting.

We also have a range of waterproof bedding that offer a fantastic reusable option to provide protection to mattresses, doonas and pillows from any overnight accidents. We also carry reusable options that are machine washable and can even be tumble dried at low temperatures!

You can see a range of options best-suited to your needs by taking our quick and easy Help Me Choose quiz, or if you have any queries you can always contact us and our product specialists will be more than happy to help.

  • Be supportive
    Remember that your teen might be feeling emotionally distressed or upset about their condition, even if it doesn’t seem like they are.

    It’s important not to tease or make a big deal about their bedwetting, and to be supportive by reminding them that they aren’t alone. Make sure you affirm your teen’s progress, too, through things like letting them know they’re brave for discussing their feelings with you, or praising them for their dry nights.

Bedwetting during adolescence may feel very distressing for any teenager experiencing it, but by seeing their doctor, using continence aids for easy clean ups, and fostering a compassionate, supportive environment, you can help them outgrow it.

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