Preteen Bedwetting Is More Common Than You May Think

Preteen enuresis is not uncommon and can be treated

If your preteen is still wetting his bed at night, don't despair. It is likely that a few of his classmates are doing the same. A preteen who sleeps very deeply can experience this, for example—even the need to pee doesn't wake him up. Bed wetting, also called enuresis, is a common problem and about three percent of all 14-year-olds wet the bed at night. Nocturnal enuresis is the involuntary urination while sleeping by a person who would normally be able to control urination at their age.

It is much more common in boys, but does happen with girls as well.

Types and Causes of Enuresis

Bed wetting can be divided into two main types:

  • Primary Nocturnal Enuresis: Refers to persistent involuntary nighttime urination where the child has never had a dry night.
  • Secondary Nocturnal Enuresis: Refers to an onset of nighttime bed wetting after a dry period of at least six months.

Three of the most common reasons for primary nocturnal enuresis are:

  • Genetic predisposition: 75 percent of children who wet the bed have parents who had the same problem as a child.
  • Deep sleeping: Studies suggest that children who wet the bed are very hard to wake up and have a hard time waking to an alarm clock.
  • Reduced production of vasopressin: An anti-diuretic hormone (ADH) that directs the kidney to concentrate the body's urine so your bladder doesn't overfill.

Two of the most common reasons for secondary nocturnal enuresis are:

  • Urinary tract infection (UTI)
  • Diabetes
  • Structural abnormalities in the urinary tract
  • Constipation
  • Stressful situations at home or school

Seeking Medical Help

A bed wetting preteen is not lazy. They are not undisciplined. They have a problem and will need the help of a physician. Even though most preteens will grow out of this condition in time, it will benefit your child if you seen help for the situation, as this is a sensitive time in the development of their self-esteem, which can be affected.

What to Expect During the Enuresis Exam

Seeking the help of a physician will help. When you take your child in for an examination, the doctor will ask questions relating to the situation. You and your child should be prepared to answer questions about:

  • You and your family's health history, past and present.
  • Your concerns and questions.
  • Any medications your child may be taking.
  • Allergies your child may have.
  • Sleep patterns.
  • Urinary symptoms.
  • Bowel habits.
  • Stress at home or at school.

Your visit will also likely include a urine culture and urinalysis to look for signs of infection or disease that may be a cause.


Don't make a big deal out of a wet bed. Use this as an opportunity to show your preteen how to strip the sheets and do a load of wash.

  • Never punish your preteen for wetting the bed.
  • If you were a bed wetter, share your experiences with your preteen.
  • Keep this between your preteen and yourself. Sharing this problem with other family members or friends will only serve to embarrass your preteen.
  • Find positive things to focus your conversations on. Don't let the only communication you have with your preteenager be about bed wetting.

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