I’m a teenager and I still wet the bed

Wetting the bed is something you think you'll grow out of when you're a child, but for some people waking up on wet sheets carries on into their teens or twenties. If this is you and you need support, we're here.

two girls sit on bed laughing

It's common, fixable, and you can totally laugh about it.

Other people don’t wet the bed so why do I?

It might seem like you’re the only teenager or young adult in the world facing this problem, but we promise you’re not.

Do you want to know just how many young people in the UK still wet the bed (according to ERIC, the bowel and bladder charity)?

230,000 under 10-25 year olds.

That’s a lot of young people, right? You’re not alone, and there’s support out there for you.

There are a number of reasons why you might be still wetting the bed:

  • You’re constipated. If you’re full of poo but can’t shift it, your bowel can press against your bladder and cause accidents.
  • You have an overactive bladder. Your bladder could be mega keen and want you to wee all the time. If you’re weeing eight or more times a day, wetting the bed more than once during the night, or wake up with little wee patches over the sheets (so you’re weeing small amounts frequently), then this is probably the cause.
  • You have low levels of vasopressin. Here comes the science. Vasopressin is the hormone that tells your kidneys to quit the wee-production at night. It’s all very clever.
  • You have a UTI. A classic. As well as being super uncomfortable and causing your wee to be smelly, cloudy or bloody, UTIs can also cause bedwetting.
  • Your brain doesn’t respond to the signals of a full bladder. Quite simply, you don’t wake up.

Is there anything I can do about it? 

Yes! For all of the possible causes above, there are treatments and support. It’s always best to see your GP first if your bedwetting is frequent or causing concern, it might feel embarrassing but this is their job and they’ve always seen worse. Available treatments include:

  • Laxatives, if you’re constipated.
  • Oxybutynin or Tolterodine, if you have an overactive bladder.
  • Desmopressin, an artificial form of vasopressin.
  • A bedwetting alarm, if you’re not waking up to wee. These alarms go off when you’re about to wee and end up training your brain to respond to the signals all by itself.

However, as we said, always go to the doctor first. They’ll be able to run tests and assess you to find out your individual cause/s.

How do I talk to people about this?

We know that admitting to someone that you still wet the bed sounds like the most embarrassing thing on earth, but you can talk about and survive. WE PROMISE.

You don’t have to tell everyone and their aunt that you have this problem. Who you tell is totally up to you. Perhaps start with a trusted family member, friend or someone who can support you. We have a detailed section in our article here on just how you can start those difficult conversations.

You might even find it easier speaking to a GP first, if you’re able. Then you can be armed with information and leaflets to throw at your real life friends when you speak to them about.

It doesn’t all have to be serious. Make jokes about it if you want to! Remember that we all have issues and problems, and we shouldn’t be ashamed about that. It’s just life.

I’m terrified of staying at a friend’s house or going on holiday

If you’re staying over at a friend’s or going on holiday with someone, hopefully you’ll be close enough with them to be able to talk about your worries.

If you feel you can’t talk to anyone about it then you could:

  • Take spare underwear.
  • Bring a plastic bag for any wet clothes.
  • Use a sleeping bag with a liner or a waterproof bed protector. ERIC has a shop full of handy products.
  • If you need to use pull-ups, then use pull-ups. You can always hide them in your sleeping bag and put them on when nobody is watching. If you don’t need actual pull-ups then you could wear a sanitary pad just in case.
  • If all else fails, keep water by your bed and if you have an accident, just cover it with the water and say you spilt your drink! No one will know. Sneaky sneaky.

You’re never alone with this and there is support out there for you. Visit ERIC’s website or call their helpline on 0845 370 8008 (calls cost 9.6p per minute plus your standard network charge).

Next Steps

  • ERIC supports young people with bowel or bladder conditions. Call their helpline on 0845 370 8008 Monday to Thursday 10am–2pm or email: helpline@eric.org.uk. Calls cost 9.6p per minute, plus the phone company's access charge.
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.

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Updated on 26-May-2017