Ask The Expert: What Causes Bedwetting In Adults? (And How Can I Make It Stop?)

What Causes Bedwetting In Adults?

Question:

I’m a 40 year old man and have struggled with bedwetting on and off for several years.  It’s very embarrassing and I feel ashamed and alone. What causes bedwetting in adults, and how do I make it stop?

Expert Answer: 

Believe it or not, this is a common question we hear from adults. Bedwetting isn’t just limited to kids, and may be caused by a number of things, such as certain medications you’re taking, other medical conditions, or issues with your bladder. The good news is there are many ways to manage it.

Causes of Adult Bedwetting

There are many things that may be contributing to adult bedwetting.

Medications.

Certain medications can cause you to experience adult bedwetting. Hypnotics, some insomnia medications and certain drugs designed to treat mental or mood disorders may have the side effect of bedwetting. Talk to your doctor about what you’re taking to see if it may be contributing to nighttime wetting.

Genetics.

Believe it or not, you may be able to blame your family for your bedwetting woes.  Studies have found that when one parent has had a history of wetting the bed as a child, their son or daughter had a 40% chance of having it as well.  This likely carries into adulthood too.

Hormones

Some hormone imbalances can cause bedwetting. ADH is an anti-duretic hormone that typically signals the kidneys to produce less urine. If your levels of ADH are off, or your kidneys are not responding to the ADH signals, you may produce too much urine during your sleep, which could result in wetting the bed. 

Other Medical Conditions.

There are many other medical conditions that can contribute to adult bedwetting, such as UTIs, problems with the prostate, sleep apnea, or even diabetes. It’s very important to speak with your doctor about adult bedwetting in order to rule out any of these causes.

Stress and anxiety.

Ongoing stress or anxiety about a situation you are going through may trigger adult bedwetting, which may last long after your stressful problem is over.

Nocturia.

Nocturia is defined as needing to go to the bathroom more than once per night.  This is typically caused by the kidneys producing too much urine, and can lead to bedwetting if you’re unable to wake up at night to use the bathroom.

Overactive Bladder.

With overactive bladder, the bladder muscles become spastic causing the sudden need to go to the bathroom, and often. 70-80% of adult bedwetting patients have been found to have overactive bladder. 

Small Bladder.

Some people are simply not able to hold the amount of urine that they produce at night. This often results in bedwetting. 

How To Stop Adult Bedwetting

There are many ways to treat adult bedwetting. You’ll want to make an appointment with your doctor to determine the cause of your bedwetting, and to find a treatment that will work best with your lifestyle. 

 Protection.

It pretty much goes without saying that if you’re experiencing bedwetting you’ll want to get some protection. But did you know that not all adult absorbents are equal? You can look for products that are extra absorbent or specify nighttime use. Fit is also a very important part of preventing leaks so don’t be hesitant to try out a few products until you find one that’s comfortable and works. Lastly, for extra protection, try a waterproof mattress pad. It may seem like a hassle, but you’ll thank yourself later if you do end up leaking.

Bladder retraining.

The bladder is a muscle, and just like any muscle, it can be trained over time.  Bladder retraining may help you condition yourself to go longer in between bathroom breaks and you can even try using an alarm to wake you up at certain times of the night to use the toilet.  Over time, you may be able to reduce the number of times you have to get up.

Limit fluids before bed.

Don’t let yourself get dehydrated, but try cutting liquids off an hour or so before bedtime. This is especially true for things like alcohol or caffeine, which can irritate the bladder.

Try a bed-wetting alarm.

There are lots of different types of bed-wetting alarms on the market. These work by waking you when the alarm detects the slightest bit of wetness so that you can make it to the bathroom and avoid an accident. 

Medications

There are some medications that can help treat bladder leaks and may help with bedwetting. Click here to learn more about medications that can be used for adult bedwetting.

Surgical treatment options.

If all else fails, surgery may be an option for treating adult bedwetting. Sacral nerve stimulation, clam cystoplasty and detrusor myctomy are all surgical procedures that may treat adult bedwetting.  Be sure to talk with your doctor about the benefits and risks associated with each one.

We know that as an adult, bedwetting can be a very sensitive topic and can cause deep embarrassment.  But know that you’re not alone – millions suffer from adult bedwetting and there are treatments that can help. 

Talking to others may help calm some of the emotional aspects of adult bedwetting. Join the NAFC message boards to hear stories from others, share your own, or ask for advice.  Our message boards are anonymous and provide a great source of community for those living with incontinence and adult bedwetting.

Do you have any tips that have helped you manage adult bedwetting?  Share them in the comments below!