Google ad
End of ad
left arrow Google ads: down arrow
Independent expert answers
on psychiatry and psychology

Bedwetting and Other Inappropriate Urinating

Abstract: Bedwetting problems and help. Why people sometimes urinate in inappropriate places.

Web4Health logo
psychologist Independent medical expert answers on psychiatry and psychology

Bedwetting and Other Inappropriate Urinating

Intelligent natural language question-answering in the area of psychology and psychiatry. Ask a simple question  Local help Info

Go the top of the page Top Forum iconDiscuss this Forum iconGet expert advice Printer Print
Written by: Martin Winkler
First version: 22 Jul 2008.
Latest revision: 31 Jul 2008.

My husband has an eighteen year old son who joined the army and they have discharged him because of bedwetting. This son had not wet the bed since he was 14 yrs old.


According to the psychiatric classification of DSM-IV bedwetting (enuresis) is described by repeated voiding of urine into bed or clothes. It is important to find out whether this is involuntary or (very unlikely) intentional. To meet the diagnosis of bedwetting it must be clinically significant. It should be present twice weekly at least for three consecutive weeks and cause significant distress and impaired functioning. Most patients (80%) have nocturnal enuresis only. If enuresis has been present since birth (primary enuresis) organic factors (like urogenital problems, hormone deficits) are more likely. Secondary enuresis is any restarting bedwetting after the age of 5. Bedwetting can have a genetic cause and runs in families. Scientists think that there is a genetic link (chromosome 15). If one parent has enuresis there is 40% chance of enuresis for the child.

7 % of 5 year old boys and 3 % of girls meet this diagnostic criteria
at Age 10 about 3% of the boys are affected
At Age 18 is estimated that about 1% of the boys still meet this diagnosis.

So there is a significant prevalence decrease with age.

First of all : It is important to rule out some organic disorders (like bladder dysfunction, infections, diabetes insipidus or diabetes). Some sleep disorders like sleep apnea can also cause enuresis.

Psychological / psychiatric causes should be carefully diagnosed by a specialist. Very often secondary problems of embarrassment or social anxiety are present and the adolescent or young adult is afraid to speak about his or her problem.

It is rather difficult to guess about all possible psychological causes of enuresis. Neglect or violence of any kind including emotional or sexual abuse and any kind of chronic distress due to family problems (divorce, loss of important persons, accidents) can be the origin. Some children feel responsibility for their siblings in case of sexual abuse. This could cause a severe traumatic experience or post traumatic stress disorder. Later in life any severe life stress or major changing of the personal environment can restart the problem.

But one should be very careful to adopt these hypotheses. If your son wants an evaluation he should seek professional help of a specialist. First he should rule out organic factors or his problem.

Treatment usually includes psychological help for coping and looking at the causes of the problems. Sometime additional medication is very helpful.

Intelligent natural language question-answering in the area of psychology and psychiatry. Ask a simple question:
Local help Info
Google ad
End of ad
Disclaimer: The documents contained in this web site are presented for information purposes only. The material is in no way intended to replace professional medical care or attention by a qualified psychiatrist or psychotherapist. It can not and should not be used as a basis for diagnosis or choice of treatment. If you find anything wrong, please notify us at .
Go to top of page To top of page