Adult Bed-Wetting: A Common Issue

Estimates are that as many as two percent of adults still have trouble controlling their bladder while asleep. Whether this is a continuation of a youthful problem or it's onset later in life, it's universally embarrassing and can have a substantial impact on quality of life.  

Why does bed-wetting occur? There are multiple factors involved:


Studies show that someone whose parents were both bed-wetters has a more than three in four chance of being a bed-wetter himself. If one parent wet the bed, a son or daughter has about a 40 percent chance of doing the same.

"Small" Bladder

The issue here is not the physical size of the bladder but the fact that it takes a small amount of urine to activate the brain signal indicating that it's time to get to a toilet. People with "small" bladders feel the need to empty it earlier than others who have the same amount of urine in their bladders.


Everyone makes antidiuretic hormones, which signal the kidneys to slow the production of urine. Most people produce more of these hormones at night. Some adult bed-wetters, however, don't produce enough antidiuretic hormone while sleeping, meaning their bodies continue to produce high levels of urine through the night.

Overactive Muscle Contractions

The bladder wall may contract spontaneously, causing urine to be released. Sometimes bladder irritants such as alcohol or caffeine can exacerbate the problem.

Although some sufferers are too embarrassed to get help, there are many treatments available to adult bedwetters. Common therapies include:

Bladder Volume Training

The bed wetter literally trains her bladder to hold a greater volume of urine by drinking large quantities throughout the day and holding it in as long as possible.

Alarm System

As soon as the first drops of urine hit the bed, an alarm goes off, waking the bed-wetter. The body eventually is trained to wake up before the accident starts.

Drinking Less

For some, simply limiting fluid intake to the morning and early afternoon hours can do the trick.


Certain drugs have been shown to cut down on nighttime urine production and consequent accidents.


For severe cases that don't respond to other therapies, various surgical techniques can alter the bladder in ways that suppress nighttime wetting incidents.




National Association for Continence. "Adult Nocturnal Enuresis." Web.