Help for adult bedwetting

Originally Published: September 28, 2001 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: September 12, 2012
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Dear Alice,

When I was a child, I used to wet the bed. This finally cleared up when I was about twelve. In the last month or so, it has come back — except it's even more embarrassing now because I'm twenty-eight and share my bed with my husband! It started when I had a bad cold, so I thought perhaps it was just stress incontinence caused by coughing while asleep. I do suffer somewhat from stress incontinence, but I learned to deal with it when awake by clamping my legs together whenever I cough or sneeze. I talked to my doctor about this, and he also thought it was due to coughing while asleep. He treated my cough and assured me that once the cough was gone, the bedwetting would be, too. Well, my cough has cleared up, but I am still wetting the bed almost every night! It's mortifying, and I feel like my husband finds me disgusting (not that I really blame him). He says it doesn't matter to him, but I feel like I ought to be put in a nursing home. Is there anything I can do to stop this?

Dear Reader,

Yes, there are things you can do to help dry up your recent bedwetting condition. You're already on the right track by having sought out advice from a health care provider. Since the bedwetting did not hit the road when the cough did, the next best step is to see a health care provider who has experience with treating incontinence patients. Although you may feel mortified, keep in mind that 90 percent of people who have incontinence can be successfully treated.

Since you have a history of stress incontinence as a child (leaking urine when pressure is placed on the bladder such as through coughing or sneezing), your provider will probably recommend:

  • Practicing Kegel exercisesto strengthen and train the muscles in your pelvic floor that control urine flow.
  • Prescription medication(s) that can help control your nightly urges
  • Lifestyle modifications that can put a damper on your P.M. pee problem

Perhaps your health care provider can refer you to a gynecologist, urologist, or urogynecologist who specializes in urinary problems. S/he may be able to determine the cause and appropriate treatment(s). Columbia students can make an appointment at Medical Servicesonline through Open Communicator, or by calling x4-2284. Here’s to happy days (and nights) ahead!

Alice