Enuresis in Adolescents, a Problem with a Great Emotional Impact

To deal with enuresis in adolescents, it's important to talk with them and decide together what you can do to help.
Enuresis in Adolescents, a Problem with a Great Emotional Impact

Last update: 22 July, 2022

Accompanying children in the process of leaving diapers behind is often one of the most challenging developmental tasks. It’s not only a matter of teaching them guidelines for going to the bathroom, but also of accompanying them in the process of controlling their sphincters so that they acquire a crucial skill for the rest of their lives. However, it has its ups and downs and its resolution isn’t always successful. For this reason, enuresis, or involuntary loss of urine, is a frequent and underdiagnosed problem, but it’s perfectly treatable. In the case of enuresis in adolescents, the issue involves other particular factors, so today, we’ll give you some tips on how to manage it.

Enuresis in adolescents, a problem with a great emotional impact

When we talk about enuresis, we’re referring to that situation of loss of sphincter control, resulting in involuntary urination. This condition should be distinguished from urinary incontinence, which occurs during the day, while enuresis is nocturnal. Another important fact is that it’s considered a pathological condition when it’s maintained beyond 5 years of age or reappears after a control period of at least 6 months.

In general, enuresis is a typical problem of childhood, but this doesn’t mean that it doesn’t perpetuate beyond this age. It’s estimated that between 1 and 3% of the time, it’s maintained during adolescence or adulthood (if not treated in time).

In adolescence, most cases are secondary enuresis, that is, urine loss that reappears after 6 months or more of nocturnal sphincter control.

As you can imagine, enuresis is a condition with great emotional impact, as it causes embarrassment and discomfort to those who suffer from it.

A teen who's wet the bed.
Little by little, this lack of bladder control affects the daily functioning of the person, who is deprived of participating in certain activities for fear of suffering this situation.

You may be interested in: Why Children Still Wet the Bed

What to do about enuresis in adolescence

First of all, if you suspect that your child has enuresis, go and talk to them. Maybe they haven’t told you because of embarrassment, but it’s important to be able to deal with it in order to find a solution. Giving support and security to the youngster is crucial for them to trust that it’s something temporary that can be solved.

Secondly, you need to pay attention to the signs of the environment in order to observe what may be happening to your teenager. Also, ask them and create a space for dialogue. Many times, enuresis in adolescents is triggered by stress. Therefore, it’s best to understand your child’s emotions, as it’s a stage full of challenges.

At the same time, it’s key not to put off consulting with professionals and think about a double intervention: Medical and psychological. In many cases, enuresis is the consequence of some aspect or a deficient functioning in physical terms but it can also be a comorbidity of other developmental disorders. For example, attention deficit disorder with or without hyperactivity (ADHD), post-traumatic stress disorder, bladder or kidney diseases, and diabetes, among others. Hence the importance of timely diagnosis and orientation towards appropriate treatment.

Enuresis affects the self-esteem of the person, as they begin to believe they’re incapable of achieving what their peers have already mastered. With this in mind, it’s crucial to accompany them in the process, support them, and remind them that it’s not something they do on purpose, but that it’s involuntary incontinence.

Finally, we should also know that enuresis affects nighttime rest and thus impacts the adolescent’s academic performance. Therefore, while it’s important to encourage them to continue with their studies, we can also help by reducing the pressure that we often exert for results.

You may be interested in: 10 Self-Esteem Problems in Teenagers

A mother talking about a difficult topic with her teenage daughter.
Talk to your children about this and ask them what they expect from this situation. Also, involve them in the search for a solution so that they can decide based on their needs.

Addressing bedwetting as a team

It’s essential not to underestimate the psychological consequences that bedwetting can have, even if it’s a physical problem. In many cases, specialists indicate that the psychological alterations will be attenuated when enuresis is solved, but this isn’t always the case. You shouldn’t overlook the fact that the child may continue to experience anxiety, discomfort, or anguish out of fear that the event may occur again.

The treatment of enuresis, whatever its cause, brings with it an emotional impact of varying intensity on adolescents. Therefore, it’s important for the family to provide all possible support. Often, it’s a matter of indicating concrete and simple guidelines, such as avoiding excessive drinking during the hours close to bedtime. At the same time, on other occasions, it’s a matter of taking part in the process and being a strong supporter of the initiative: For example, avoiding offering sweet soft drinks at the table so that your teen doesn’t feel tempted.

Finally, as adults, we must be willing to listen to adolescents, as not doing so will make them feel even more “infantilized”. Then, when taking action, we must consider what they want to do and how they feel about the change. For example, instead of suggesting that they don’t go to their friends’ sleepovers, ask them what they prefer and tell them they can call you they start to feel nervous. By keeping them in mind, they’ll feel more secure and allow you to advise them and think together.

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  • García, A. I. A. (2014). Intervención conductual en un caso de enuresis secundaria mixta. Revista de Psicología Clínica con Niños y Adolescentes1(1), 53-60.
  • Osorio, Álvaro Eduardo , & Fernández De Soto, Paola (2006). Enuresis y encopresis en adolescente de 12 años. Universitas Medica, 47(2),190-196.[fecha de Consulta 10 de Junio de 2022]. ISSN: 0041-9095. Disponible en: https://www.redalyc.org/articulo.oa?id=231018675010
  • López-Villalobos, J. A., López-Sánchez, M. V., María, J., Llano, A. D., Sánchez-Azón, M. I., & Miguel-De, N. ENURESIS EN LA INFANCIA Y ADOLESCENCIA: ANÁLISIS MULTIDIMENSIONAL.