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What Causes Bed Wetting in Girls?

By M. Gardner
Updated: Mar 03, 2024

Bed wetting in girls can be caused by a number of factors. Among these factors are hormonal imbalances, an undersized bladder, genetics, deep sleep, stress and physical abnormalities, among others. Most doctors believe that bed wetting in girls is less common than bed wetting in boys.

Nighttime bed wetting, formally known as nocturnal enuresis, is a fairly common problem among children and tends to run in families. Normal bed wetting should cease after age 5. If it continues to be a problem past age 6, parents can turn to a doctor to check for any health problems in their child and to seek advice on treatment. The doctor might perform tests to check for a urinary tract infection and diabetes. Either of these health issues can lead to regular bed wetting in girls, and involuntary urination might end upon treatment.

Some girls experience nighttime bed wetting because of an improperly developed ureter, the tube through which urine moves from the kidney to the bladder. Another cause might be an underproduction of the hormone that reduces the amount of urine made by the kidneys. Spinal cord abnormalities can also lead to bed wetting in girls.

In the absence of a physical abnormality or other health problem, the bed wetting issue might be caused by stress or deep sleep. Stress is often accompanied by changes in eating habits and sleep deprivation. When a child is in deep sleep, she might be less likely to notice urges to empty her bladder.

Parents should not assume that their daughter is wetting the bed on purpose. They also should not assume that she doesn't make an effort to get out of bed at night. Adults also should be sensitive to the fact that bed wetting tends to be more emotionally traumatic at a younger age for girls than it is for boys.

Many children simply outgrow bed wetting, but some might need either behavioral or medical treatment to curb the problem. Behavioral treatment might include limiting beverage intake during the evening, training the bladder by holding urine for longer periods during the day or using an alarm system that wakes the child when she wets the bed at night. Medical treatment might include medicines that either decrease the amount of urine produced by the kidney or increases the capacity of the bladder.

Also, nighttime bed wetting leads to urinary tract infections more often in girls than in boys because sleeping in a damp environment is more harmful to the female anatomy. Such infections can aggravate bed wetting in girls, so parents should consider checking on their child during the night to ensure that she has not wet the bed. If she has wet the bed, they should ensure that the girl's bedding is changed and that she puts on dry clothes before going back to sleep.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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Discussion Comments
By pleonasm — On Jan 18, 2014

@Ana1234 - The key point there is knowing what the problem is. Bed wetting can be a symptom of a serious illness and I feel like a lot of people worry to much about how to stop bed wetting without looking into underlying causes. If your kid starts doing it out of the blue, she should see a doctor first, not a psychologist.

By Ana1234 — On Jan 17, 2014

@indigomoth - Parents really have to be careful about the stigma that can surround a kid who had problems with their kidneys or bladder. My sister had bad kidneys when she was young (she still does, but they are much better than they were) and she always seemed to smell a little bit of pee, which didn't exactly make her a hit at school. On top of that, my parents tried all kinds of bed wetting solutions which just made her very anxious, although they didn't mean any harm.

I think sometimes, especially if you know what the problem is, you've just got to use a plastic sheet and wait for the kid to grow out of it.

By indigomoth — On Jan 16, 2014

Sometimes bed wetting in older children just happens. I can remember wetting the bed once when I was a kid and it was just a freak accident. I must have had too much water to drink before bed and I dreamed that I was on a toilet.

I've always been a little bit paranoid that it will happen again, but it never has. I managed to get up and clean myself and the sheets before anyone found me though. I can imagine if someone did discover me I might have been a lot more freaked out by the incident and it might have happened again just because of that!

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