It is very rare that a young person, who stopped bedwetting at childhood, will relapse during adulthood. In order to understand this condition we first have to distinguish between two types of relapses:
- The adult that had a single or very few bedwetting accidents.
- The adult that started to wet the bed frequently.
One should appreciate that both types are frightening and distressing; you wake up in the morning to a urine soaked bed and you don’t understand why. Wetting the bed means that the individual doesn’t have control of his body, which is certainly scary during adulthood. However, there is big difference between the two types.
The first type of a single bedwetting accident can occur under certain extreme conditions such as extreme fatigue, high alcohol consumption, drug use, severe mental stress, etc. Those conditions can cause to a limited failure of the restraint mechanism which will be reflected in involuntary urine discharge. In most cases this is a one time system failure. Having said that, the bedwetting occurrence can be so threatening to his or her confidence that the person will be so focused on the incident and will lose his confidence in his ability to stay dry. This could lead to enormous stress which might cause a series of wet nights and might escalate from there to a significant relapse. In order to avoid this situation, one should look at it in the right proportions – to relax and try to avoid thinking of this unfortunate episode.
The second type – high frequency relapse – is extremely rare and can be caused as a result of very significant trauma. I treated a patient, age 25, that at age 19 as a combat soldier was exposed to horrifying sights and as a result he started to urinate at night (combat fatigue). Another case was a man, age 55, was in the area of a suicide bomber and severely traumatized. The treatment in those cases will focus on the events that caused to the problem and not merely on the bedwetting.
Other cases are related to the use of Psychiatric medications – many of which have side effect of very deep sleep which might cause to bedwetting.