Gender and Genetic Factors in Bedwetting (Enuresis)/By Dr. Jacob Sagie and Tal Sagie
Although researchers and professionals still do not know with 100% certainty what causes bedwetting, most of them can agree that gender and genetics play at least a partial role.
Statistically, bedwetting issues are more common in males than females at a young age; two-thirds of children who have enuresis are reported to be male and only one-third are reported to be female. However, as age progresses, these proportions tend to shift. By the time children reach the age of seventeen, it is actually more likely for a person suffering from enuresis to be female than male. At this point, the proportions flip and two-thirds are female, whereas only one-third is male.
Why is this the case? One possible explanation is that females are known to mature significantly faster than males in most cases. This happens at an early age, though in adolescence, males manage to close the gap. However, this still does not explain the fact that a higher proportion of females aged seventeen and older deals with enuresis than males. It is hypothesized that emotional factors may have something to do with this, though.
According to most researchers, bedwetting has a clear hereditary relation. This can be seen in the fact that, among children who come to bedwetting clinics, about 75% of them report that at least one parent or sibling also dealt with enuresis in childhood. Furthermore, 90% of the time, children who wet the bed also have extended family in the form of uncles, nephews, and grandparents who had the same issue.
It is important to realize, however, that just because genetics can influence one's chances of having enuresis, this does not necessarily mean that bedwetting is a medical problem. Bedwetting is simply caused by the body's failure to recognize a signal sent from the bladder to the brain when it is full while the person is sleeping. The end result is a failure to contract the sphincter muscle and, in most cases, wetting the bed. On the bright side, enuresis can be treated.
Sometimes, parents come to me and ask, “How can treatment for bedwetting be effective if it is caused by a genetic factor?” My answer to this: there is no actual relationship between this genetic factor and a treatment's chances at success because effective enuresis treatment methods simply work to correct the body's reflex system.
Sometimes, parents who had bedwetting problems in childhood believe that their own children do not need treatment for enuresis. Parents often believe this because they recall that they were able to overcome bedwetting without treatment themselves. Unfortunately, there is simply no way of knowing whether or not a child will be able to overcome bedwetting without treatment. Even so, in the meantime, why let a child suffer from bedwetting? There is no justification for allowing enuresis to detract from a child's quality of life in the meantime.