Dear doctor, my teenage daughter still wets the bed


Bedwetting in anyone above the age of six or seven years is considered a problem.

Wednesday March 18 2020

Dr Flo, my teenage daughter still wets the bed. We have tried to talk to her, and to punish her, but it doesn’t seem to help. What can we do? Worried Parent


Dear Worried Parent,

Bedwetting in anyone above the age of six or seven years is considered a problem. It can be due to an overactive bladder or a problem with the nerves and muscles in the bladder.

Treatment involves behaviour therapy, and the use of medication. Your daughter needs to take adequate amounts of water during the day, so that she is not thirsty in the evening. She should also make a habit of using the toilet regularly during the day, every two to three hours. She should avoid taking large amounts of liquid after 6pm, and be sure to use the toilet just before going to bed.

You can use an alarm to wake her up once or twice during the night so that she can go to the toilet. The timing of the alarm should be adjusted to just before she wets the bed. It might take some time to get the timing right, and patience is needed. Once she is used to this, she can manage herself, and usually within three months, she should be able to stay dry most nights. She needs to be reviewed by a doctor every few months until she gets there.

If the above measures do not work, she can be started on medication to help “strengthen” bladder muscles.

The most important thing for you and your daughter is to believe that she can get dry, and to maintain a positive attitude. Punishment and scolding does not help at all. She will need constant affirmation, and celebration of every victory.


Dr Flo, I have a serious problem. I have been masturbating since 2005 when I was in Standard Six (a whole 13 years!) I am now 25. Is it normal for a human being to masturbate that long? Secondly, I have never had sex with a girl. Could this be related to the masturbation problem? Kindly advise me because I am getting depressed by the day. Andrew


Dear Andrew,

Masturbation only becomes a problem when it becomes an addiction or a coping mechanism, or interferes with desired sexual experience.

Lack of engagement in sexual intercourse is also not considered a medical problem unless it is caused by physical or psychological problems like erectile dysfunction, worry about sexual performance, anxiety, depression, guilt, poor self-image or relationship problems.

Any psychological issues, including those related to masturbation, need to be addressed by visiting a mental health professional. Please see one for further help or seek guidance at a youth-friendly clinic near you.

Dr Flo, I am 27 years old. I recently found out that I have HIV.

I’m not sure when I got infected or who infected me. I don’t look sick and I don’t want other people to know my status, but I am very afraid that I am going to die soon.

My question is: Do I really need to start treatment? Confused Youth


Dear Confused Youth,

HIV is a long-term illness, but with good management, it is not a death sentence. The current recommendation is that patients start taking anti-retroviral treatment as soon they test positive, even if they don’t feel sick.

Before starting on medication, tests will be done to check the state of your immune system and your general health.

The purpose of the medicine is to improve or maintain your immune system and to prevent any infections and other complications that may arise from the HIV infection, which compromises your immune system, if left unmanaged. Without treatment, you will be vulnerable to falling very ill. It is also important to note that sometimes the body may not be doing well, even though on the outside you look fine.

Besides medication, you need to eat well and exercise. There are also support groups where you can get advice and support during this time.

You can also go for counselling. The comprehensive care centres in hospitals will assist you get any help you require and at very low cost.

With proper HIV care and a healthy lifestyle, you can live a long, full life, just like anyone else with a chronic illness, like hypertension or diabetes.


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