Updated 09 January 2017

Family considers traditional rituals to end bedwetting

Some people suffer from a bedwetting condition called nocturnal polyuria – a condition that causes them to urinate frequently in the night during their sleep.


Thembelihle Mkhize (not her real name) is 28 years old – and every night she wets her bed.

Runs in families

Every morning she wakes up in a wet bed and has to take her soggy bedding and smelly mattress outside to dry off. When she was little, her grandmother cleaned her up every morning. But when she turned eight and was still wetting the bed, it became her job to sort out the mess every day.

Mkhize suffers from a bedwetting condition called nocturnal polyuria – a condition that caused her to urinate frequently in the night during her sleep. She says there have been very few mornings in her life when she has woken up dry, with no need to use the washing line. And she is not the only one in her family with the condition.

"I have just accepted my situation, as I now see that there is nothing I can do about it. As I was growing up I was told that my grandmother from my father's side used to have the same problem. It stopped only when she was 33 years old. I guess that is where I am going also," said Mkhize.

Read: How to handle bedwetting

The relatives on her father’s side of the family believe that urinating problems run in their family. They believe the only way to get rid of the problem is through costly traditional rituals that they hope to perform in the family.

"We do not have money to pay for a certain inyanga to do that ritual. Even though I feel uncomfortable about my condition, the family supports me a lot and I appreciate that," she says.

Mkhize says it is difficult for her to visit relatives overnight because some of them do no understand. The situation was even worse when she slept over at her boyfriend’s house.

"I felt so embarrassed," cried Mkhize.

Incense and beer

According to the National Association For Continence (NAFC), bedwetting by an adult is commonly known as Nocturnal Polyuria. It occurs when there is an overproduction of urine at night. This type of nocturia is defined by nightmare urine volume. The organisation says treatment options are limited, and are dependent upon the diagnosis and the underlying causes. These are determined by healthcare professional such as a urologist. 

The President of KwaZulu Natal Traditional Healers Council, Sazi Mhlongo, told Health-e News that the family should burn Zulu incense (impepho) plus do traditional beer (umqombothi) then communicate with their ancestors and ask them to stop Thembelihle’s bedwetting problem.

Read: Bedwetting stems from physical causes, not psychological

 "Thereafter, she will have to bath with that mqombothi and mix it with water. She must do that for a week and there should be good results after that," said Mhlongo.

Mkhize’s grandmother from her mother's side, Lindiwe Mkhize, lives with her. She says the family has tried everything to overcome the issue.

"We have tried everything, and we just hope that it will end like it did to her grandmother on her father's side," said the concerned grandmother. – Health-e News.

Read more:

When children wet their bed: what the doctor would do

Choosing a bed protector for bladder leakages

Hormone tied to bedwetting


Ask the Expert

Incontinence Expert

Prenevin Govender completed his MBChB at the University of Cape Town in 2001. He obtained his Fellowship of the College of Urologists in 2009 and graduated with distinction for a Masters in Medicine from the University of Cape Town in 2010. His special interests include laparoscopic, pelvic organ prolapse and urinary incontinence surgery. He consults full-time at Life Kingsbury Hospital in Claremont.

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