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Why Does Alcohol Make You Pee?

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Author: Thomas Roth

Last Updated: 6/04/2022

When consuming large amounts of alcohol the urge to pee becomes unbearable and more frequent. Depending on how many alcoholic drinks are consumed, individuals can pee several times in the span of a few hours. While consuming large quantities of liquids increases the need for urination, alcohol makes you pee for a few reasons. The primary reason alcohol makes you pee is because it’s a diuretic.

A diuretic is a substance that increases the production of urine through the process of diuresis, which limits the body’s production of the hormone vasopressin. Several substances can act as diuretics and alcohol is one example of a diuretic. Some other examples include caffeine, certain sodas, and even medications. When consuming alcohol peeing too often can be dangerous because it leads to dehydration if water is not replenished fast enough. 

What Factors can Affect Diuretic Effects of Alcohol?

The diuretic effects of alcohol can be influenced by several factors. It can depend on the amount of liquids consumed and even the potency of the alcohol. Below are the factors that affect the diuretic effects of alcohol.

  • How often you drink 
  • Hydration level 
  • Alcohol strength 

1. How Often You Drink

When someone consumes alcohol frequently, the body gets used to its effects. In a similar way that someone builds tolerance to alcohol’s intoxicating effects, the body adjusts to its diuretic effects. Therefore, consuming alcohol daily reduces the number of times someone will need to urinate. That said, alcohol has a different impact on everyone, so its diuretic effects may vary. Furthermore, tolerance to alcohol’s diuretic effect is not a good thing. It’s a sign of alcohol abuse disorder (AUD).

2. Hydration Level

Peeing when consuming alcohol can also be impacted by someone’s level of hydration prior to drinking. If someone has a lot of water in their body, there’s a good chance that they’ll urinate more frequently than someone who has less water in their body. Therefore, someone who’s dehydrated will pee less when consuming alcohol. While this is how hydration impacts alcohol’s diuretic effect in average cases, alcohol interacts with people in different ways. For this reason, hydration can play a big role or even a small role.

3. Alcohol Strength

The Journal of Alcohol and Alcoholism has several studies that cover alcohol’s diuretic effects. One study concluded that people experience a diuretic effect when consuming alcoholic beverages that are up to 2% or 4% compared to non-alcoholic drinks. In this study, strength played a key role because people who consumed alcoholic drinks with a 4% alcohol percentage had a more intense diuretic effect. It’s also important to note that stronger alcoholic beverages like wine and liquor have more of a diuretic effect than beverages like beer.

What does “Breaking the Seal” Mean?

Breaking the seal is a term that’s used to describe the first time someone pees after consuming alcohol. Many people believe that breaking the seal leads to more frequent urination. The idea is that once urine begins to leave the body because of alcohol consumption more urine is to follow. While this is a common term, there is no evidence to suggest it’s factual. In fact, resisting the urge to pee can damage the bladder and cause problems. For example, not peeing when you have to can lead to a urinary tract infection (UTI) and even reduce kidney function.

There can also be a mental component to breaking the seal. If someone believes that breaking the seal causes more urination, it’s possible that they’ll think about peeing more often. Thinking about opening when drunk is enough to increase the frequency of urination.

Is Alcohol a Diuretic?

Yes, alcohol is a diuretic. When someone consumes alcohol, it inhibits the release of vasopressin in the body. Vasopressin is a hormone the body produces to regulate levels of water in the body, specifically within the kidneys. When less vasopressin is produced by the body, urination becomes more frequent because the kidneys release more water.

Does Alcohol Dehydrate the Body?

Alcohol dehydrates the body by causing the kidneys to release more water. When water is released by the kidneys it leads to frequent urination. While urination is a sign of hydration, alcohol dehydrates the body because urination becomes too frequent. When alcohol is consumed the body can lose more water than it absorbs, which leads to dehydration. This type of dehydration can also lead to nausea, stomach discomfort, and even vomiting.

Can Alcohol Irritate Your Bladder?

Alcohol can irritate the bladder because it can cause the bladder to become full. When the bladder fills with urine it becomes distended. Preventing a distended bladder from releasing urine can cause irritation and discomfort, so holding in pee can be dangerous when drinking alcohol. Bladder irritation can also become a UTI, which is an infection that can travel up to the kidneys. However, alcohol doesn’t cause much bladder irritation as long as pee is not being forcefully held in the bladder.

Does Alcohol Make You Wet the Bed?

Alcohol can make someone wet the bed. It can make someone wet the bed because when the bladder becomes full with urine it can become distended. Once the bladder is distended the body forces urination, whether a person is conscious or not. Alcohol typically causes people to wet the bed when they’ve reached high levels of intoxication. For example, people who blackout from binge drinking are more likely to wet the bed.

On the other hand, small and moderate amounts of alcohol typically won’t cause someone to wet the bed. That said, if you want to be safe you can always empty your bladder before going to bed after a night of drinking.

Does the Type of Alcohol Affect Pee Frequency?

The type of alcohol can affect pee frequency. Based on several studies, stronger alcoholic beverages like liquor and wine have more of a diuretic effect than less potent beverages like beer. Therefore, wine and liquor can increase the risk of frequent urination.

Still, it depends on the person and how much alcohol was consumed. Large amounts of beer contain a lot of liquid, so drinking a large amount of beer can also lead to increased pee frequency. Overall, there are many types of alcohol and each type can inte

What are the Tips for Managing the Need to Pee?

Managing the need to pee when drinking alcohol is challenging. The good news is that there are some tips to manage the need to pee. Some of these trick your brain and others are designed to prevent the urge from happening. Below are the tips to help you manage the need to pee.

  • Make a note of what you drink; things like alcohol and caffeine are diuretics and increase the frequency of urination
  • Perform pelvic exercises to strengthen the muscles around the bladder 
  • Exercise for at least 30 minutes per day 
  • Make dietary changes
  • Manage medications 
  • Consult with your doctor 
  • Check for other symptoms of diabetes
  • Avoid running water

These are a handful of tips that can help you manage the urge to pee.