Doctor confirms whether 'breaking the seal' really makes a difference on a night out
| Last updated
A doctor has finally cleared up whether there is such a thing as ‘breaking the seal’ and needing to go to the toilet more frequently after you’ve had a drink.
We’ve all been there, you’re totally fine for a few pints, but then you go off to the loo just once and spend the rest of your evening flitting in and out.
It’s such a common occurrence that we’ve even developed a colloquial name for it – breaking the seal.
In many ways, the science behind it might seem quite simple.
The more beer – or any liquid, really – that you keep putting into yourself, the more liquid you are eventually going to have to p*** out at some point.
However, this strange phenomenon is slightly different.
It seems to take hold after three pints or so, though the amount can vary depending on the person, and continues at an increased frequency all through the rest of the night.
So, what does an actual doctor make of the matter?
The truth seems to be that there is no physiological explanation for it, outside of what we’ve already discussed about the drink more/p*** more relationship.
Dr Courtenay Moore, a urologist at the Glickman Urological and Kidney Institute at the Cleveland Clinic, offered her thoughts when asked by NBC News: “Last week we were at a dinner party and someone asked us this question.
“I looked it up. There is no physiological basis.
“There are theories as to why this happens.”
One element that is true and not just a theory, is that alcohol has an effect on the bladder.
It serves to intensify your need to urinate, which you’d have to imagine would increase over time if you’re drinking a while.
James Zacny, a professor of anaesthesia and critical care, said: “It can be shots, beer, volume isn’t necessary.
“The key thing is that [alcohol] produces the increased need to urinate.
“Alcohol simply blocks the normal release of [anti-diuretic hormone - ADH] vasopressin…
“[Vasopressin] promotes re-absorption of water in the kidney to the rest of the body.
“If you have this blocked, the water goes into the body,”
ADH is important because the body produces it while you sleep – in one case – just to stop you getting up all night.
That ADH is excreted less when you drink alcohol, which in turn increases urine production.
As you drink, you obviously consume more liquid, but less water is being absorbed into your kidneys, so it follows that you’re going to have to pee more, and with greater levels of urgency.
Moore added: “[Alcohol] decreases your ADH and you are producing more fluid. So when you produce more fluid and you fill your bladder more, you suppress more ADH.”
What’s more, alcohol irritates the bladder, meaning that you have an uncomfortable feeling – like you need to pee – even if you aren’t full up.
So, while many of the weirder theories out there are absolute nonsense, there is some science behind it all.
However, there might be as much of it in your head as anything.
Moore concluded: “It is a level of awareness. Cognitively, you may be a little impaired.”
The more you think about having broken the seal, the more likely you are to have the prophecy come true.
Featured Image Credit: BMD Images / Serge Mouraret /Alamy
Topics: Food And Drink, Science, Weird