Here’s Why Alcohol Makes You Pee

why does alcohol make you pee

TL;DR — Alcohol makes you pee because it inhibits vasopressin, a hormone that tells your kidneys to hold on to water. As a result, your body releases more liquid than it normally does.

Take a second to consider the most crowded bathrooms you’ve been in throughout your life. We’d wager that almost all of them were in bars, stadiums, and music festivals. In other words: places where people are doing some aggressive boozing.

We've all been there. You crack open a beer, savor that golden nectar, and before you know it you're engaged in a marathon of bathroom breaks that makes you question if you have the bladder capacity of a gerbil. It's as if each sip has a direct line to your kidneys, bypassing all logic and reason.

But why must booze warrant so many trips to the pisser? In this article, we’ll break down 4 reasons why alcohol makes you pee, whether you can pee your way to sobriety, and what type of booze makes you go the most.

Why Does Alcohol Make You Pee?

Let’s break down four ways drinking alcohol ramps up urine production:

1. Inhibition of Vasopressin

Alcohol consumption slows the release of vasopressin (AKA antidiuretic hormone, or ADH), a hormone that normally tells your kidneys to hold on to water. When your vasopressin levels drop, your kidneys don't retain as much water. That leads to increased urine production.

2. Increased Fluid Intake

This is an obvious one, but alcoholic beverages themselves are fluids. Consuming liquids (whether that’s beer or water) naturally increases urine output since your body is trying to balance your fluid levels.

3. Diuretic Effect

Alcoholic drinks have a diuretic effect, meaning it causes your kidneys to excrete more sodium and water into your pee. That’s mostly because of alcohol's effect on kidney function, which increases the filtration rate.

4. Blood Volume and Pressure

Alcohol intake can increase blood volume and pressure by dilating blood vessels. This increased blood flow to the kidneys can result in more urine production.

What Type of Alcohol Makes You Pee the Most?

As a rule of thumb, stronger drinks make you pee more than drinks with less alcohol.

One 2010 study found that a person peed more when alcohol content increased from 2% to 4%, compared to a non-alcoholic beverage. Another study from 2017 found that drinking moderate amounts of stronger beverages (like wine and liquor) had a smaller diuretic effect compared to lower-alcohol beverages like beer.

Bottom line: If you’re ripping tequila shots, you’re going to be very familiar with the bathroom by the end of the night.

Does Peeing Get Rid of Alcohol?

You can technically “pee out” some of the alcohol you drink, but not nearly enough to sober you up (or get rid of the empty calories).

More than 90% of the alcohol you drink gets metabolized in your liver at a rate of about one drink per hour. The remaining 2-8% leaves your body through pee and sweat.

Sorry to burst your bubble, dudes. But the only true way to “get rid” of alcohol is to wait it out.

Is ‘Breaking the Seal’ a Real Thing?

“Breaking the seal” has long been a phrase in the DUDE lexicon. It’s a slang term for the first time you pee when you’re out drinking. Some guys think breaking the seal will result in more frequent trips to the bathroom throughout the night, so they try to hold it in as long as possible.

We did a lot of digging, but there’s no legit research to support the theory behind breaking the seal. All of the “evidence” seems to be anecdotal. The placebo effect is at play too: If you think breaking the seal will make you pee more often, you probably will.

Is It Normal to Pee the Bed When You’re Drunk?

We’ve all heard horror stories of grown men waking up in a puddle of their own urine after a bender. Or maybe you’re the dude who doused your mattress after having one too many beers.

Most healthcare professionals would agree that peeing the bed after drinking isn’t “normal.” But it’s 100% possible if you drank more than your body can handle.

Excessive drinking can make you pass out. And when that happens, you don’t wake up like you normally would when your bladder signals your brain that you gotta go. However, your bladder is still filling up rapidly, and when it reaches a critical mass you’ll pee whether you want it to happen or not.

One idea to avoid bedwetting is to set alarms every few hours to remind yourself to hit the head. But we both know you won’t remember to do that, so your best bet is to simply dial it back with the booze.

Beware of Explosive Hangover Poops

Knocking back a bunch of drinks might land you in the bathroom all night. Butt don’t be surprised if you spend the next morning in the bathroom again, doing a different kind of business…

Hangover diarrhea is a well-documented issue for DUDEs everywhere. The diuretic effect of alcohol tells your bowels to flush everything out—fast. Whether you call it beer shits, rum bum, or day-after-drinking shits (DADS), that trip to the porcelain throne is gonna be wet, wild, and stinky.

Make sure DUDE Wipes are in your hangover kit along with your Pedialyte and Tylenol.

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