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MissAnthrope's avatar

What happens physiologically during the 'breaking the seal' phenomenon?

Asked by MissAnthrope (21462points) October 23rd, 2010

For those who don’t know, ‘breaking the seal’ is when you drink a lot of fluid (typically diuretic in nature, such as alcohol or coffee), maybe even being able to go a long while before peeing, but then when you do, you have to pee every five minutes thereafter.

I am very curious about why this happens. Can any of you enlighten me?

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15 Answers

augustlan's avatar

I would love to know the answer to this. Also: Why does it seem to happen with alcohol and water, but not soda (I drink Sprite Zero, so no caffeine or sugar)? At least, that’s my experience.

lillycoyote's avatar

I have no idea. I didn’t know there was such a thing. I just thought my urinary tract kind of had a mind of it’s own.

Paradox's avatar

Alot of guys used to talk about this when it came to drinking beer at our mountain parties back in my heyday. I would always respond by saying this argument is irrelevant because if you already have to go to the bathroom I mean you still have to go anyway. Your still feeling it or you wouldn’t go to the bathroom the first time to begin with. Aint I right here?

downtide's avatar

My guess is that the more alcohol you drink, the less control you have over your bladder sphincter muscle. Alcohol is a relaxant, after all.

JilltheTooth's avatar

Alcohol is a diuretic, so it draws water out of your tissues, making you have to pee more often. That’s why you’re so thirsty after a night of drinking. Coffee and other caffeine sources act the same way. Even water will trigger this, to equalize the balance in your body. (Horseradish, too…go figure!)

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downtide's avatar

@JilltheTooth I didn’t know horseradish was a diuretic.

JilltheTooth's avatar

Yeah, surprised me, too. I found out during an unfortunate battle with a kidney problem. Ow ow ow.

josie's avatar

They inhibit ADH. Once it is inhibited, you experience the effects until the inhibiting factor is gone.

Coloma's avatar

I know that caffiene stimulates nerve endings so in the case of caffiene it might increase the urge to go and/or sensitize the nerve endings in the bladder and urethra.

Pouring 4th cup of coffee

flutherother's avatar

I have noticed this phenomenon in myself and have sometimes tried to delay going to the loo because I know once I start going I won’t stop. Urine will enter the bladder at an increased rate when taking alcohol and this will seem faster proportionally with an empty bladder than a full one though I can’t say if this entirely explains it.

diavolobella's avatar

I had never heard of the phenomenon, but now I know why I do that. Every day. All day.

Nially_Bob's avatar

It’s likely a combination of what’s been mentioned, the fact that alcohol is a diuretic, relaxes the muscles and that while many are a little ashamed to be the first to “break the seal” at a party or so such once it’s been done you likely feel less obliged to not go to the bathroom thereafter. From this perspective it’s not so much that going to the bathroom triggers something that leads to one using the facilities more often, but instead that the first time you go to the bathroom it’s just the tip of the iceberg so to speak.

mrrich724's avatar

I don’t believe in it, and I was a fratboy just a couple years ago. It was a popular myth amongst my friends.

I do believe that it is associated with things/times (mostly consuming alcohol) that you are drinking a heck of alot more fluid than you normally would. Oh, and at first, you hold it as much as you can, but eventually (due to increased drinking) you give up, and once you gave up b/c you had to go . . . you just use the phenomenon as an excuse not to try and hold it anymore, and it seems like you have to go more often because, well you do. B/C that flow of fluids down your body finally caught up and is beckoning release.

You drink more, you pee more, that’s all it is. And there may be a time before you “broke the seal” where you could hold it, b/c the levels of fluid weren’t quite built up to the point where you had to keep going yet.

Paradox's avatar

@mrrich724 I agree with you here. I mean when you drink enough of any type of liquid you will have to eventually go to the bathroom, it’s inevitable. And then when you go to the bathroom the first time then of course you will have to keep going (because you drank the fluids to begin with). You drink fluids, your body eventually sends a first signal to your brain you have to go to the bathroom, then you keep going after that because your body is doing what it is designed to do, get rid of waste from the fluids you’ve consumed.

I’m not sure if I worded my point to be understandable enough (not my strong point).

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