Is 'Breaking the Seal' For Real?

A medical expert weighs in on the impact alcohol has on the bladder and if it increases the need to go.

Now that football is back, you may plan on having some adult beverages while watching your favorite team.

You know how it goes: You're having a few drinks and before you know it you have to run to the bathroom right when your wide receiver is running to the end zone. No doubt one of your buddies will warn you not to break the seal.

The 12 News Verify Team set out to find out if the theory that if you got to the restroom early on while enjoying drinks, you'll have to go more often than if you held it for longer.

To verify if breaking the seal is fact or fiction, we checked in with Dr. Al Borhan, a urologic surgeon and men's health specialist in Phoenix.

He said there are a number of reasons why you need to go more if you're drinking alcohol.

"It's got fluid, so you're taking in more fluid. You're going to have to get rid of it somehow. The second thing -- it's a bladder irritant so, like caffeine, it makes you want to go to the bathroom more," He explained. "The third thing, which is the scientific aspect of it -- it works work on the anti-diuretic hormone."

Alcohol suppresses that hormone called vasopressin.

"So this is the hormone that when you're sleeping at night it tells your bladder to hold the water in so you don't get up 20 times to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night," Borhan said. "Alcohol tells that hormone to go for a hike and your kidneys say 'Release the flood gates.'"

So, we can verify alcohol does decrease your ability to hold it while increasing the amount of urine your body is making. But is "breaking the seal" actually a thing? Does going once make you go more? 

"There are no scientific physiological studies to show it's doing anything," Borhan said.

That means "breaking the seal" is all in your brain, not your bladder.

Dr. Borhan said even if you can mentally decide to hold it, that doesn't mean you should. Over time, not going to the bathroom can lead to urinary issues.

© 2017 KPNX-TV


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