The Science Behind “Breaking the Seal”

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At some point in the past few nights of dive bar drinking, the conversation landed upon the fact that I take more pisses than an old guy with prostate problems.  And it’s true, I totally do.  Once I piss for the for the first time after having a few drinks, it’s like I’m a goddamn Pringles ad.  And I know I’m not the only one this happens to.  So I got to wondering why the hell this happens, and now I know the answer.

After searching ye old interweb for awhile, I found this blog by some kid who’s a Canadian med student.  According to Hanni Darwish (I think it’s a traditional Canadian name):

It all has to do with how your body senses the need to pee. When you first start drinking, you may have some urine in your bladder already. As you begin to drink, your ADH levels drop and your urine production increases slowly. Your bladder will continue to fill up, but not at a noticeably faster rate. Once you break the seal your bladder becomes very empty, taking up very little room in your body. As it fills up again, your bladder senses changes in pressure and stretching. This creates a strong urge to go to the bathroom again, even if your bladder is not as full as it was when you broke the seal. So decreased ADH causes more urine production, but its the speed at which your bladder volume changes that really makes you want to pee more often.

If you wanna know what ADH is, you should read this part of his blog because I’m too lazy to explain it.  Unfortunately knowing the explanation of breaking the seal doesn’t mean it’s no longer gonna happen.  But hey, instead of just doing the pee-pee dance, you now have something to chat about with the hottie who’s ahead of you in the bathroom line.  Personally, I’ve been looking into getting a monkey bladder sewn on top of my current one so that I can have double the pee holding capacity…my search has been dismally unsuccessful.

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Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap

Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap

Stuart Schuffman, aka Broke-Ass Stuart, is a travel writer, poet, TV host, activist, and general shit-stirrer. His website is one of the most influential arts & culture sites in the San Francisco Bay Area and his freelance writing has been featured in Lonely Planet, Conde Nast Traveler, The Bold Italic, and too many other outlets to remember. His weekly column, Broke-Ass City, appears every other Thursday in the San Francisco Examiner. Stuart’s writing has been translated into four languages. In 2011 Stuart created and hosted the travel show Young, Broke, and Beautiful on IFC and in 2015 he ran for Mayor of San Francisco and got nearly 20k votes.

He's been called "an Underground legend": SF Chronicle , "an SF cult hero": SF Bay Guardian, and "the chief of cheap": Time Out New York.


  1. stupid volume change

  2. Barrett
    May 11, 2009 at 2:13 pm

    Pretty girl with her pants down sittin’ on a toilet. BAS you know how to make me click a link.

  3. Heather C
    November 3, 2014 at 12:36 pm

    This is why I can only have one beer at bars, (but thankfully I can have a decent amount of hard booze.) Otherwise I might as well just lock myself in the restroom and pour my beers directly into the toilet. I guess it’s good to know the science behind it at least?

  4. saucetin
    November 3, 2014 at 1:06 pm

    So, what if you don’t drain the tank completely–only going halfsies? Then
    it won’t shrink down (as described above.) Will that lessen the effect?

    • November 3, 2014 at 1:28 pm

      Do the research and let us know! 🙂