You’re Wrong About ‘Breaking the Seal’

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I was at a college party the first time I heard it: “If you break the seal,” my friend said darkly, “you’ll break the deal.” I was on my way to the bathroom, a standard and reasonable journey we all undertake multiple times per day—but, according to party legend, one that should put off as long as possible when consuming alcohol. The thinking is that once you pee for the first time while drinking, you’ll then have to pee a bunch more times in quick succession.

Is there any actual science behind this good-time lore?

No, you’re not “breaking” any seal

While it stands to reason you’ll pee a lot if you drink a lot—whether your beverages are alcoholic or otherwise—there is just no proof you’ll pee more after your first trip to the bathroom. Urologist Dr. Petar Bajic has summed up the issue like so: “To be clear, there is no seal that you’re protecting.”

Please consider what you know about anatomy. Where and how would such a seal—activated only when you’re throwing back shots or chugging a beer—actually function? Use your sober brain to ponder this puzzle so your drunk brain doesn’t have to.

You will pee more when drinking, but not because of a “seal”

Bajic pointed out that the average bladder is “pear-sized,” so it makes sense that the more liquid you consume, the more often you’ll need to go let it out. More frequent trips to the facilities on any given night make even more sense when you consider that alcohol is a diuretic, which means it increases urine production. You’re drinking a bunch of liquid and imbibing diuretics; of course you’re going to need to take a whizz more often than you normally would. That has nothing to do with what Bajic calls “the legendary seal”—because, again, the seal does not exist.

If you want to get deeper into the science of why you’re peeing so much at the club, you can go further: Alcohol suppresses the release of vasopressin, an antidiuretic hormone that would normally tell your kidneys to absorb fluids and distribute the rest out to your body. Per Healthline, the vasopressin suppression is notable because you’ll be producing more urine than usual and peeing out your fluid reserves.

This is why you should drink water on nights out. All that fluid depletion leads to dehydration—and if you drink enough to get a nasty little hangover, dehydration will only make you feel worse.

Don’t fall victim to an urban legend

People are suggestible. Drunk people can be even more so. Now is the time to do away with your adhesion to this urban legend in the same way you’ve matured out of believing that the order in which you consume certain types of alcohol will somehow impact your likelihood of barfing. At some point, you learned that moderation—not ordering a ton of drinks in a very specific order—was the key to staying puke-free, and yet the equally bogus myth of the seal has persisted. A pity.

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