Why does alcohol make us pee a lot?

Our body has some very smart features, but there are some mechanical problems. One is the need to pee a lot after drinking a glass of beer.

 A woman suffers stomach pains or cramps (Illustrative) (photo credit: FLICKR)
A woman suffers stomach pains or cramps (Illustrative)
(photo credit: FLICKR)

If you have ever drunk alcohol you've probably been in this annoying situation: After only a drink or two, you need to pee. The trips to the bathroom continue throughout the evening. Well, here's why.

The urgent need to urinate after drinking alcohol begins with a small and effective hormone with many names: vasopressin, arginine vasopressin, or antidiuretic hormone, or ADH for short. After drinking alcohol, this hormone becomes problematic.

Alcohol is a diuretic and ADH is an antidiuretic, meaning a hormone that makes one not urinate too much. ADH is created in the brain and sent through the blood to distant organs, where it distributes instructions. ADH is produced by neurons in the brain's hypothalamus gland and stored in the pituitary gland (hypophysis) until needed, which is when the body needs to conserve fluids, such as in a state of dehydration or while sleeping. 

When the pituitary gland releases ADH, this causes the kidneys to retain more water, producing less urine that reaches the bladder.

But when alcohol enters the picture, it disrupts everything. Alcoholic drinks actually prevent the secretion of the hormone from the pituitary gland which prevents urinary retention. This means that alcohol causes you to urinate more than usual. There is no way to circumvent this process.

 Stomach pain (credit: PIXABAY) Stomach pain (credit: PIXABAY)

Don't mix alcohol and caffeine

Even worse news is that caffeine is also a diuretic, so if you mix rum with coke or vodka with Red Bull, you'll run to the bathroom even more often. 

More bad news is that alcohol and caffeine cause bladder irritation; the body makes more urine, and it's also harder to hold it in. This is because the muscle that should contract to release urine from the bladder is constantly stimulated. When this muscle is in constant use, it weakens and then it's harder to hold in urine.

One more important point: You pee more, but that doesn't mean you drank enough water. If you go out to drink, add some alcohol-free liquids to your order to avoid dehydration, which will make you have a very difficult morning the next day.