Free shipping for orders over £40.                                                                                                                Save 15% on your first order with code WELCOME
Incontinence Advice

Alcohol and The Impact It Has on Your Bladder and Bowels

Everyone enjoys an alcoholic drink or two. Whether it’s wine with dinner, whiskey with friends, or sweet, cold champagne on New Year’s Eve, most of us enjoy a tipple (or two or three!) every now and then. The problem with alcohol is not that we drink it; rather, it’s how much we actually drink.

And when excess alcohol is consumed over an extended period, its negative consequences can be devastating to our health and well-being.

If you are experiencing bladder leaks or incontinence, then browse our range of incontinence pads for a solution to help you manage.


Everyone knows how bad alcohol is for your health – that’s a fact. What you might not be aware of, though, is the effect it can have on your bladder and bowel movements too. In this guide, we detail the impact that alcohol can have on your bladder, bowels and your entire elimination system, even leading to incontinence.

Alcohol and The Bladder

You've probably experienced this at the pub after drinking a few pints: your urge to use the toilet ramps up quickly.

Normally you empty your bladder 4 to 6 times per day. When you drink alcohol, however, excess urine production can lead to dehydration and much more concentrated urine. It is not uncommon for this urine to appear dark yellow, or even brown in colour.

Men, if you're worried about unexpected bladder leaks, try our MoliCare® Men Pads for discreet and comfortable protection.

Bottles In Ice

Alcohol and urinary tract and kidney infections

What’s the problem with concentrated urine?

It wreaks havoc on your urinary tract. Concentrated urine sits in the bladder, and it can cause irritation and inflammation in the lining of your bladder. You are far more likely to develop a urinary tract infection (UTIs) if your urine is concentrated, which can also spread to your kidneys.

UTIs cause burning, pain, or pressure when you urinate; frequent urination; and an urge to urinate right away. Cystitis is one of the symptoms of a bladder infection and is causes the inflammation and swelling of the lining in your bladder. You might feel sharp pain, see blood in your urine, and experience increased urgency or frequency.

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, urinary tract infections are one of the most common bacterial infections in women.

If you notice these symptoms, see your doctor right away!

These issues can really damage your quality of life, and prevent you from travelling, socialising, and a healthy sex life. The best prevention for urinary tract infections is to drink plenty of water and clear fluids; you should also avoid the excessive consumption of alcohol.




Alcohol and bladder control issues

  • Increased frequencyIf you suffer from any kind of bladder control issue, it is a good idea to watch your alcohol intake. Beer, wine, spirits and all other alcoholic beverages can act as a bladder stimulant, and ultimately lead to incontinence.
  • Your over stimulated bladder will make you need to urinate far more often than usual; for people with incontinence paired with other physical issues, they may not be able to make it to the toilet in time.
  • Unintentional leakageAlthough alcohol is defined as a “depressant,” most people who drink in moderation consume it more for relaxation and its stimulant effect. But this can become problematic when it comes to urinary incontinence, as alcohol can also lead to the relaxation of the bladder muscles, thereby possibly inducing unintentional leakage.
  • This can really be a problem if you usually get up in the night to use the toilet – if you have consumed a lot of alcohol and ‘passed out’ you likely won’t get the signal that wakes you. It’s not uncommon for people with bladder leakage problems to wet the bed if they go to bed after having many drinks. If this is the case, you should certainly cut down on their drinking, and use incontinence pads at night time.
  • Impaired signalsAlcohol consumption can also cause the brain to send impaired signals to the rest of the body, confusing you as to when you need to go. This might mean that you think you need to use the toilet only to get there and find you don’t, but it is much more likely that you won’t get the warning you need to prevent an accident.
People Celebrating With Drinks

Alcohol and Your Bowels

Alcohol can cause either constipation or diarrhoea in different people, and sometimes one right after another for others!

Learn more about it in our bowel incontinence guide

Alcohol and Diarrhoea

Drinking alcohol can be a wonderful way to relax and unwind with your friends. But if you suffer from chronic diarrhoea, you may want to cut back on the wine.

Alcohol consumption causes irritation and inflammation in the gut, which can in turn cause diarrhoea. Not only does diarrhoea make you feel exhausted and terrible, it can really damage your stomach lining and sap your body of important nutrients.

Alcohol irritates the delicate nature of your digestive tract, and can worsen your diarrhoea. It has been proven that this phenomenon most often occurs with wine, which can destroy the helpful bacteria found in the intestines. We’re not suggesting that you give up your beloved glass of red wine with a fine meal, but don’t overindulge on a regular basis.

Do you find that alcohol affects you more when you have not eaten a solid meal? This makes complete sense.

When you drink while eating food, the alcohol has a buffer. When the alcohol and food reaches your stomach, it is absorbed into your blood via the walls of your stomach. The food slows down the intoxicating effects of the alcohol. However, if you haven’t eaten any food with your alcohol, the booze travels immediately to your small intestine and then passes more quickly into your bloodstream. This is why you feel much more intoxicated at a much quicker rate.

After most or all of the alcohol has been absorbed into the bloodstream, you will then excrete the rest through defecation and urination. When you defecate, your colon muscles move and spasm (peristalsis) in order to push the stool from the body. Alcohol causes these contractions to speed up, preventing your colon from absorbing water, resulting in watery diarrhoea.


Man Holding His Stomach In Pain

Alcohol consumption and constipation


Dehydration doesn't just mean you're thirsty. It's a dangerous condition that can lead to serious health problems if you don't drink enough fluids to replace what you lose in your urine and bowel movements.

Although alcohol is mostly water, it can dehydrate you because it messes with your body's water levels. Alcohol stimulates your kidneys to produce more urine, which means you're losing more fluid than usual through urination and bowel movements.

You might think that drinking beer or other alcoholic beverages would help prevent dehydration, since they contain water. But as we've already learned, alcohol prevents your pituitary gland from producing ADH (anti-diuretic hormone), which prevents you from urinating. So even though beer is mostly water, when you drink it you'll still end up with less water in your body than before because the alcohol prevents your body from reabsorbing the water through urination like it normally would.


We have already mentioned the contractions in your small intestine and bowel that cause you to have a bowel movement. Peristalsis is necessary in order to effectively propel food through the digestive track. As alcohol is a depressant, it dampens the nerves needed to cause the process to happen. Chronic drinkers will find that they will experience constipation far more often than those who avoid overconsumption.

When you are drinking you are often more tempted to treat yourself with fatty fried foods, high carb meals and decadent sweets – all of which can lead to constipation (and/or diarrhoea) on their own. If you are planning to have a few drinks, make sure you eat a healthy meal beforehand. A stomach full of wholesome food will prevent the alcohol from absorbing too quickly into your bloodstream. Ideally, it will also prevent you from pigging out on junk food!

The bacteria in our gut

Our gut bacteria may be miniscule, but they are incredibly important when it comes to how you look and feel. While some alcohol can have positive effects on pathogenic bacteria (wine can combat and kill H. pylori, it also destroys the positive bacteria as well. Without a solid amount of good bacteria, you end up with gut problems, soft tissue inflammation and poor digestion. Even a small amount of alcohol can throw these levels off, and lead to chronic constipation.

Elderly Man Drinking In A Kitchen

Alcohol and Bowel Conditions

For those with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s Disease or ulcers, alcohol can cause a huge uptick in symptoms. Alcohol is particularly nasty for people with diarrhoea caused by IBS, and it can trigger an attack that can last for days. The body views the alcohol as a caustic substance, and for those with IBS the results can be prolonged and painful.

In addition to causing problems for people with existing bowel and bladder problems, alcohol greatly increases one’s risk of developing bowel cancer. One of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in the UK, almost 42,000 people were diagnosed with bowel cancer (also known as colorectal cancer) in 2014 alone.

While causes and factors that can lead to a diagnosis of bowel cancer are varied, increased alcohol consumption is one of the most commonly cited causes. If you are a heavy regular drinker, you are putting yourself at risk of cancer.



In the final analysis, it’s very important to keep active and eat a healthy diet. It’s just as important not to overdo it with alcohol. Simple changes could make all the difference to your life.