This article is for information purposes only. It is not meant to be a substitute for medical advice or treatment. Therefore, consult your urologist, physician, or doctor if you have more questions about this topic.
You've probably heard of or maybe even experienced it yourself - the male sexual phenomenon known as "blue balls" the slang term for epididymal hypertension (EH). It's commonly understood that blue balls are a condition where you feel pain and discomfort in your testicles due to a period of arousal that doesn't result in sexual release.
What Exactly Is Blue Balls?
You might be surprised to learn that it is real and doesn't happen to men only or young adults. Women also experience their own version of blue balls known as "blue vulva". Thankfully, although painful, blue balls (and blue vulva) really aren't dangerous.
Regardless, this article sheds some light on this discomfort in your penis and testicles, sorting out what’s real blue balls and what’s not.
Now, blue balls creates a bit of a divide in the scientific community. Some claim it’s just a myth. On the other hand, some studies investigate the biological process behind the scenes.
Again, blue balls are indeed a fact. The slang term often broadly defines sexual frustration experienced by men, with the cause rooted in lack of orgasm after a period of sexual arousal. Misunderstood by unreleased semen in the testicles brought on by sexual frustration.
Since you can’t release the tension built up in your genitals, you feel a heaviness within that can manifest itself in a variety of physical forms. These range from mild discomfort to severe pain in the testicles.
It's true that in its most basic form, blue balls are a condition where tension builds up in your scrotum and the associated tissues when you've been sexually excited but haven't achieved sexual fulfillment. You’ll more than likely feel a dull but uncomfortably noticeable pain in your groin, making you feel like you’re dragging around some extra weight between your legs.
This sensation is diagnosed by physicians as the result of pressure building up in your epididymis. This is the heavily coiled tube found on your testicles within the scrotum (the sack). This is scientifically defined in medical terminology as - epididymal hypertension.
Medical Citation: Diagnostic Consideration "Blue Balls"
The Anatomy Of Epididymal Hypertension
Professional urologist and Co-Founder of The Private Gym, Doctor Andrew Siegel M.D.refers to the condition as testicular congestion syndrome. He describes this mild discomfort as "testicular and scrotal pain occurring after prolonged sexual arousal and stimulation without sexual climax."
Signs And Symptoms Of Blue Balls
When a man has actual blue balls, he might notice the following uncomfortable symptoms:
Significant discomfort around the genitals
Intense pain in the scrotum (epididymal hypertension)
Testicles that feel heavy
Increased blood flow
High Blood Pressure
Dull ache or tightness in your groin
Now, of course, the term ‘blue balls’ wasn’t just pulled out of thin air to describe this condition. Sometimes, your testicles do actually take on a faint blue tint.
So, How Do You Get Blue Balls?
To understand this, we need to take a step back and observe the entire process taking place when we’re getting erections.
When the male member is in a flaccid state, a small amount of blood gets in through blood vessels known as arterioles (smaller arteries). However, when you experience sexual arousal, your beating heart sends excess blood to your groin.
The penile cavities fill up with blood, making your member get hard. To maintain the erection, the swollen cavities cut off the blood’s exit from the penis, maintaining pressure within the penile shaft.
When you engage in intercourse or other sexual activity and achieve an orgasm and satisfaction, your penis muscles deflate, allowing blood to leave and head back into general circulation and you lose your erection.
So, where does the testicular pain come in?
Well, if you don’t get sexual fulfillment, you'll remain sexually aroused. And as a result, you'll have excess blood remaining in your penis and sexual organs.
Because of too much blood, there's increased epididymal hypertension. You’ll feel dull testicular pain and swelling in that area.
The connection between blood vessels and blue balls
When your blood vessels, especially veins, are filled with blood, they appear blue. Since the penis and testicles are well-supplied with veins, they can become tinged with a very slight blueish hue.
And that’s it, really. That's how blue balls happen.
This brings us to blue balls in women. Well, not exactly blue balls but rather a blue vulva. So, they don't experience testiculoscrotal pain (well, obviously) but they do get sustained pain around their genitals.
When women are aroused, there's increased flow to the blood vessels in the labia and clitoris. Without sexual intercourse, oral sex, or masturbation to orgasm for a prolonged period, their vulva gets a slight blueish hue. The blood pressure builds and persists in the genitals, creating an aching sensation.
How Can You Treat Blue Balls?
The easiest and quickest way to get relief is to masturbate and ejaculate or disconnect from dirty thoughts. When you have an orgasm, your body releases pent-up blood from the genitals, providing relief from blue balls. So, intercourse, oral sex, or masturbation - as long as there is ejaculation - should quickly do the trick.
If you cannot masturbate to relieve your blue balls, here are a few suggestions that you can do to take down that raging erection:
Stand under a running cold shower
Lie down and rest; relaxation makes blood flow back to the central circulatory system
Turn your thoughts to something that has absolutely nothing to do with sex
Keep yourself busy with something to take your mind off your prevailing blue ball situation
Hit play on your favorite playlist or podcast to distract your mind from sexual arousal matters
Put a warm cloth against your testicles to stimulate blood flow
Engage in some moderate to heavy exercise because it diverts blood flow from your penis to the active muscle groups
Try the Valsalva maneuver*
*To perform the Valsalva maneuver, hold your breath and pinch your nose. Now, bear down as if you’re going number two on the toilet. At the same time, try to breathe hard out of your mouth for ten seconds without actually parting the lips. This exerts pressure through your pelvic area, relieving the tension within.
What Else Causes Aching in Male Genitals?
When you feel heaviness, a painful sensation, and discomfort in your groin, and you're just on the other side of a stimulating situation that didn't result in orgasm, then chances are it’s just a simple case of blue balls. However, sometimes that feeling could point to more serious health conditions around your family jewels.
Epididymitis - an inflammation of the coiled tube that stores sperm in your scrotum
Varicocele - a condition where the veins in the testicles expand and increase the size of your balls
Trauma to the groin
Or you could just be wearing some really tight pants
So, yes, blue balls are a thing. Maybe not so much to have entire studies and papers based on them, but enough for scientists to acknowledge the condition and for us to write this blog article. You can easily kick the condition by having an orgasm or trying out the creative alternative methods we highlighted earlier.
When To See Your Doctor
You don't need to seek medical advice if you're experiencing blue balls. Having an orgasm is a quick fix for the condition. However, some symptoms of blue balls can point to more serious conditions like we've pointed out above.
Look out for the following symptoms:
persistent pain in your groin area even after getting an orgasm
an aching sensation in the small of your back
a lump or swelling in one testicle or even both
All in all, blue balls are quite harmless in both men and women. One orgasm later and you're back to normal. If only more medical conditions could be cured by masturbating!
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