Red, White, and Blue Balls

by Kristin T.

July 2, 2023


The (mostly) real medical phenomena explained.

Whether in movies, the high school locker room, or even current discussions about your sex life (guys have those, right??), you’ve probably heard the term blue balls at some point in your life. But what is blue balls? Read on to see what we know about blue balls…and how to take treatment into your own hands…literally.

What is it?

Blue Balls is a colloquial name given to a real (but not serious) temporary medical condition called epidydimal hypertension. Basically, it’s a dull, achy sensation or a feeling of heaviness in the scrotum. Blue balls is caused by a buildup of blood pressure in the scrotum when there is sustained sexual arousal not followed by the release of an orgasm or ejaculation. Some men may experience it frequently when this happens, and some never will; it just depends on your particular plumbing and pain receptors in that area. While an unpleasant feeling, it’s not dangerous or harmful in the long run. While you may experience some minor pain for a few minutes up to 30 minutes, there’s no need to seek medical treatment for blue balls, and it’s definitely never an excuse to pressure a partner into sexual activity.

Do they really turn blue?!?

Yes and no. When you get blue balls, some deoxygenated blood is trapped hanging out in the scrotum (more on that below). Just like your veins returning deoxygenated blood back to your heart, those blood vessels in your scrotum can take on a blue hue. Epidydimal hypertension may appear to give your scrotal skin a little bit of a bluish tinge, especially where the blood vessels are. Don’t worry, though…your entire nutsack isn’t going to turn bright Smurf blue!

How does blue balls happen?

Dr. Rhys Young offers a simple explanation in an article for Healthy Male:

“When things are getting hot and heavy, the body channels blood into the penis and testicles. The veins that would normally carry that blood away from the area restrict so that the blood stays there to create an erection.”

After ejaculation or when they’re no longer aroused, blood flows out of their penis and it returns to a flaccid state. 

“However, if you are aroused for an extended period and don’t get that release or drop in arousal, that extra blood can stay around,” Dr. Young says. “This can cause some pain and discomfort.”

How can I prevent or treat blue balls?

The best prevention for blue balls is just to try your best to reach orgasm every time you’re extremely sexually aroused to the point of achieving a sustained erection. Of course, we realize life happens and that may not always be possible. The best way to “treat” or eliminate the uncomfortable sensations caused by blue balls once they occur is either to:

A) Masturbate. Even self-inducing an orgasm will allow those blood vessels to relax and return blood flow to normal; you don’t need a partner to relieve blue balls.


B) Stop trying to finish and just distract yourself by doing something neutral and non-arousing. Your body will get the signals that you are now just standing in the kitchen snacking, or playing video games, and that it no longer needs to stay aroused and erect. This allows the body to relax and enter the refractory period even without that ejaculatory release.

Is there a female equivalent?

There sure is! Vagina owners can experience a similar phenomenon to blue balls, but it’s usually referred to as “blue walls” (or “blue uterus” or “pink pelvis”…not quite as catchy). Because the clitoris and the penis are parallel structures in the human body, both contain erectile tissue that fills up with blood when aroused. That rush of blood and subsequent vasocongestion that occurs when you’re super turned on and in the heat of the moment is remarkably similar to what happens in a man’s penis & testicles. And since your clitoris actually has a huge network of nerve endings that wrap around your uterus, that dull, achy pain can travel up and in, causing discomfort in the entire pelvic area. So the takeaway here is that it’s always best for ladies need to “get their rocks off”, too…even if we don’t actually have “rocks”, per se.

All of us here at The Intimacy Advisor & Lover’s Lane wish all of our U.S. readers a fun, happy, and healthy (and sexy and free of blue balls) 4th of July! Be safe out there…it’s a lot easier to get yourself (or your partner) off when you have all your digits!

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