The Truth about Blue Balls

by Jeff Cans
eggs representing man's balls blue balls

While the term “blue balls” has not been around forever, the condition certainly has been.

The condition is usually referred to by urologists as “epididymal hypertension.” All males do not experience this condition, but it is quite common.

The condition is defined by the temporary congestion of fluid in the testicles due to prolonged arousal without release. This is usually accompanied by pain in varying degrees. There is also a common association between epididymal hypertension with men who experience delayed or subdued ejaculation.

Are blue balls just a myth?

Well, no. Technically “blue balls” are not a myth, though the technical phrase is epididymal hypertension. Usually, blue balls are associated with sexual frustration that comes with the lack of sexual release. The myth that they are life-threatening, however, is completely false and has no merit in scientific research.

There is also a notion among men, usually of the teenage persuasion, that blue balls can lead to other health problems. This is also untrue. You cannot get a kidney infection or cancer from sexual frustration, and you cannot get them from epididymal hypertension.

Additionally, blue balls are not a valid reason to attempt to coerce your partner into having sexual intercourse with you. Because you are in pain does not negate consent. Treating blue balls like a life or death situation is not a great way of having an intimate relationship with another person. It may very well be uncomfortable, but you will live through it, contrary to what you might think.

What is the science behind blue balls?

male disappointed at lack of sexual releaseThe long explanation of epididymal hypertension starts with sexual arousal. The vessels that carry blood to the genitals grow larger during this period, while the veins that carry blood away from the genitals become more constricted. This unevenness in blood flow is the main source of the problem.

The unevenness in flow can increase the amount of blood that is stuck inside the genitals, which assists in getting and maintaining an erection. When ejaculation occurs, the veins and blood vessels return to a normal size quickly and there is no issue.

However, if ejaculation does not occur, this uneven blood flow can persist and cause painful aches and discomfort in the testicles. This has been dubbed “blue balls” likely due to the appearance of engorged blood vessels.

Are blue balls serious?

The short answer: usually, no. This is a very fleeting, temporary condition. The painful sensation that comes with epididymal hypertension is typically very minor and can easily be inflated. There are usually emotions tied to the inability to ejaculate, such as frustration and/or disappointment.

To reiterate, blue balls are not a reason to attempt to convince or coerce your partner into having sexual intercourse with you. Blue balls are not an excuse, nor are they an acceptable replacement for consent.

How are blue balls treated?

Because epididymal hypertension has not been extensively studied, there are not a huge variety of treatment options available. There have, however, been case studies that show the most straightforward and simplest fix for blue balls is to ejaculate during an orgasm. The pain subsides slowly, but it will go away after this.

Another option is to decrease feelings of arousal. This can be easier said than done, but a few tried and true methods are probably some that men are familiar with, such as taking a cold shower, distracting yourself with another activity, or thinking of something that is a decided “turn off.”

man looking down at his crotch frustratinglyExercising can also aid in relieving pressure, as it forces blood flow to other parts of your body rather than your testicles. Applying ice or something cold to the genital area can also help by constricting blood vessels and reducing overall blood flow.

There is debate over what is the best treatment for epididymal hypertension. Some swear by cold packs, some favor cold showers. However, most men agree that relief only comes from ejaculation. It is important to note that in that scenario, pain may not subside immediately. It will eventually dissipate, but it does so over time.

There are also more reasons that you may feel pain in your genitals.

If you experience discomfort and painful sensations only when you become aroused, that can usually be blamed on epididymal hypertension. However, if these painful sensations happen regularly and/or when you are not in an aroused state, there could be another problem.

  • Diabetic neuropathy is a serious and common complication of diabetes and develops slowly.
  • Inflammation of the epididymis, known as epididymitis.
  • Any number of infections, which are usually accompanied by inflammation.
  • Kidney stones
  • Mumps virus, spread through personal contact.
  • Orchitis, an inflammation of the testicles caused by a bacteria or virus.
  • Testicular cancer
  • Testicular torsion caused by rapid twisting of the testicles.
  • Or, your pants may be too tight.

Again, if you only experience painful sensations when you are aroused, the easiest way to relieve your symptoms is to ejaculate. However, if these pains persist or they happen when you are not aroused, it may be valuable to talk to a doctor. If your pain during arousal is intense and/or impedes on performance, that may also be an indication to seek a doctor.

If you have a lump on the testicles, an ache in the groin, or pain in your lower back, see a doctor. These can indicate testicular cancer or other serious problems.

Time to review:

Epididymal hypertension is not usually a serious condition. It is not a regular occurrence for most males, though it is known to happen a handful of times. If you feel pain, aching, or heaviness during arousal, this is a sign of epididymal hypertension and can easily be relieved by decreasing arousal feelings or to ejaculate during orgasm.

If epididymal hypertension causes a more severe level of pain or affects your sex life or the quality thereof, talk to a doctor. Remember that pain on a consistent level in the testicles may be an indication of a much more significant problem, especially if it is unrelated to sexual arousal.

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