‘Blue balls’ is a term that we often hear people use. It is a slang mostly used in the United States in relation to sexual frustration. Have you ever wondered if it really exists, what it means and if it is a medical condition, and more importantly, how to get rid of it? This article attempts to answer some of these questions.
What is blue balls?
‘Blue balls’ occurs when there is sexual tension as a result of (often prolonged) sexual arousal of a male, without ejaculation and orgasm. In summary, it is when a male is aroused but does not get to release the sperm. This creates a state of sexual tension in the male. The medical term for this frustrating experience is called epididymal hypertension
What happens in blue balls?
To understand what happens in blue balls, it would be beneficial to understand the male sexual response. The male sexual response cycle consists of excitement, plateau, orgasm, and resolution.
The first stage is excitement which is triggered by events that stimulate the sexual desire. These events vary across different males but mostly involve sight, touch, imagination, touch among several other sexually stimulating events. This leads to an erection which is the initial event. Erection is produced by dilatation (expansion) of tiny blood vessels in the penis and increased blood flow to the erectile tissue of the penis, and also some to the testicles. These make the penis very turgid and hard, and the testes to a little extent also increases in size. These changes will continue and reaches a plateau where the person is ready for ejaculation and the attendant maximum pleasure (orgasm).
Blue balls occurs when this cycle is interrupted for whatever reason and ejaculation and subsequent orgasm and resolution does not occur. The symptoms are caused by the unrelieved tension in the genitals. All the changes will eventually spontaneously reverse with time if orgasm does not occur, however, it leaves behind a highly unsatisfying feeling.
There is actually scanty medical or scientific research to prove that there is true tissue hypertension in the epididymis in this condition, however, the term ‘epididymal hypertension’ is loosely used to describe this condition for want of a better word.
What are the symptoms of blue balls?
The symptoms of blue balls are mostly pain, discomfort, aches, mild swelling, and a dragging feeling in the testes (balls). There is also attendant irritation and anxiety. The symptoms are mild and self-limiting, meaning they go on their own and there is usually no need to see a doctor for this.
These symptoms usually last from minutes to maximum of a few hours, and unlike the colloquial name of the condition, the balls (testes) do not turn blue!
Is this a serious medical condition?
Blue balls is not a serious medical condition and cannot cause any significant adverse health effects as it usually resolves on its own with little effects. Like has been said before, there is often no need to see a doctor for this although there is a reported case of blue balls in a young man who presented with scrotal pain to the ER!
When to get worried
You can only get worried or see the doctor if you have testicular pain not related to sexual arousal or disruption, or if the color of the skin of your testes actually starts changing. These maybe due to other causes of scrotal pain like testicular torsion, epididymitis, orchitis, mumps, or testicular cancer.
How to get rid of blue balls
The good news is getting rid of blue balls is very easy. The easiest way is to actually complete the sexual cycle and ejaculate. This can be with a partner (consenting) or by masturbation if a partner is not available. Note that masturbation offers as much relief from this condition as with a partner. Other methods like taking a cold shower, exercising, or engaging in activities to distract one’s self have also been proven to be effective by experts.
Also avoiding sexual stimulation in the first place when there are no plans of competing the cycle by ejaculation and having an orgasm is also a way of primary prevention of this condition.