“Blue balls” is slang for “epididymal hypertension” which is “a condition that can affect people with male genitals. It’s not serious, but causes pain and aching in the testicles after having an erection without an orgasm. It’s often accompanied by a blueish hue in the testicles …”1 Another medical term is vasocongestion, and women can experience a similar feeling if she does not climax, but there is no slang word or much research for her experience.2
Unless the symptoms for men last several hours or days, “blue balls” is not a serious condition, and no woman should be guilted into relieving the pressure.3
The sourced articles below provide a starting point on the subject of the uncomfortable, but not fatal, affliction known as “blue balls.”
- “Blue Balls: Epididymal Hypertension: Myth Or True Blue Medical Condition?”
“Millions of teenage boys are not delusional; prolonged sexual arousal without an orgasm can lead to pain in the testicles. Indeed, women can be afflicted with a similar pain in the genitalia from long arousal without sexual release as well. The colloquial terminology is blue balls, and some people actually claim the scrotum (commonly known as the sack) can become cyanotic from trapped venous blood. … No one wants to suggest that a young man is entitled to have his every erection tended to, especially by a sexual partner. That kind of thinking can lead to him pressuring his partner (or partners) into continuing down a path that she or he is not willing to go. No means no, even if it means he’s going home with an aching disappointment.”
Rod Brouhard, EMT-P, Reviewed by Richard N. Fogoros, MD, verywellhealth.com, 2/28/2018
- “How To Get Rid Of Blue Balls: The Science Of Blue Balls”
“Of course, we all know what the obvious cure is here. But if masturbation isn’t in your immediate future, is there anything else you can do in order to achieve some relief? Also, what’s actually going on down there when blue balls occur? Do they ever really turn blue? Do women ever experience the equivalent? To answer all of these questions and more, we spoke with Eric M. Garrison, clinical sexologist, best-selling author and professor of masculinity studies at William & Mary college. Read on for what he had to say about everything you need to know about blue balls.”
Danielle Page, askmen.com, 1/21/2018
- What Is Blue Balls?
“Although ‘blue balls’ won’t seriously harm a guy or turn their testicles into blueberries, the discomfort is real. … According to Dr. James Kashanian, a urologist at New York-Presbyterian Hospital Cornell, who was previously interviewed by Cosmopolitan.com, ‘There is no risk of irreversible damage.’ Basically, don’t let a guy ever guilt you in to doing something sexually you don’t want to do. This is not a life-or-death situation, and you don’t owe him anything. The sensation can range from a mild ache to worse-than-getting-kicked-in-the-crotch pain. But the bottom line is, it’s not dangerous, and he can deal with it, whether that means giving himself a helping hand or just waiting it out. The blood will eventually drain, and any discomfort will disappear on its own.”
The Editors, cosmopolitan.com, 8/13/2017
- “Oh, My Aching Balls!” -Blue Balls
“Bottom Line: Blue balls is not a serious condition. However, if the symptoms last for several hours or days after sexual arousal has ceased, then do consult a health care professional to be certain that there is not an underlying cause(s) of the pain and discomfort. … It’s nice to know that men are not alone with this problem as it impacts both sexes. Both men and women experience the discomfort of unrelieved vasocongestion. Women’s genitals also become engorged with blood during sexual arousal and, like their male counterparts, women can experience pelvic heaviness and aching if they do not reach orgasm.”
Dr. Neil Baum, neilbaum.wordpress.com, 8/6/2017
- What Is Blue Balls?
“Blue balls, known medically as epididymal hypertension (EH), is a condition that can affect people with male genitals. It’s not serious, but causes pain and aching in the testicles after having an erection without an orgasm. It’s often accompanied by a blueish hue in the testicles. Most men do not get EH frequently.”
Neel Duggal, Medically reviewed by Daniel Murrell, healthline.com, 5/24/2017
- Do Your Balls Really Turn Blue When You Have Blue Balls?
“‘Doctors don’t call it blue balls, though,’ says Alex Shteynshlyuger, our go-to MD for all things cock-and-balls. ‘The closest medical term for what you describe would be testicular vasocongestion.'”
C. Brian Smith, melmagazine.com, 2/22/2017
- Can Women Get “Blue Balls” Too?
“Sexual health researcher Robyn Charlery White, Ph.D., confirms that female blue balls is a real thing for women. ‘Although less well documented or discussed, some women do also experience heightened sensations of pressure, sensitivity, discomfort, and aching in the pelvic region (more specifically the vagina, vulva, and clitoris) when they have prolonged or peaked sexual arousal but do not orgasm,’ she says. Although, she adds, many men and women don’t experience this at all.”
Suzannah Weiss, glamour.com, 6/24/2016
- Here’s The Thing About ‘Blue Balls’
“Again, the science behind blue balls is limited, despite its common colloquial usage. It should be noted that women, too, can experience pooling blood in their genitals, leading to ‘blue clit’ or ‘blue vulva.’ The cure? Ejaculate, or wait.”
Sarah Rense, esquire.com, 6/10/2016
- Female Blue Balls
“Blue balls is a slang term for the condition of temporary fluid congestion (vasocongestion) in the testicles accompanied by testicular pain, caused by prolonged sexual arousal in the human male without ejaculation. The term is thought to have originated in the United States, first appearing in 1916. Some urologists call the condition ‘epididymal hypertension’. The condition is not experienced by all males. … You experience a sense of swelling and genital heaviness as you work towards climax: The vulva, uterus and ovaries all swell as blood pressure spikes just before the big O. ‘If a woman doesn’t climax she may feel uncomfortable or frustrated and perhaps some pain,’ says Sari Cooper, certified sex therapist and host of Sex Esteem. Hence ‘lady blue balls’ or ‘blue vulva.'”
Namita Nayyar, womenfitness.net, 5/9/2016
- Can Women Get Blue Balls, Too?
“No doubt you’ve heard of blue balls, the painful condition that can occur when a man gets aroused but doesn’t have an orgasm. And you’ve probably been thankful on more than one occasion that women can’t get them. Or can we? Survey says: Yup. Women’s sexy bits can most definitely get the blues when they don’t get off, says Teresa Hoffman, M.D., an OB/GYN and medical director of Hoffman & Associates, an OB/GYN group affiliated with Baltimore’s Mercy Medical Center. Of course, since we don’t have testicles the mechanism is a wee bit different—but the concept is the same.”
Korin Miller, womenshealthmag.com, 1/29/2016
1. healthline.com, 5/24/2017
2. womenfitness.net, 5/9/2016
3. cosmopolitan.com, 8/13/2017