The term “blue balls” is used to describe the painful sensation in the testicles of a male who is sexually aroused but unable to experience the sexual release that comes with ejaculation. It is very real! (1)
Blue balls are not a myth (1).
The medical term for blue balls is epididymal hypertension (EH). When men become sexually aroused, blood flow to the penis and testicles increases.
If a man who's aroused doesn’t have an orgasm, the penis and testicles stay in an engorged state and eventually the increased pressure can cause an achy or throbbing pain in your testes.
Even those without a penis and testicles can experience the type of discomfort commonly known as blue balls.
When women become aroused, blood rushes to their sex organs. If arousal is prolonged, it can cause a similar sensation called “blue vulva” or pelvic vasocongestion (PV).
Similar to blue balls, blue vulva can cause feelings of achiness or heaviness in the clitoris and vulva.
While blue balls can certainly be painful, you will not die from it. In fact, it should go away between a few minutes to a couple of hours depending on how long you've been on edge.
Ejaculating is the most common way to get rid of blue balls. Even if you’re not able to ejaculate, you should not experience damage or long-term side effects from blue balls. Epididymal hypertension generally resolve itself.
Caveat #1: If you routinely practice what’s called edging, which is when you intentionally withhold an orgasm to make the eventual orgasm more intense. Constant edging can make the instance of blue balls worse and lead to prostatitis.
Caveat #2: If your balls are truly the color blue, or any other abnormal color, such as the color blue, you should see a doctor.
The best way to get rid of blue balls is to ejaculate. Other than that, you can make things better by avoiding lifting, running, or other strenuous activities that increase testicular pressure.
In addition to helping your blue balls, regular ejaculation is actually good for your prostate. In fact, a 2016 study from Harvard found that men who had at least 21 orgasms in a month were a third less likely to develop prostate cancer compared to men who only ejaculated 4 to 7 times per month.
If you’re experiencing blue balls and ejaculating is not helping, then try taking an over-the-counter medication like Advil or Motrin.
Usually, prolonged pain and sensitivity from severe epididymal hypertension will subside in 3 to 5 days with regular masturbation and anti-inflammatory drugs.
If testicular pain from blue balls worsens, you feel a lump, or you’re consistently having testicular pain with erections or orgasms, then you should see a doctor.
You should also see a doctor if you have pain, heaviness, sensitivity, or discomfort in the testicles when you’re not aroused. This could be a sign of other problems like epididymitis, orchitis, prostatitis, or kidney stones.
As mentioned above and below, you should also see a doctor if the color of your balls is actually blue, or any other abnormal color.
No. Even though epididymal hypertension is called blue balls, your testicles don’t actually turn blue.
If you notice that your testicles are turning blue or purple, it could be a sign of testicular torsion, a condition where the testicles are rapidly twisted causing pain, swelling, and discoloration. This is an emergency situation that merits a quick trip to the emergency room.
1. "Blue Balls", A Diagnostic Consideration in Testiculoscrotal Pain in Young Adults: A Case Report and Discussion. doi: 10.1542/peds.106.4.843
2. Ejaculation Frequency and Risk of Prostate Cancer: Updated Results with an Additional Decade of Follow-up. doi: 10.1016/j.eururo.2016.03.027