What Are Blue Balls, Really?

Guilt trip or actual health issue? Here's your answer!

blue balls

Oh, blue balls: a topic that seems steeped in legend and myth.
If you’re a woman who sleeps with men, you’ve probably had at least one conversation with a partner about blue balls. You may have even wondered if blue balls are a real thing or just some absurd guilt trip a guy lays out when things get hot and heavy, but she decides, “Meh, I have other things to do,” which, of course, can happen. (Sometimes, there are just other things to do.)

There’s also the name: blue balls. Realistically, can balls actually turn blue? And what sort of blue are we talking about? An azure? If this is the case, is there some sort of mortal danger that comes with it? What should we do if someone we love drops to the ground and yells out, “Blue balls! Blue balls!” Call 911  … or just a wambulance?

“Blue balls are indeed a real thing,” Hashim, 36, a D.C. area writer told YouBeauty. “I can think of a time I was really put out because I gave an orgasm, then someone came over and we had to stop. I wanted to repaint the walls, so to speak, and after the person left, I figured we’d go back to business, but no, she ‘was over it.’ That’s not a good feeling.”

Continued Olivier, 45, a New York musician, “Yes, it’s real. I’ve never noticed a change in color, but there’s definitely a small pain that comes with being aroused and not getting to finish.”

MORE: Ask a Scientist: Are Waist Training Corsets Safe? 

However, Ben, 32, an art restorer in Raleigh, North Carolina, doesn’t agree. “It’s not a real thing. At all. Not one bit. And I’ve never used it as an excuse to have a girl get me off,” he explained.

Well then.

While Ben may be fortunate enough to not have experienced blue balls, according to Dr. Marianne Brandon, clinical psychologist and sex therapist, the phenomenon is very real. It’s just that not all men end up suffering from it. 

So, What Are Blue Balls Then?

The medical term for blue balls is epididymal hypertension.  “When a man is aroused, blood and other fluids accumulate in his testicles,” Dr. Brandon explained. “If he doesn’t release that fluid by ejaculating, his testicles can become very sensitive because of the pressure build-up.”

When a man gets an erection, blood flows directly to the genitals. It’s the blood that keeps him erect and increases the size of his testes anywhere from 25% to 50%. If an orgasm is reached, then the balls get their release and return to a normal size. If not, blood continues to flow into the testicles, but not being released due to the lack of an orgasm there is a congestion that can create minor a discomfort. Men tend to describe this discomfort as an “ache.”

Do A Man’s Balls Really Turn Blue?

Actually, yes — but don’t expect a bright sky blue or anything that colorful. Instead, the scrotum can turn a slight bluish hue due to the blood that has collected in the testicles that isn’t rich in oxygen. Blood that is fully oxygenated is red while blood that isn’t will be blue in color — hence the reason why your veins are blue. So, there’s no need for alarm, gentlemen! (And yes, we realize that “blue” may also refer to the sadness that comes from not having the big O, but men may notice their testes are really a different color, too.)

How Do You Stop Blue Balls?

The quickest way to put an end to blue balls is — duh — for a man to ejaculate so his testes can get back down to their usual size. Dr. Brandon suggested masturbation, but if that’s not his cup of tea nor does he have a partner who’s willing to lend him a hand, literally, the only thing the blue ball sufferer can do is wait it out. The discomfort passes in less than an hour; he can spread his seed some other time.

Stay strong, boys!

MORE: Miley Cyrus Opens Up About Sex

Share with your friends

leave a comment

  • Leia

    Blood is never actually blue. It just looks blue through our veins. The red=oxygenated and blue=non-oxygenated concept is just a teaching aid really. The “blue” blood is really just a brighter red, while the “red” blood is a deep dark red. However you could still see that blue hue because it does look blue when you look at the blood vessels through the skin.

  • safetynet2razorwire

    Face-palm. My discomfort is my discomfort. A partner has ZERO obligation to ‘scratch my itch’ – men have these appendages with opposable thumbs that allow us to do so for ourselves (if our Johnson were mounted between our shoulder-blades? No, still our issue.)

    Let’s try a little role-reversal. You’re suffering through gut-wrenching menstrual cramping that is really taking the joy out of your week. Sex is a proven method of easing these symptoms. Let’s listen through our magical hidden microphones into the bedrooms of the nation for the sound of millions of women pleading for relief. Still listening. We should stop before we damage our ears.

    A significant other is not a ‘get out of doing it yourself free card’. Most women I know are already under a sh*tload of pressure – and when they go to bed they are looking for escape from all that.

    • sheryl clyde

      oh please stop women get a similar thing (blue stomach) and we don’t die from it. You will live and it is hardly a valid excuse to pressure a woman into having sex with you.

      • safetynet2razorwire

        Er… did you read my comment? Because if you did then a remedial reading class is very much in order.
        I suggested a role-reversal to obviate how one-sided the ‘blue balls’ whine is. (I even went so far as to point out the sarcastic mockery of my sad pathetic whining brethren I intended)
        The final very brief paragraph should have made that clear.

        • sheryl clyde

          Attacking someone does not help your case however in the interest of fair play i did delete my comment. I do tend to read fast and i did miss a couple of things so I apologize for assuming you were being a typical male.

          • bob

            you clearly are a typical idiot. Learn how to fucking read. you look so stupid right now lol…

          • sheryl clyde

            Aww we have a little boy who thinks he needs to be all macho and be a bully. What is the matter kid feeling insecure about something so you attack thinking that I am going to be be all upset over some stupid comment that some kid I do not know made? Sorry but my skin is a lot thicker then that. In fact i am usually the one who makes men run crying once i put on my leather outfit and get my whip out.

          • bob

            you are all talk…. probably a old fat smelly man with cheeto stains on his shirt hahahaha

          • sheryl clyde

            So go run home little boy and go find another to play with because you bore me.

          • bob


  • sheryl clyde

    Call it what you will no means no. It is not a valid excuse to pressure a woman into having sex with you. You won’t die from it so man up and quit whining.

    • safetynet2razorwire