Doctors refer to it as “testicular vasocongestion” or “epididymal hypertension”. The rest of the world has a much simpler term: blue balls. The bane of existence for teenage boys everywhere, blue balls are a major pain in the…well, you get the idea. It’s a condition that is so openly talked about that we now use it to refer to everything from movie trailer releases to business deals that weren’t fully performed. But as much as we make light of this condition, it can bring physical discomfort and even cause undue strain on your relationship. What causes this condition and what can be done to fix it?
What is it?
Blue balls are the result of getting hot and bothered without the “release” of orgasm. The discomfort associated with it has been described as aching, heavy, or even like the feeling of holding in a sneeze, just in your pants. The term itself was coined around 1916 and refers to the slightly bluish color that the scrotum can take on in severe cases.
What causes blue balls?
To understand what causes blue balls, we’ve got to look at what happens to your body when you’re getting busy. Basically, there are four physical phases to the sexual cycle: excitement, plateau, orgasm, and resolution. During the excitement phase, blood flow to the genitals increases, which leads to an erection. To learn more about the science behind erections, check out our article here. As things continue to heat up, you enter the plateau state, causing even more blood to flow to the penis and testicles, and blood pressure to increase. During orgasm, your body spikes its production of nonadrenaline, a hormone meant to contract the penile muscle fibers and arteries, reducing the blood flow to the penis. Nonadrenaline also allows for blood to flow back out of the penis, causing it to go soft again during the resolution phase.
Okay, now that the birds and bees are out of the way, it’s time to talk blue balls. If you have been sexually stimulated to the point of either excitement or plateau but circumstances haven’t allowed you to orgasm, there is a large amount of blood trapped in the penis and testicles. The blood pressure in your penis can also be incredibly high, in some cases almost twice as high as the blood pressure in the rest of the body. This can cause the discomfort that we were discussing earlier: a heavy, aching feeling. The excess blood can also cause the bluish tinge that gave blue balls its name.
How do I relieve blue balls?
The obvious answer: orgasm. But we’re betting that if that were possible, you wouldn’t be reading this. Since blue balls is caused by increased blood pressure and a lack of blood flow, the most effective treatments are those that increase blood flow and lowers blood pressure. Here are a few simple treatments that can alleviate blue balls:
- Exercise: Get in some cardio and get your blood flowing away from your balls.
- A cold compress: The cold compress mimics norepinephrine (the hormone released after orgasm that relieves blue balls). It constricts the blood vessels, limiting any additional blood flow to the genitals.
- Lift a heavy object: It may seem bizarre but a new study shows that lifting a heavy object can actually cause something called the Valsalva Maneuver. The Valsalva Maneuver is essentially that feeling in your lower abdominal muscles when you lift weights, and performing it causes a change in blood pressure, relieving some of the blood pressure in your genitals.
- Time: We know. Waiting sucks. But blue balls will typically go away in about an hour, without causing any damage to the family jewels.
Of course, no one described blue balls better that the Rolling Stones…