“Oh, my aching balls!” A comment that every young man makes or thinks when he is engaged in heavy sexual activity and his testicles are causing aggravating pain and discomfort. This blog will describe the condition and what can be done to relieve the discomfort.
‘Blue balls’ is the popular slang term for vasocongestion in the testicles. The testicles do not actually turn blue. Instead, a bluish tint appears on the skin of the scrotum because of the increase in blood supply to the area that is trapped there by constriction of the venous blood vessels giving the bluish discoloration. However, this may not happen in all young men.
Cause and Symptoms
When a sexually-matured male is aroused, the following happens:
• His parasympathetic nervous system increases its inputs, causing an increased flow of blood and lymphatic fluids to the genital area.
• Concurrently, muscles that control fluid outflow constrict, resulting in a net increase of fluid concentration.
• These actions combine to ensure that regional blood pressure is high enough to sustain an erection for penetration during sexual intercourse.
• During this process, the testicles also increase in size by about 25 – 50 percent.
When the male reaches orgasm and ejaculates, the constricted muscles relax and the additional fluids flow out from the genital area. The penis and testicles then return to their normal size.
However, when there is prolonged sexual arousal without eventual ejaculation, the bodily fluids will pool, causing congestion in the testicles and the prostate region. The blood becomes oxygen-deprived and turns bluish, giving the condition its slang term, blue balls.
The technical term for this condition is vasocongestion, which is often accompanied by a cramp-like ache at the lower abdomen, pain and tenderness of the testes, and a lingering sensation of heaviness and discomfort in the lower body.
The female homologue is usually referred to by the more general term ‘pelvic congestion’ or ‘pink ovaries’.
Vasocongestion does not cause any short- or long-term physical harm to the person, and neither is it contagious or infectious. Although it can be very uncomfortable, it is definitely not life-threatening or an emergency. Even if nothing is done, the symptoms usually subside within an hour of onset.
If one is eager for a quick relief, the easiest way is through ejaculation, i.e., masturbation or enough genital stimulation that results in an orgasm and ejaculation. That will jump-start the parasympathetic nervous system, decreasing the blood flow through the genital area and dissipating the build-up of fluids.
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.