“Blue balls” is the slang term for epididymal hypertension. It refers to aching or painful testicles. Some people may experience this symptom after sexual arousal that does not result in orgasm.

This symptom may occur because blood builds up in the testicles during arousal, causing them to ache if the person remains aroused for too long. Although blue balls may be uncomfortable, it does not usually last long.

In this article, learn more about what blue balls is and how to relieve discomfort.

Blue balls can happen when a male remains aroused without orgasm. This causes a temporary buildup of blood in the testicles.

The medical term for this is epididymal hypertension.

Blue balls is a controversial topic because there is not a medical consensus that it exists. There has also been very little research into this topic.

People with blue balls may experience the following symptoms in their testicles:

  • heaviness
  • aching
  • discomfort or mild pain

Sexual arousal causes the arteries that carry blood to the male genitals to expand, increasing blood flow to this area. The veins that usually take blood away from the genitals restrict, trapping blood there and causing an erection.

After ejaculation, or if a person ceases to feel aroused, the blood vessels return to their usual size, together with the swollen penis and testicles.

People may be able to relieve the sensation of blue balls by ejaculating or by distracting themselves with an activity that is not arousing until the symptoms pass.

Blue balls is not dangerous. Any discomfort should subside once the erection has passed and blood flow to the genitals returns to normal.

A person does not need a partner to relieve blue balls through sex. They can get rid of the symptoms by ejaculating through masturbation or by engaging in a non-arousing activity to distract them.

The testicles do not actually turn blue, but they may take on a faint bluish hue. This is due to the increased volume of blood in the area.

If a person does notice the testicles turning blue or purple, this could be a symptom of a more serious issue called testicular torsion. Healthcare professionals consider this a medical emergency.

Blue balls is a temporary aching sensation in the testicles that should pass once the extra blood flows away from the area and the blood pressure returns to normal. It does not usually last for long.

People can relieve blue balls by ejaculating through masturbation or during sex with a consenting partner.

If a person cannot or does not wish to masturbate, they can use other techniques to relieve the blood pressure and end the arousal.

Some ways to reduce arousal include:

  • focusing on work or problem solving as a distraction
  • taking a cold shower to help restrict blood flow to the genitals
  • lying down to increase blood flow away from the testicles
  • exercising to encourage normal blood flow in the body
  • lifting something heavy to exert pressure on other areas of the body, if possible
  • applying a warm compress to the testicles to ease the pain

People may find that taking over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers, such as ibuprofen, can help treat more intense pain.

Anyone who experiences severe or long lasting pain in the testicles or has any symptoms of the conditions below should seek medical attention.

Pain in the testicles may signal a more serious condition. The following sections look at some other conditions that cause testicular pain in more detail.

Kidney stones

Kidney stones can cause referred pain in the groin and testicles.

People with kidney stones may also experience the following symptoms:

Testicular torsion

Testicular torsion happens when the spermatic cord that holds the testicles becomes twisted, causing extreme pain. Testicular torsion is a medical emergency, as it cuts off blood flow to the testicles.

Anyone with the following symptoms needs immediate medical help:

  • extreme pain in the scrotum, usually on one side
  • one testicle that becomes larger than the other
  • the scrotum appearing red or darker than usual
  • nausea and vomiting

A person with testicular torsion will require surgery to untwist the spermatic cord.

Injury

Any injury to the testicles, such as a sports injury or an object impacting the groin, can cause pain, swelling, and bruising.

People can often treat minor injuries by taking OTC pain relievers and resting.

For more serious injuries, it is best to seek medical attention.

Epididymitis

Epididymitis occurs when the tube behind the testicles, called the epididymis, becomes swollen. This swelling can be due to a sexually transmitted infection or urinary tract infection.

Some symptoms of epididymitis include:

  • tenderness or pain in the scrotum
  • swelling and inflammation of the scrotum
  • a fever
  • a burning sensation while urinating

A person should contact a doctor to treat epididymitis. The doctor may prescribe antibiotics or other medications.

Varicocele

A varicocele occurs when the veins in the testicles become enlarged. A person may be able to see the enlarged veins. A varicocele usually happens on the left side of the scrotum.

“Blue balls” is the colloquial term for testicles that ache after sexual arousal that does not result in orgasm. Doctors refer to this symptom as epididymal hypertension.

Epididymal hypertension is not dangerous, and any pain should pass once the person has an orgasm or stops feeling aroused.

Anyone who experiences lasting or severe pain in the testicles should contact a doctor, as it may be due to a medical problem.

Read this article in Spanish.