Blue balls is the slang term for epididymal hypertension. It refers to aching or painful testicles, which some people may experience after sexual arousal that does not result in orgasm.

This symptom occurs 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 or epididymal hypertension is and how to relieve any discomfort.

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Symptoms of epididymal hypertension may include heaviness, aching, and mild pain in the testicles.

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

The medical term for this is epididymal hypertension.

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

  • heaviness
  • aching
  • discomfort or mild pain
  • a faint blue tint

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 can relieve the sensation of blue balls by ejaculating or distracting themselves with an activity that is not arousing until the symptoms pass.

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

A person does not need a partner to relieve blue balls through sex. People can get rid of the symptoms by ejaculating through masturbation or by doing a nonarousing activity to distract them.

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

Blue balls does not just affect people with male genitals. Females can experience vasocongestion, which people also refer to as "blue vulva" or pelvic congestion.

"Blue vulva" can happen when blood flow to the female genitals increases with sexual arousal. It may cause feelings of aching or heaviness around the clitoris and vulva. This feeling will pass when blood flow returns to normal, either after orgasm or when the arousal subsides.

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

People can treat blue balls by ejaculating through either masturbation or sex with a consenting partner.

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

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A person may have pain in the groin and testicles due to kidney stones.

Pain in the testicles may signal a more serious condition, such as:

Kidney stones

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

People with kidney stones may also have the following symptoms:

  • a burning sensation when urinating
  • blood in the urine
  • nausea and vomiting

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 should seek 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 need 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 with OTC pain relievers and rest. For more serious injuries, it is best to seek medical attention.

Epididymitis

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

The symptoms of epididymitis include:

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

People should see their doctor to treat epididymitis. A doctor may prescribe antibiotics or other medications.

Varicocele

A varicocele happens when the veins in the testicles become enlarged, which can cause the testicles to ache. 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 does not result in orgasm. Doctors refer to this symptom as epididymal hypertension.

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

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