Q&A on “Blue Ball” Syndrome

Perhaps you have heard the term “blue balls” used to describe sexual frustration in people with male genitals. Still, you may wonder, what exactly is “blue ball” syndrome? Does it really exist? If so, why does it happen? The following is a comprehensive guide on all you need to know about “blue balls.”

What is “blue ball” syndrome?

Given the widespread use of the phrase “blue balls,” it may come as no surprise that it is a real condition. Medically speaking, “blue balls” are known as epididymal hypertension (EH). Epididymal hypertension can occur when a male becomes sexually aroused for an extended period of time but does not have an orgasm.

What are the symptoms?

“Blue balls” can be uncomfortable, but the symptoms are generally mild and pass quickly. Someone with EH may experience mild pain or discomfort, heaviness, aching, and/or a faint bluish color in their testicles, hence the origin of the name “blue balls.”

Why does it happen?

When a male becomes aroused, the volume of blood flow to the penis and testicles increases. The veins that normally direct the blood away from the male sex organs restrict, keeping the excess blood in the genitals. The testicles expand and the penis stiffens, which is how the individual gets an erection.

Usually, once this person ejaculates or is no longer aroused, the blood is released from the area and the penis and testicles return to their normal size. However, sometimes the blood can remain in the genitals for a prolonged period without being released by an orgasm or a decline in arousal. This is when EH occurs, and the extra blood in the testicles is responsible for their bluish tint.

Are “blue balls” dangerous?

Simply put, no. While it can be vexing, epididymal hypertension is not a dangerous condition and any unpleasant symptoms will go away once the genitals return to normal. 

Does it only happen to men?

Not necessarily. Although people often use the phrase “blue balls” to refer to males, researchers have found that women can experience a similar phenomenon, dubbed “blue vulva,” in which excess blood remains in the vulva and clitoris for an extended period of time without release.

How are “blue balls” treated?

“Blue balls” are easily treated by achieving an orgasm through masturbation or with a consenting partner. It is important to note that a person does not need to have a partner to relieve EH symptoms and can ejaculate through masturbation. Alternatively, this individual could take a cold shower or engage in a non-arousing activity until their symptoms subside. 



Duggal, N. Medically reviewed by University of Illinois. (2018, September 17). Blue Balls: Understanding Epididymal Hypertension. Healthline. 


Martin, M. Medically reviewed by Dr. Mike Bohl, MD, MPH. (2019, November 21). Yes, ‘Blue Balls’ Is a Real Thing (and It's Usually Easy to Treat). Roman. 


Sissons, B. Medically reviewed by Debra Sullivan, Ph.D., MSN, R.N., CNE, COI. (2019, April 3). Blue balls (epididymal hypertension): Myths and facts. Medicalnewstoday.com.


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