Are Blue Balls Real Or Is It Just An Excuse Men Make When They Want To Get Laid? Turns Out, It's Real — And Can Happen To Women Too

"Blue balls", at least to those of us without balls, seems like the first cousin of the equally mythical-sounding "jock itch". The latter, I'm pretty sure, being a thinly-veiled excuse for allowing crotch-scratching in public. "Blue balls" refers to the testicular pressure that men feel following elongated and intense arousal without ever reaching orgasm. However, especially among women, we kind of dismiss the male-uttered threat of blue balls as another pathetic rouse to get us to engage in more sexual activity with them. Among the countless injuries actually possible during sex, blue balls sounds the most like a nickname for a cartoon unicorn. In real life, it almost hints that you owe ball-havers an orgasm so they may dodge temporary discomfort. Although that whole debt thing is absolutely untrue, I do have some shocking news: Blue balls, as it turns out, is not the product of a long-running telephone game among the male species who crave a lay. It's real, it sucks, and it affects women, too.

Doctors and other science people have a more sterile term for the condition: epididymal hypertension. The colloquial term "blue balls" first came into play in the 1910s, a phrase we now so lovingly embrace for the vivid mental image it conjures and keeps there...forever. Basically, say a man participates in a crap load of very convincing foreplay. This kind of arousal inspires blood to rush to his crotch (related: that's how penises get erect—they fill with blood! Weirdly unsexy to consider literally, yes?). When all the dry-humping concludes without him blowing his load, his penis naturally redistributes the extra blood throughout his body. His balls, however, are a bit slower and the remaining bonus blood stays put for a spell, adding pressure and a sort of dull pain along the groin area.

However, the fix is simple enough: Blood should return to its normal flow patterns within an hour but should he simply not have the time (or, more likely, feel too turned on to think of anything else), he can expedite relief by masturbating. (Sorry, bro.) Or another classic cure: cold showers, which apparently help chill out swelling with other body parts so why not. Plus, they're good for your hair and skin so cold shower it up, buddy!

Basically, the culprit is the biological lead-up to orgasm. Meaning, when all that rubbing, groping, and Sade builds to a natural point where the body expects intercourse to happen. If that does happen, an orgasm remedies what would otherwise turn into blue balls. That, ahem, expulsion kinda makes everything deflate and return to normal. Make sense?

My most favorite discovery among all the professional, journalistic research I did for this was learning about vasocongestion, (which at least one website calls blue ovaries and another blue vulva. OK.) Many women may already have an inkling of what this entails: It's pretty much the same sort of chain of events that can lead to blue balls: arousal > blood rush to genitals > no orgasm happens so > blood...stays in genitals. At least until our partner dips and we can finish the job solo, thus releasing the pressure and abolishing the dull throbbing in our crotch regions.

WEIRD how biology makes disappointing sexual exploits physically uncomfortable for literally everyone. Actually, not really weird. Not at all.

Scope out this great video to rehash all we've learned here today:

Fusion on YouTube

I feel now is an appropriate time to remind everyone that masturbation remains an option. It improves both physical and mental health. Contrary to popular belief, too, you don't need fancy gadgets to totally knock your own socks off. Plus, with masturbation, there's the added bonus of knowing that there's very little chance of having to endure any kind of blue anything.

Images: mic445/Flickr; Giphy (2)