Blue Balls: True or False?

Hi Shawna,

My boyfriend and I were having a discussion about “blue balls” and I was wondering if it is a slang term for an actual physical ailment or are its symptoms purely psychological. Thanks!



Ah yes! Blue Balls!

Though it doesn’t happen to all men, it is a very real condition that results from a prolonged state of sexual arousal (being turned on for a longer than usual amount of time).  When guys are sexually aroused, blood flows to the penis and testicles causing them to swell (this is what causes an erection).  If he doesn’t ejaculate, there is a buildup of pressure, which can cause discomfort.  The discomfort varies in intensity but is not dangerous.  Ejaculation, whether by sex or masturbation, can relieve the pressure or he can simply wait it out.  The blood will quickly drain, and any discomfort will disappear on its own.  If the erection and/or discomfort lasts longer than 4 hours, he should seek medical attention as this may be a sign of a more serious condition called priapism.

So, if you are messing around with a guy and he tells you he has to have sex/get a blowjob/etc. or he’ll be in major pain, don’t let that pressure you.  If you are not into going any further, he can masturbate or wait it out.  He’ll be fine.

In happiness & health,


Reviewed by Tonya Chaffee, MD

One thought on “Blue Balls: True or False?

  1. Thanks for addressing this topic as it is a common question among students, that I have worked with, in both middle and high schools. This Q&A was very youth friendly, by being short and to the point. Keep up the good work!

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