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Health

Here's What Blue Balls Actually Are

Yes, they're real. No, they're not blue.

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So, blue balls are actually a thing.

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This probably isn't news to anyone who's experienced it firsthand, but it's definitely something that people without balls have a lot of questions about. Is it real? Why does it happen? What is turning blue? WHY ARE YOU COMPLAINING SO MUCH?

We spoke with Dr. Abraham Morgentaler, director of Men's Health Boston and associate clinical professor of urology at Harvard Medical School, to get more info.

The term blue balls refers to the testicular pain that happens after prolonged sexual stimulation — without ejaculation.

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There's not really a fancy medical term for this, says Morgentaler, but what's actually happening in the testicles is sometimes referred to as vasocongestion, or a build-up of blood flow or other fluids.

Here's WHY it happens:

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The testicles produce testosterone and sperm, but they also make other fluid to help propel the sperm through the various tubes, says Morgentaler. "With more stimulation, there's more blood flow to the genital region, including the testicles. The fluid wants to get somewhere, but without there being that release, it builds up and builds pressure," he says. When they get really filled up or congested, it causes the insides to stretch as they get engorged, and that's what hurts.

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But they don't actually turn blue.

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The name probably refers more to the sensation than the color. "The experience is of it being bruised," says Morgentaler. "It has that kind of sensitivity and tenderness."

Most men won't even experience any noticeable swelling, but the engorgement happening inside the testicles is what's causing all that pain.

It IS usually relieved by ejaculating.

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So yeah, this part is true. But whether you orgasm by yourself or with a partner won't really make a difference as far as your engorged balls are concerned, so this obviously isn't any excuse to whine at your partner to finish you off. And even if you don't ejaculate, just some rest and time will take care of the issue, says Morgentaler.

You don't need to go to the doctor — unless you have SERIOUS testicular pain.

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The discomfort from blue balls will subside on its own, but if you or your partner is ever experiencing excruciating testicular pain, definitely seek medical attention. This could be a testicular torsion, which is when the testicle twists and blocks the cord that brings blood flow to the scrotum. It can happen when you're having sex or during another physical activity, but it would be a lot more pain and swelling than what you see with blue balls. This is very serious and requires immediate medical attention.

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