Updated: Nov 15, 2022
When does sex end?
If you’re a woman who has had sex with men, chances are you’ve had an experience with sex automatically ending when a man ejaculates - even if you haven’t yet climaxed. 95% of heterosexual men say they orgasmed the last time they had sex, compared the 65% of women. This is also known as “the orgasm gap” - a term coined by Dr. Laurie Mintz.
This came up in a conversation I had the other day, and it led to an interesting topic: blue balls. We were reflecting on why heterosexual men might orgasm more often than heterosexual women, and one suggestion was that perhaps some women feel that if their male partner doesn’t ejaculate they might experience discomfort from blue balls.
Disclaimer: being pressured into any kind of sex is absolutely not ok. More on this later.
It made me curious - are blue balls a real thing? And does the cultural understanding of blue balls make some heterosexual women feel pressured to bring their male sexual partner to climax?
Blue Balls a.k.a. Epididymal Hypertension
“Blue balls” is a term used to describe the discomfort some people feel in their testicles after a prolonged erection.
So is it a real thing? Yes.
The medical name for blue balls is “epididymal hypertension.” When someone with a penis gets aroused, the arteries that supply blood to the penis open up to allow extra blood flow. When the blood enters faster than it can leave it causes an erection. Fun fact - this happens to vulvas too. Once orgasm/ejaculation is reached the blood returns to the body, resolving the erection.
Sometimes, when a penis is erect for a prolonged period of time, it can cause pain, discomfort, aches, or a heavy sensation in or around the testicles. So yes, it’s a real thing.
But the phenomenon of the testicles actually turning blue isn’t very common. It is possible that in some cases, the oxygen in the blood can be absorbed by the tissue in the genitals. According to urologist Richard K. Lee, M.D., or Weill Cornell Medical College, this can “leave the blood with a blue-ish hue.” But this only occurs if there is some type of blockage - i.e. from erectile dysfunction drugs or a constrictive device like a penis ring. It is unlikely for balls to literally turn blue naturally.
Ejaculation Isn't Necessary To Relieve Blue Balls
The cultural understanding of “blue balls” suggests that the only way to prevent it is by ejaculating. This is false, and in my opinion, a potentially harmful myth.
Erections go away without ejaculation all the time. Think about spontaneous erections, which occur without physical or psychological stimulation. Like “morning wood” or that unwelcome erection that pops up in the middle of math class. These erections go away - and not always through ejaculation (or that math class would get weird).
Resolving Someone Else's Erection Is Not Your Responsibility!
It is possible that some heterosexual women have internalized pressure from the cultural understanding of blue balls - the idea that the only way to resolve it is by ejaculation. Which brings us to the most important takeaway: resolving someone else’s erection is not your responsibility. It is important to set boundaries and only do what you are comfortable with and genuinely want to do.