Yes, Women Can Also Get Blue Balls—It's Called 'Blue Vulva.' Here's What You Need to Know
It's a cute name for a real and uncomfortable condition.
When men are sexually aroused for an extended period of time but don't get any sort of physical release, they can develop what's known as "blue balls." Medically, this real condition is known as epididymal hypertension (EH). But it turns out that you don't need to have testicles or a penis to feel this way—women can get a version of blue balls, too.
Shelby Sells, a sex, love, and life coach and resident sexpert at WOO More Play, refers to this as "blue vulva." (It's also known as "blue uterus" and "pink pelvis.") "Vagina owners can experience this when blood flow to the genitals increases with sexual arousal," Sells tells Health.
This increased blood flow is called vasocongestion whether it happens to a male body or female one. "The clitoris and the penis are homologous, meaning they are parallel structures in biologically male and female bodies," SKYN Sex & Intimacy expert, certified sex coach, sexologist Gigi Engle tells Health. "Both the penis and the clitoris contain erectile tissue that swells with blood when aroused."
That extra blood flow doesn't actually turn the balls or vulva blue—but it can give either body part a blueish tinge, hence the name of the condition.
What do blue balls—or blue vulva—feel like for women?
Most women who experience it describe blue vulva as feelings of heaviness around the clitoris and vulva. It generally resolves when blood flow to the region normalizes—either after orgasm or when sexual arousal calms, Sells says. Other terms used to describe it include uncomfortable, annoying, even painful.
Blue vulva can feel irritating. "Mostly, it just feels like sexual arousal because it is sexual arousal," she explains. Whatever a person feels, know that it's not harmful at all. In fact, the myth that blue balls is somehow dangerous or super painful is born out of the idea that mean need to "release" their ejaculate, and it's supposed to pressure women into sex.
How common is blue vulva, and who gets it?
Family and relationship psychotherapist and author Fran Walfish, PsyD, tells Health it's a misconception that blue vulva isn't common. "I hear differently in my large Beverly Hills private practice," she says. "Many women, especially those above the age of 40, take longer or have trouble achieving orgasm. They either experience a physical discomfort in their uterus or a sense of frustration, or both." Anyone can experience blue balls or blue vulva, however, and it's not limited to any age group.
How to treat blue balls or blue vulva
The International Society for Sexual Medicine says this about the conditions: "Blue balls and blue vulva have not been rigorously studied by academics. Generally, people should not be alarmed if it happens. It can take some time for the aching to go away, but there are ways to relieve symptoms.
One obvious way to relieve that heavy feeling is to have an orgasm. If you don't have a partner on hand, "grab your favorite vibrator and some lube and get yourself off," Engle suggests. Another way to ease the discomfort is to take a cold shower and give your vagina a rest, says Sells. If none of these are possible, just turn your mind to a non-sexual topic, and the feeling will start to dissipate.