Let's talk a little bit about lady blue balls. No, that's not the name of a fancy lass in some Jane Austen novel who's just looking for love in a society that constrains her. What I'm talking about are the signs of female blue balls, aka, the physical sensation you might experience if you're really turned on but can't climax.
When you think about blue balls, chances are you're remembering the oft-bemoaned fate of a dude unable to get off. It's usually recounted in a whiney tone by whomever's balls are in a tizzy. It's typically accompanied by a passionate case for why you should help solve the problem, since it's "your fault" for being so hot in the first place. While it's up to you to decide if you want to offer a helping hand, there isn't really any doubt that their blue balls are a real thing, physically speaking. So why is it that blue balls in women seems so shocking? It's not, if you take anatomy into consideration.
According to Dr. Logan Levkoff, a sexuality and relationships expert, “when someone is sexually aroused, blood flows into the genitals and pelvis and causes a ‘heavy’ feeling. This heaviness can sit in testicles, but also in the clitoris, labia, and pelvis. But without climax and the muscle contractions that are part of it, that heaviness isn't released,” she tells Elite Daily. If that doesn't happen, the blood stays trapped and, as you can imagine, it can get pretty uncomfortable.
There are plenty of reasons why someone might not be able to orgasm. Maybe you're distracted, your partner stops touching you at just the wrong moment, or it just ain't gonna happen for unknown and deeply annoying reasons. But the result is, to some extent, a female version of blue balls.
Still unsure if you've experienced blue balls? Here's what to look out for.
1. An Achy Clit
It's no surprise that your clitoris, with all its nerve endings, would face the brunt of lady blue balls, explains Jess O’Reilly, Ph.D., and host of the @SexWithDrJess podcast. “Since the clitoris (and the labia) also swell with pleasure during arousal, it’s possible for you to experience some mild pain or discomfort if you become excited, but don’t have an orgasm,” she tells Elite Daily. Some people have described it as an ache in their clit. Sounds super fun, huh?
2. A Sore Uterus
According to Medical Daily, the uterine walls also become engorged when you're aroused, so some women might feel a blue balls-like effect as a deep internal ache or menstrual cramps. “You might experience some pressure in the region if you get sexually excited, but don’t have an orgasm. This is also related to vasocongestion — blood pressure increases, but the blood vessels are constricted during erection,” says O’Reilly.
3. An Uncomfortable Feeling of Fullness
Now that you know the signs of female "blue balls," you've got a couple of options for how to getting rid of them. First, try an orgasm! “If you experience discomfort or tension because you haven’t had an orgasm, you can simply use a toy, your hands or another prop to help you have an orgasm. This will release the pressure via pleasure,” says O’Reilly. Your second option is to just wait it out. Typically, the discomfort shouldn't last more than 15-20 minutes, while the blood naturally leaves the genitals, writes Women’s Health.
Sexual discomfort isn't pleasant, so if you find yourself suffering from lady blue balls, don't be afraid to prioritize your orgasm and communicate with your partner about the importance of your own sexual pleasure. You deserve a happy, healthy sex life. Be vocal about your needs and don't give up! You've got this.
This post was originally published on 9/28/17. It was updated on 8/15/19. Additional reporting by Rachel Shatto.