It is possible you just may have a blue balls holiday without your special someone(s); but that’s not the end of the world. Let me explain.

I have heard the term “blue balls” thrown around since I was in high school. At the time, I did not understand what it meant.  What I did know was that it was always in reference to a person with testicles (aka balls) who was being sexually active with another person, was aroused, had an erection, and their partner had told them they wanted to stop or slow down. 

They then preceded to try to persuade their partner to continue by saying they had blue balls and it hurt and it was uncomfortable and could even cause damage!

What they were referring to was an uncomfortable, achy, heavy feeling in their genitals caused by arousal and blood flow to the area without a sexual release or orgasm. Balls do not turn blue, though they may turn a deeper colour because of the extra blood flow to the area (this may happen to a vulva as well), but if your balls are bright blue and painful, please see a health care provider. 

To be crystal clear, everyone has the ability to get “blue balls,” even those of us without testicles (aka “blue walls”), and the misguided idea that blue balls are painful, dangerous and need to be “taken care of,” regardless of the wishes of a partner, is still alive and well today. 

Everyone has approximately the same amount of erectile tissue in their genital region, it may be in a penis, it may be in a clitoris — including the clitoral roots that run under the labia. Blood vessels expand to allow a greater volume of blood flow into the erectile tissue when you are sexually aroused. Sometimes this blood flows back out with decreased arousal, sometimes it flows out because of an orgasm, sometimes it sticks around for a time and makes us uncomfortable, often when we have been aroused for a long period of time without an orgasm.

This uncomfortable feeling is never a reason to pressure a person to do something sexually that they do not want to do. This feeling will go away, and if it is not going away fast enough, you can take care of it yourself. Go and masturbate. 

There should be no shame in respecting another person’s wishes and ensuring you are having enthusiastic, consensual sex. If masturbation is not an option, try thinking of something that will decrease your arousal, or turn you off. You know what that is for you. 

So if you are away from your partner or special someone over the holidays, try masturbating or thinking of something that does not arouse you, and if you still end up with that uncomfortable, achy feeling in your genitals, well, that’s okay too. It will eventually go away.

Stacey Jacobs is the sexual health educational manager at SHORE.