Men often use “blue balls” as a way to guilt-trip women into getting them off. It’s commonly followed by something like, “You don’t know what this feels like.” Well, guys, as a matter of fact we do.
For those who aren’t familiar with the term, “blue balls” are how men refer to that tight, churning feeling that happens when they get aroused but don’t have an orgasm. While women don’t have balls, we do have corresponding sexual organs that feel equally irksome when they don’t get to go through the whole sexual cycle.
That’s right: people with vaginas are just as capable of getting that uncomfortable, halted-sneeze feeling in our private parts as men — yes, we’re talking about the dreaded “blue balls.” However, because these sexual organs are more complex — and internal — we can’t really call out a specific part as the culprit of our discomfort. Plus, “blue uterus” doesn’t sound nearly as catchy. Dr. Teresa Hoffman, an OB-GYN told Women’s Health that, while there is no scientific research to back it up, women report physical discomfort when they are aroused but an orgasm never comes.
Just like how blood flows to a penis when a person gets an erection, vulva-owners get a similar rush when they become aroused. If they don’t end up having an orgasm, there may be a tight, cramping feeling going on in there, which is pretty akin to what people feel in their testicles under the same circumstances. This feeling can last up to 20 minutes after the failed orgasm but typically resolves itself, even though you may continue to be emotionally frustrated (what else is new?).
According to Dr. Fran Walfish, Beverly Hills relationship psychotherapist and co-star of Sex Box, WE tv, this issue actually is relatively prevalent among people with a vagina.
“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,” Walfish tells SheKnows.
Essentially, since people with vaginas tend to have a harder time having an orgasm in the first place (particularly heterosexual women),they actually experience “blue balls” a heck of a lot more often than people with actual balls do. Throw that in your dude’s face the next time he makes you feel crappy for not getting him all the way there.
Walfish says that while it’s a frustrating feeling, there are many things you can do to get yourself there if your partner cannot (or in some cases will not) oblige. Manual stimulation of the clitoris is a go-to for most vulva-owners when they need that orgasmic release. However, stimulation of other areas, such as the nipples and even the opening of the anus, can help a stubborn O along.
A version of this story was published February 2016.
Before you go, check out our 69 sex positions to put on your bucket list: