FACT CHECKED IT: Are Blue Balls Real?

by | Mar 4, 2024 | Series, Sex | 97 comments

Are Blue Balls Real?

Is there really such a thing as “blue balls”? 

This month I want to start a new series on the blog called “Fact Checked it For You”, where we look up some of the most common outrageous claims made about sex, and see if they actually stand up to scrutiny.

We’ll be tackling blue balls and the 72 hour rule; the idea that teen girls are asexual compared to boys; the idea that sex dies in menopause; and more!

But let’s start today with “blue balls”, the idea that, once a guy gets aroused, if he doesn’t orgasm he’ll be in danger, or at least in tremendous pain.

Here’s a note I got from one woman:

Ok yearrrrsss ago when I was dating, the guys I dated always talked about blue balls it was always in these hushed tones. I was chastised that once touching and petting got under way there was a point in which a guy just couldn’t stop or the dreaded terror of blue balls would happen and it was an indescribable pain. Once I met my husband who’s super amazing, he was like, “baby that was garbage and used to to trap you” and “I’m sorry they did that to you. It isn’t a real thing.”

Here recently I’m just wondering how many women were taught that same crap or something similar. Maybe I’m an outlier and this is a one off experience but somehow, in purity culture I’m betting it’s a dirty secret no one talks about.

First, don’t you just love her husband? I’m so glad she ended up with a good guy!

But second–let’s actually look into this!

Is pain from “blue balls” real? 

When you scour the academic literature, there just isn’t a lot written about this, which does suggest that this is not a real thing.

In April 2023, the Journal of Sexual Medicine published a study on blue balls, and how it’s used to coerce partners into sexual activity. In a study of 2621 people (just over half were male), they found that both men and women reported discomfort if aroused without orgasm, but it was mostly men who pressured their partners into sex.

Let’s break this down. Here are their findings:

Blue Balls Research Findings Chart

A few things to notice here.

1. Any pain felt in blue balls is very likely to be mild.

Looking just at the men for a second, 56% of men reported feeling pain. Of those, 58% said it was mild, meaning 33% of men overall experienced mild pain. 7% said it was severe, which is 4% of men overall.

The study authors describe the pain like this:

Generally, the pain experiences of most participants were mild (described as a mild ache or pressure) and infrequent. Of note, a small proportion reported severe and frequent experiences of blue balls/vulva.

Samantha Levang, et. al.

Journal of Sexual Medicine, “Blue balls” and sexual coercion: a survey study of genitopelvic pain after sexual arousal without orgasm and its implications for sexual advances

So we’re talking infrequent pain that is simply an ache or pressure. That’s it.

Something else of note:

2. Women can feel pain too–”blue vulva”

Or sometimes called “blue bean”! 42% of women report experiencing some pain, with 83% (or 36% of women overall) reporting mild pain.

Here’s how the study authors summarize their findings:

Results indicated that more individuals with a penis than a vagina believed that the phenomenon of blue balls is real. Results also indicated that 56% with a penis and 42% with a vagina reported experiencing blue balls/vulva and that significantly more participants with a vagina than a penis reported experiencing pressure to continue sexual activity in response to the possibility of their partners’ genital pain without orgasm. These findings were echoed by responses to open-ended questions: participants described how those with a vagina were more likely to be pressured to engage sexually in this situation (“Men have used this to pressure me many times” [participant with a vagina]). In addition, some believed that the symptoms were exaggerated for the purpose of sexually coercing partners (“It’s an excuse men use to get sexual relief” [participant with a penis]).

Samantha Levang, et. al.

Journal of Sexual Medicine, “Blue balls” and sexual coercion: a survey study of genitopelvic pain after sexual arousal without orgasm and its implications for sexual advances

It’s that latter part that we really want to talk about, and that our reader’s husband was alluding to: men are using the “blue balls” idea to pressure their partners.

3. Pain does not mean that your partner must give you sex 

Yes, there can be discomfort.

But discomfort doesn’t mean that someone else owes you the use of their body when they really don’t want to.

Because that’s really the issue here. Women are being told that because they make a guy uncomfortable, they now owe him “release” or else he’ll be in agony, and it’s their fault for getting him worked up in the first place.

As the authors state:

Regardless of intensity and frequency, however, the experience of blue balls/vulva should not be used as an excuse to sexually coerce a partner, as mentioned by many respondents. Indeed, the most concerning finding of the present study is that those with a vagina were significantly more likely than those with a penis to report that they had experienced sexual pressure from a partner in response to this pain. This finding is consistent with previous literature stating that the experience of blue balls can be used as an instrument of persuasion to coerce women into engaging in sex on compassionate grounds.

Samantha Levang, et. al.

Journal of Sexual Medicine, “Blue balls” and sexual coercion: a survey study of genitopelvic pain after sexual arousal without orgasm and its implications for sexual advances

If a man uses the “blue balls” argument on you, that man is not safe.

That man does not believe in consent, and does not have a problem coercing a woman to get what he wants without regard for her.

That man is not a safe romantic partner, and certainly not marriage material.

So there’s our first Fact Checked It For You! Blue Balls is not really real. Any pain tends to be mild, and women can experience that pain too. But above all–pain does not mean a partner owes you anything.

What do you think? Were you taught this was real? Have you experienced it? Has someone used it to pressure you? Let’s talk in the comments! And if you have something you want me to fact check, leave a comment too, and I’ll see if I can add it to the series!

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Sheila Wray Gregoire

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Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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97 Comments

  1. Angharad

    I have a question.

    Assuming it’s true that a guy who gets aroused but doesn’t orgasm is in excruciating, unbearable pain…

    We are always being told that men can be aroused visually. Just seeing an attractive woman walk past him can be enough.

    So…if he ‘has’ to have sex or else suffer excruciating pain once he’s been aroused, but his arousal is due to a strange woman who has just walked past him, what is he supposed to do about this?

    It sounds to me as if the whole ‘blue ball’ theory is just another excuse for rape culture.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Sounds like that to me too!

      Reply
    • Nessie

      There is a solution to that… the whole “pluck your eye out if it causes you to sin.”

      Obviously I don’t think one should go about plucking one’s eye out, yet if the alternative is to be “forced” to become a rapist, maybe it isn’t such an out there idea.

      Reply
    • Jacob Suchocki

      I’m sorry but I can’t disagree more. I’ve gotten to the point where I’m in pretty deep pain from being turned on without orgasm. Anyone who says otherwise is lying. Sorry. This is not just once but many times. This article actually infuriates me based on my experiences. Again, the norm. Is not understood and men are made to be the bad guy. I’ve seen it multiple times here where my experience is the exact opposite of what is talked about here.

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Actually, it ISN’T the norm, Jacob. As the article (and the chart) shows, it does happen. But it is definitely not the norm. That doesn’t invalidate your experience. It’s just not the norm.

        Reply
      • Jo R

        Do you have a tenth this fire and indignation at MEN who have spent centuries telling women to settle for emotional closeness during sex?

        Some of us have endured painful, pleasureless penetration for literally decades, repeated at whatever frequency the husband demands as his due, because that is what women (and men) have been taught is “godly.”

        Excuse all us women for finally speaking up about OUR pain, which we’ve been told is making us holy, when in reality it’s because we’ve been conditioned to never make a suggestion to a husband for fear of disrespecting him or attempting to teach him that slower or less pressure or a little to the left would give us the orgasm that he takes completely for granted.

        I’d suggest your sexual pain is making you holy, just like it does for women, but you don’t seem to be receptive to such an idea.

        (I do empathize, believe it or not, but you’re in a pretty small minority, statistically speaking, compared to the percentage of women who endure sexual pain of all kinds.)

        Reply
  2. HM

    My abusive ex did use this to coerce me (not those exact words but similar) and he always had ‘release’, either through intercourse or pressuring me into sexual favours, or through masturbation. I can’t imagine he would have ever known what it felt like to not experience an orgasm when aroused, but he probably would’ve answered that he experienced pain when he didn’t orgasm because he believed in the blue balls theory. Whereas I have experienced it many times (and thankfully it was discomfort rather than pain). So it would be interesting to know how many of the men who reported pain did so because they believed in the blue balls theory in the first place but maybe have never known what it feels like to not orgasm when aroused.

    Reply
  3. Nessie

    It’s interesting that the study seemed to find compassion for the men’s discomfort and guilt for being the “cause” of it meant so many females felt they had to act, whereas I’d argue even more basic human compassion (to not rape/coerce) and a greater sense of guilt should warrant that men would not coerce a women into sexual release with this excuse, especially since so many women experience discomfort or pain with intercourse. (If he is the type to use the ‘blue balls’ theory, he’s likely the type that isn’t going to take his time, act responsively, or make sure she isn’t hurting.)

    I heard of this phenomenon as a teen. I didn’t really have a way to refute the claim since I do not have testicles. And even with a smidgeon of purity culture, it certainly would have branded females negatively if they tried to ask about such a thing.

    I value this series idea! Thanks for debunking for us!

    Reply
    • Anon

      I heard a christian woman marriage speaker say it’s similar to nursing mothers’ aching breasts.

      Reply
      • Nessie

        Which cracks me up because neither a man complaining of blue balls nor a nursing mom can truly know what the other feels in those anatomical parts.

        Reply
        • Jane

          Nessie it’s actually pretty simple to compare… ask a woman who has been a nursing mother and who has suffered blue bean. Both can be very painful. However, both can be relieved by one’s self if medically necessary.

          Reply
          • Nessie

            Jane,
            I still don’t have that anatomical part though (majority of people don’t have both testicles and clitorises) so I’m not going to get up in front of a lot of people and say that it is exactly that. I’d believe it more if it was compared to something that both males and females shared. Hope that makes sense.

      • R

        And how would she know? Lol

        Reply
        • Lisa Johns

          And anyway that’s not exactly “excruciating!”

          Reply
          • Jane

            Lisa actually it can be excruciating for women with overfull breasts. It’s why some women require medical assistance such as medications to “dry them up” or are recommended to use a breast pump to relieve the pressure. Please don’t assume that your experience is the same as everyone else’s. I’m a former nurse and also someone who had to stop breastfeeding suddenly and whether it was my own excruciating pain or the pain of my patients begging for relief from overfull breasts, I can tell you definitely it can be beyond excruciating for some women.

  4. Angela

    My high school boyfriend used this as an excuse to cheat on me and then blamed me for not being understanding that he didn’t have a choice.

    Reply
  5. Char

    I asked my husband about this topic when we got married. He was so confused because he had never even heard of it, and he was like, yeah, that’s not a thing. He literally said “sounds like something a guy made up to pressure his partner into sex.” 😳

    Reply
  6. Jo R

    From the study:

    “appears to resolve on its own (usually over a few minutes to hours) or with orgasm”

    “While many felt that the experience lasted from just a few minutes to under an hour, others stated that their experiences lasted several hours, with some with a penis reporting experiencing blue balls over the course of days.”

    So many women experience days of pain (plus symtoms like nausea and vomiting) with every period, plus that of pregnancy, childbirth or abdominal surgical delivery, tear or episiotomy recovery, and breastfeeding. There is the sizeable fraction of women who experience vaginismus or other sexual pain who are told to just suck it up and muscle through. Yet women are supposed to care so much about men’s transitory pain that we allow ourselves to get talked into sex of some kind?

    How much less compassion can men show to women? How much less compassion are women supposed to show themselves?

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Bravo, Jo R!

      Reply
  7. Anon

    My husband used to to say this all the time and I didn’t know better.

    Reply
  8. Celeste

    A loosening of the dogmatic anti-masturbation stance present in Christian circles would also help everyone calm down about this issue. There’s never an excuse to use anyone’s body because of “blue balls” or the female equivalent but in the secular world a man can be expected to take care of himself and no one has to suffer here. I see a lot of comments on the FB post about this, some saying their husbands don’t experience this at all, some saying the husband reports it’s excruciating. The research above and the anecdotes in the comments suggest results vary quite a lot here. And…if it is excruciating, it kind of makes me sad that this guy for whatever reason can’t use the 3 minute DIY solution, you know?

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yes, I do. I’d love to do more research into this.

      Reply
      • Rachel

        More research on Christianity and masturbation? Yes pls. We’ve had conversation with some friends on this before. It is so prevalent in secular culture, but so shamed and considered sinful in the church world. The Bible doesn’t have a ton (specifically) speaking to the subject.

        Reply
        • Lisa Johns

          OK, if we’re going to talk about masturbation, I’m going to vent a little. My ex was a compulsive masturbator (several times a day), and used to actually get OUT OF THE BED WITH ME to go in the bathroom and masturbate. It was a habit he picked up in his teens, and we got married when he was 30. He was married to his hand. Now, how am I to NOT think masturbation is not a thing that should be recommended?? (He never used the “blue balls” excuse, but did imply that he was erect so much that he “had” to do it to keep from being embarrassed by the lump. Ended up completely impotent because he was so overstimulated throughout the day that I was not attractive to him in the end.)

          Reply
          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            Exactly, this is my problem when we’re talking about it. I don’t think it’s about the action per se but rather the motivation/repercussions. The question I tend to ask is: Does this detract from intimacy, or enhance it? In your case (and many that I hear about on a daily basis), it definitely detracts. And that’s why I don’t think a blanket statement like “this is fine” is warranted.

        • Marc

          Hi Shiela,
          This was interesting for me. One thing I think yur missing here is how common pain can be after a vasectomy. I had terrible pain for many years after I was cut at 40. Now I’m 50. One of my testicles would get much larger than the other and I could hardly walk unless released every 48 to 60 hours. This caused problems in my marriage. Long story short… my doc tried all kinds of things and then was recommending a reversal. I decided not to. Many times my wife would help me, but she grew to resent it a bit. So now most times I fix it myself. I struggled with this, but have realized it better than being in severe pain, grumpy and causing problems in my marriage. I have researched this and it is not uncommon. If I had to do it again. I would not get a vasectomy. I am a huge fan of yours. Maybe you could do a post on post vasectomy issues.

          Reply
      • Jane

        Sheila it’s a complicated issue. I’m one of those who does suffer quite severe pain if aroused and not relieved but my husband would choose to masturbate in front of porn for hours a day but refuse to have sex with me. My arousal though was based on him starting foreplay then deciding he couldn’t be bothered continuing because he couldn’t maintain an erection after masturbating at every opportunity throughout the day.
        For years I felt masturbation was wrong. Part of me still feels that way despite only thinking about him when doing it. But I didn’t ask for him to deliberately arouse me and then decide a minute or two in he didn’t feel like doing more. I didn’t ask for him to watch porn and orgasm by himself multiple times a day. And I didn’t ask to have severe pain if aroused and unrelieved. Even more so, I didn’t ask him to put me down if I even so much think of “finishing myself off” after he’s aroused me and call me a hypocrite for needing to “finish it myself” when he’s started my arousal and mock me for saying “finishing myself is not the same as him pleasuring himself in front of porn for hours”.
        There has to be some kind of middle ground and an understanding that masturbation might be okay in certain circumstances.

        Reply
    • Perfect Number

      Yes I agree- like, there is an easy solution that doesn’t involve coercing anybody into sex

      Reply
  9. CMT

    Ooohkay… so males are only slightly more likely than females to have discomfort in this situation, but females are TEN TIMES more likely to be pressured for sex on the basis of alleviating their partner’s pain? When guys generally have no difficulty self-managing this “condition” in a matter of a few minutes? I wonder what the rate of discomfort is for females after PIV they weren’t aroused enough for. Does that matter, or does pain not count if a person with a vagina is experiencing it?

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      It is really infuriating!

      Reply
      • CMT

        Yes, it’s obnoxious. Even if he’s part of the small minority that experiences severe pain, as long as a guy has the use of at least one hand, he is NEVER facing a choice between enduring severe pain or pressuring a partner into providing him an orgasm. His choice is between his preferred route to orgasm and a less preferred one. It burns me up that as a society we are so conditioned to accept that men’s preferences are more important than women’s pain. A man’s “right” to pleasure how he wants it outweighs a woman’s right to bodily autonomy?? It’s nuts but it’s so ingrained a lot of us women go along without even realizing what they’re doing.

        Reply
      • Alex

        Blue balls is real. I felt the pain after prolonged make out sessions. But you can just masturbate to prevent the pain. No need for sex.

        Reply
  10. NM

    Huh. I remember when we were dating and making out a lot my husband mentioned blue balls in passing, but I think he just meant it as “I am sexually frustrated” (I was too!) and he didn’t expect me to do anything about it. How horrible that men use that as an excuse to pressure someone.

    As a woman I am quite uncomfortable for a few hours if I don’t reach orgasm, but I wouldn’t call it anything like pain. It does make me cranky though so hubby tries to avoid that scenario 😂

    Reply
    • Megan

      That sounds like my experience as well. My husband mentioned it, though I don’t think he ever called it blue balls, and his face showed that he was uncomfortable, but there was no expectation that either of us were going to do anything about it, he was just uncomfortable for a little while. So if someone on the higher level of discomfort can just keep going with his day, those with minor pain just just deal without coercing their partner.
      If anything it should be a negative feedback loop to the guy to say “perhaps you (the guy) should shut down the arousal pathway before this gets uncomfortable” not something that the girl has to manage especially as she doesn’t have the feedback to know how far would get uncomfortable.

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Exactly! He should be responsible for shutting it down.

        Reply
      • Courtney P Faokunla

        💯

        Reply
  11. April

    I heard this term in the past. But to me it sounds like another way for women to be held responsible for men and to be blamed for men release. I’m glad to know that there is a study done that it is not real.

    Reply
  12. TheRobotWife

    Yep. My husband has said this throughout our marriage, and before, now that I think about it….
    The truth is that he NEVER denies himself. If I’m not a willing participant, he turns to porn. Needless to say, I don’t feel close to him. Sex is entirely transactional and one-sided. I’m basically a blow-up doll. I hate it. I’ve tried to talk with him many times in the past about the porn use, etc, but ALL issues are my fault. If I just put out more, argue less, have no opinions, smile and nod more, everything would be fine. Sorry, feeling a little bitter about it all today.

    Reply
    • Laura

      TheRobotWife,

      You’re describing my first marriage. I am so sorry you’re dealing with this.

      Reply
    • Nessie

      TheRobotWife- you have every reason to feel bitter about this! I hope you know and feel your value and that you don’t have to put up with this. This blog has a lot of good posts and resource links regarding how to handle similar situations if you’re interested.

      Reply
    • K

      I am SO SORRY TheRobotWife for what you are going through. Everything about your post is so familiar to me – even your moniker. I remember praying that God would take my feelings away and turn me into a robot, because the only emotions I could rely on feeling were pain and sadness. And under the religious teaching I was receiving, I was meant to be “rejoicing in all circumstances.” I felt like an utter failure.

      You may want to read a Leslie Vernick’s “The Emotionally Destructive Marriage“ – she describes what you are feeling (the blow up doll) very well. The fact that you are apologizing for posting suggests that you are needing someone to come along side of you and reassure you that you’re not defectively “bitter” – you’re a hurting soul that can’t make peace with a legitimately painful situation. You are allowed to hurt. You are NORMAL for hurting. ♥️

      I really appreciated Ms. Vernick’s book. I have needed to follow other advice than what she offers in her other books to try and heal ( I was married to a very covert psychological terrorist) but this book was a very helpful beginning.

      Please be gentle with yourself. You’re not bitter. Your feelings are there because your soul is still alive and it’s crying out for some relief. ♥️

      Reply
      • TheRobotWife

        Thank you! It almost makes me cry to feel the kindness and caring from all of you! It is SO dehumanizing to feel repeatedly used. It is likely that I will no longer be married to my husband in a few years, as all the children will be out of H.S. at that point. He has informed me that he doesn’t want to be married to me when the children are out of the house, and I’ve intercepted text messages from his girlfriend that indicate he is plotting to have a life with her at one of our other homes. Ya just can’t make this stuff up. So there are many issues beyond the sex issue….but honestly, I think it all starts there. If I am only a means to an end, and I am not adequately fulfilling that role, nothing else I do matters at all. I don’t BELIEVE that, and I honestly do have a pretty good self-image, but I have to totally disconnect from what he says/implies about me in order to keep that accurate view of myself. Hence….Robot Wife. Ugh.

        Reply
        • Bekah

          Meet with an attorney now to financially plan! Especially with infidelity!

          Reply
          • TheRobotWife

            Thank you for the advice – I intend to do that when he is on a long business trip next month. It is long overdue. It’s been a 30 year journey of physical/emotional/psychological abuse, and now infidelity. I have stayed to protect my children, as the courts so often give 50% custody even to abusers. I believe I made the right choice, but there is nothing to keep me here when the children are grown.

          • K

            TheRobotWife – I am SO GRATEFUL to hear that you are making plans for your future!!

            I just want to pick up on a couple of things from what you are sharing and ask – have you made a safety plan? PLEASE, please do!

            This is not a question of “Do you think this man might hurt you?”

            This is a question of “This man IS hurting you (using your body, cheating on you, basically telling you you’re disposable) – HOW FAR is he actually willing to go??”

            The fact you are having to try and arrange to meet with an attorney behind his back – something at hut level in you already knows that there is danger in your situation.

            Please pick up a copy of “Why Does He Do That? – Inside the minds of angry and controlling men” By Lundy Bancroft if you can.

            Entitled men ( like your husband) are abusive men – and can be deadly men. The fact that you feel fear is statistically significant and it’s a critical warning that you need to look into this area if you haven’t already done so.

            I don’t want to come across preachy or heavy, but there are real warning bells here.

            My heart is really reaching out to you. Please be safe!! ♥️

          • K

            Something at GUT level … not “hut level” – sorry for the typo!

          • K

            TheRobotWife – THANK YOU for giving us this update!! I’m absolutely thrilled to hear that you have social support and also that you know what you are dealing with!!

            I really do wish you absolutely everything of the best on your path to freedom!! ♥️

        • Amie

          “Blue balls” was my ex’s excuse/justification for the first and many other marital rapes. In divorce he claimed I didn’t “like normal marital relations”. Rape was normal to him and saying he had to have it bc of blue balls was his reasoning. Free now. Bit lived through hell on earth

          Reply
          • TheRobotWife

            Thanks to you all for your care and concern! I am in the process of planning for the future. I read “Why Does He Do That?” and own a copy (GREAT book – absolutely changed the way I think about my situation), I have signed up for a counseling event with Leslie Vernick, and I am on the board of a local domestic violence shelter, which now gives me an added layer of protection. (He is aware that I have access to legal resources and DV counselors thru that organization, so he minds his behavior if for no other reason but to avoid bad PR.) I realize that, even tho I am still in a difficult situation, I am one of the fortunate ones; I have the financial resources to handle whatever is coming. There are many women who face great uncertainty under similar circumstances.
            I am so thankful for Bare Marriage…..it takes a lot of courage to tackle these hard subjects. I felt ALONE for so many years. I first became aware of Sheila’s resources in 2021, during a very difficult time, and her books and articles have been a lifeline.

          • K

            I tried to reply to you and got my buttons mixed up – it’s above.

            Thank you for letting us know your situation you know where you’re at – and I do wish you all the best as you get out of it!! ♥️

      • Lisa Johns

        “A very covert psychological terrorist” — that’s an interesting phrase! I’m glad you’re free. ❤️

        Reply
        • K

          Thank you, Lisa!
          I’m not quite free yet – trial is in process.🤯

          My ex is a phenomenon. People think I’ve exaggerated him until they experience him up close. I’ve watched him manipulate and run circles around people of all degrees of intelligence and from all walks of life.

          It’s not like he USES deceit and deception, it’s as though he IS deceit and deception.

          To my knowledge he isn’t a paedophile, but he uses the same techniques to seduce people to take advantage of them (for women that includes sexually) – while simultaneously convincing people he’s unimpeachably ethical.

          And they really DO believe him. Watching him at work is sickeningly, revoltingly, fascinating. ♥️

          Reply
          • Lisa Johns

            Sounds kinda like watching a snake. I pray this is done soon and that all works in your favor.

          • K

            Thank you Lisa!

    • Mrs.

      Robot Wife, I’m so sorry you are in this situation. My husband has been a p0rn addict for our entire marriage of 40 years. Yes I was stupid for not realizing. All I can think about is leaving him. This is like hell. He is such a liar and very deceitful. Please Google The Secret Sexual Basement. Hugs & Prayers.

      Reply
  13. Laura

    Yep, my ex-husband used this on me a lot before we were married. One of the reasons I gave in sexually after we got engaged. He complained about sexual frustration and being in pain if he couldn’t get release so he would have to do the job himself. This made him behave like a jerk and unfortunately, this was one giant red flag I ignored.

    Could this whole “blue balls” thing be why Shaunti Feldhan tells teenage girls it is better if they don’t make out with a guy rather than doing so because then they would have to stop?

    Reply
    • Jane

      I can’t speak to why Shaunti says it, but I can definitely say that I think that is why people shouldn’t make out unless they fully intend to finish the deed. Or get married unless they intend to have real sex life with their spouse either. None of this condones rape or coercion BUT people who would deliberately cause someone they claim to love pain by either deliberately arousing them knowing they have no intention to finish it or marry them knowing they will deprive them of a sex life, don’t genuinely love their partner.
      And I’m not talking about unmarried couples who get carried away and then half way through one realises they morally should stop, or married couples where there is a legitimate reason they can’t have a real sex life (eg health issues, distance etc) but i am talking about anyone who starts something they know they don’t intend to finish is cruel not loving.

      Reply
  14. Beth

    I absolutely felt pressure to give my husband sex anytime he got at all aroused, for at least the first 10 years of our marriage. The crazy thing is, that pressure came almost entirely from having read Christian marriage materials and receiving Christian advice. My husband had to begin assuring me over and over and over that I didn’t have to keep going and that anytime I wanted to stop it was fine. Sixteen years of marriage, and sex finally got really great for me in the past few years. (We are both much happier and enjoying more frequent intimacy and much more closeness overall!) And the delay was not because of my husband, but because I couldn’t rid myself of these internalized beliefs about owing him and being there primarily for his use and release. 😭

    Reply
  15. Tim

    TMI follows, but since you brought it up, we’ve been doing our own study on this…

    I decided, with wife’s permission of course, to give up intercourse for Lent (Mondays-Saturdays). Towards the end of the week, when I’ve given her two or three orgasms since last having one myself, it does get pretty uncomfortable. The best comparison I can think of is a muscle sprain or a mild cramp. Not debilitating at all, and doesn’t really prevent me doing anything I’d normally do (maybe running would be painful, but I’m not really a runner so haven’t tried). But it is a pretty constant mild-moderate pain and quite annoying.

    BUT, to be clear:
    – a pretty artificial situation. If I get aroused once and it doesn’t lead anywhere the discomfort is mildly annoying for a few hours at worst.
    – self-inflicted in this case
    – not complaining, just thought a first person perspective on the topic might be helpful
    – n=1, though based on that summary table I’d say my experience of this is pretty typical (i.e. some men would experience more pain/discomfort than me, some less)
    – needless to say, if I treated my wife or anyone else worse because of testicular pain, it would be because I was a bad person much more than because of the pain itself.

    It would obviously be unkind for a woman to repeatedly and deliberately get her husband aroused with no intention of anything sexual happening after (and based on that study, more or less equally true with genders reversed). But if you initiate and then life gets in the way then, unless your husband’s experience is way at the severe end of the curve it’s probably not something anyone should bother giving much thought to.

    Reply
    • Jo R

      Thank you for describing your experiment and the struggles you’re having.

      I’m trying to imagine a woman deliberately going into marriage KNOWING this type of frustration would be her lifelong experience. Of course, it wouldn’t be because she knew her husband would be so focused on himself that he wouldn’t give a rip snort about her experience. Rather, it’s because he can’t be bothered to have the slightest care for his wife, because as we all know, husbands get a complete pass on all that do unto others, consider others more highly than yourselves, better to give than to receive, love is not self-seeking, blah blah blah nonsense that nevertheless straitjackets women’s sexual experiences in marriage. Because God said so! He made men and women those ways! It’s completely the wife’s fault that her clitoris-bearing female body works differently from her husband’s male body! If women don’t like it, they should take it up with God! And when men teach God’s own truth, women should just sit down and shut up! At least until it’s time to spread ’em and act sexy! On the husband’s demand!

      And standard evangelical marriage is good because … why???? 🤔

      Reply
      • Tim

        Not sure how much of that was directed at me, but indeed. As you and Sheila both allude to, it’s revealing that the male and female experience of this are pretty similar on average, but only the male version has a name or gets talked about.

        Reply
        • Jo R

          Yes, because women aren’t people, and they don’t matter, because they’re not actually made in God’s image.

          It wasn’t directed at you personally, but I did want to draw a contrast to what you undertook to do voluntarily and the situation that WAAAAAYYY too many find themselves in—and completely involuntarily, because evangelical marriage and sex teaching directs the husband to focus on himself and the wife to focus on the husband.

          Who focuses on the wife? When does she ever get what she needs? Oh, that’s right, she doesn’t have needs. She only has desires, and those must, of course, give way to the man’s needs, because needs always trump desires. 🤬

          I’m SO over this nonsense.

          Reply
          • Tim

            Yes, absolutely. Totally different situations.

          • Chris B.

            If it makes you feel any better, I am a husband who regularly gets deined. Frequency is about once every 3wks(maybe). Yes I have experienced “blue balls” and no its not that bad for me. Yes I love my wife and rather she orgasm than myself. My wife has no physical limitations or pain. She says that she enjoys sex very much and Orgasms nearly every time. She just does not have the urge. I gladly put myself on the back burner anytime she needs me to. I gladly focus on any need that she has or has had over the course of our marriage. I am not a dependant, abusive, marital rapist, manipulator etc. Even though I do not get to make Love with my wife any where near as often as I would like to, I do not spend any of my time specifically trashing “all women”.

  16. Anonymous305

    I heard the idea from multiple people, so I didn’t even question it. I’ve never had balls…and I didn’t think any of those people would lie to me.

    The exact same thing happened with the idea that guys’ visual attraction is sooooo much stronger than girls. It’s not that I didn’t feel visual attraction, but I assumed that no matter how strongly I felt attracted, it must be a gazillion times more intense for guys. I couldn’t know what guys aféela without the research you presented.

    Today’s study gives me the impression that women are more likely to endure pain for the benefit of men, while men are more likely to cause pain for their own benefit. This corroborates my bitterness toward men, but the same study shows that plenty of men aren’t coercive.

    Reply
    • Anonymous305

      “Aféela” was supposed to be “feel”.

      Reply
      • NM

        I just imagined your post in a cool accent 😂

        Reply
  17. Lexi Jo

    Thank you for this! My soon to be ex husband used this on me all the time when I said no, telling me the pain was too much and pressuring me over and over again (he did this before we were married as well even though he knew I wanted to wait). I’m chronically ill so there are days my body just is in too much pain but that didn’t stop him and I had nothing to refute him with… now I know better thanks to you!

    Reply
  18. RB

    My husband and I have had so many times over the years when we were interrupted by a baby or child waking (always right when things are getting exciting 😂) – sometimes we could get said child back to sleep and pick up where we left off, but other times it just takes too long to get the little one back to bed. Often in this instance my husband would end up falling asleep if I was the one tending to the baby. So obviously not much discomfort going on for him in that case!
    He has even brought me to orgasm but declined intercourse or anything else for himself when I was heavily pregnant and he knew it would be a lot of effort for me. He’d just be like “I’m fine” and we’d go to sleep.
    He’s complained of pain exactly once – and that was because of an extended foreplay session which we dragged out way too long – so totally self-inflicted haha!

    Reply
  19. Taylor

    I’m curious how the percentages would look if this study included gay couples. Because I’m wondering, among other things, if male coercion for sex changes according to the gender of their parner. Like, do male and female sexual partners of males experience similar levels of coercion? Or do female partners of males experience greater coercion? Or male partners of males?

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I think the study included that and said that it happened there as well?

      Reply
      • Taylor

        At the end of the article, just before the conclusion, they say they weren’t able to discern whether the individuals answering the survey were engaged in same-sex or differentiated-sex activities. But that’s understandable because the primary purpose of the study was to examine blue balls/vulva.

        The question of whether or not the gender of a partner plays a role in the likelihood of the partner being pressured/coerced would need to be a different study.

        Reply
      • JC

        What about the claim that instead of “blue balls”, they suffer from “sperm retention headaches”?

        Reply
    • Lisa Johns

      That would be interesting to study!

      Reply
  20. Nathan

    In a rare moment, I’m going to correct JoR, who said (sarcasm added, of course)

    > > Oh, that’s right, she doesn’t have needs. She only has desires

    I think that the standard evangelical view is that wives DO have needs and/or desires, but according to many of them, her only “valid” need/desire should be to please her husband. Any other wants, needs, desires, etc. (even if it’s for own health) are sinful and selfish and should be eliminated.

    Reply
    • Jo R

      (Actually, it was a take on Eggy’s subtitle. 🤣)

      Reply
      • Nathan

        Good nickname for him. But yeah, I remember that, now.

        And, for the record, I’ve never experienced pain in that situation. Frustration, sometimes, but that’s easily resolved.

        Reply
        • Jo R

          I’d love to take credit, but I saw it in someone else’s comment, either a post here or on a Facebook post, and it just tickles me to no end.

          It reminds me of the two quotes at the front of The Screwtape Letters, that the devil cannot bear to be mocked. 👿 🤣

          Reply
  21. Graham

    I find it interesting that looking at the stats it seems that women actually experience this MORE than men yet that is pretty much left out of the discussion.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I was surprised by that too!

      Reply
  22. Chris B.

    Is there such a thing as emotional version of Blue balls ? The reason I ask is because after 2 wks of no sex I can feel the frustration start to build. Between 2 and 3wk mark I start to have some bad days, emotionally speaking. Something inside me starts to change, I become progressively more negative about almost anything throughout the course of the day. I am usually a positive person but it feels like a struggle each day. Thoughts of making Love with my wife consume my day. I think of her constantly. There have been several 4wks plus draughts. I have noticed this pattern over the course of the last 10yrs. But then when we make Love I feel great. Ready to conquer the world again. If frequency stays about 2wks then all is ok, not great but bearable. But like clockwork when we pass the 2wks mark I can feel the frustration build again.

    Reply
    • Tim

      I can relate to that. I can also see from your previous comment that the usual things the Bare Marriage team talks about that lead to infrequent sex (pain or lack of pleasure for the woman, abusive/dependent relationship dynamics etc) don’t seem to be an issue in your marriage.

      You didn’t exactly ask for help, but I’m guessing that’s the subtext of your question (please feel free to ignore if this is unwanted advice). Are you and your wife able to talk openly about sex and how it (or the lack of it) makes each of you feel? If not, would each of you be willing/able to see a counsellor to help with that?

      Also, I don’t know much about it, but there’s a ‘Boost your libido’ course available on this website which (from my limited understanding) was written for couples in more or less your situation. Perhaps you could look into that and ask if your wife would be willing to work through it.

      Reply
      • Chris B.

        Would love to put all advice into motion.

        Reply
    • Jane

      Chris B it might not be an exact answer to your question but I believe there definitely is an emotional “blue balls” that happens. But my reasons for thinking this aren’t quite the situation you’re thinking of.
      My exhusband was the refuser in our relationship. We’d be lucky to have sex every 1-2 months. I’d asked at least 1-2 times per week (it was more at first but I got sick of being verbally and emotionally abused for trying to initiate any form of intimacy). He was also quite an angry, and, at times, violent man.
      I found for roughly 2-3 days after we had sex, he’s become kinder, would stop being abusive to the kids and me, wouldn’t be violent, and rarely have any anger in those 2-3 days. His depression and anxiety would also go away. He was a totally different person.
      It wasn’t about the physical orgasm (as he regularly masturbated) and it wasn’t about me orgasming (as he’d usually orgasm first and stop and leave me “unsatisfied” and with genuinely very painful blue bean sometimes, especially as he thought it was wrong for me to finish myself so I usually didn’t). But him orgasming through PIV made him emotionally an entirely different person for 2-3 days. It was like being married to an entirely different person.
      And yet he kept avoiding sex! Calling me a pervert for wanting sex 2-3 times a week. I wanted it that much because HE became a happier person, and towards the end of our marriage, it also made him a safer person for both me AND the kids (who he would stop abusing for that 2-3 days after sex with me).
      He enjoyed the sex, it made him much happier across all domains of his life for several days, so why on earth would he be a refuser and grumble that we were having sex “too much” at less than once a month frequency???

      Reply
      • Chris B.

        Jane, sorry to hear that you have had to experience that. Hope you are in a better place now.
        So many benefits to sex. Refusing sex in a healthy marriage is like refusing medicine.

        Reply
  23. Anonymous

    I think there is definitely some validity to the condition as my husband had pain a number of times early on in our marriage, he had saved himself for marriage and it was about a month before he was able to “finish ” when we had sex. During that time he was often in pain for a while, but of course it was never ended up being that he wanted me to do something, it was something that happened because we did. Once he was able to finish it’s only happened a handful of times in the last 12 years (if I think about it more often in the 6weeks after a baby:-). It definitely seemed to me like a pretty uncomfortable situation. I would guess not everyone is affected the same. Of course it shouldn’t ever be a reason to mistreat someone, but I’d not make fun of or discount someone having that experience.

    Reply
  24. Sue

    I am not familiar with the term “blue balls”, but I am certainly familiar with the concept of a man getting aroused, and having unbearable pain and discomfort if he does not move forward to orgasm. AND that it my fault, or my responsibility. My memory is having read it in one of the famous books and certainly taught it from my husband. He would be so cranky and angry – “you just don’t understand men.” I understood what was taught about men more than I understood my own sexual desires and response.
    I have experienced vulva pressure and fullness that takes a while to dissipate when aroused without climax, but I would not call it pain.

    Reply
  25. Ross

    I’m a man and I’ve experienced pretty significant pain when I was sexually aroused significantly with my wife before we were interrupted by kids or something else. This has happened more than once, so anyone that says it isn’t a real thing is just full of it. That said, it was never completely excruciating pain. Just very painful. Absolutely tolerable. And it sure as heck didn’t make me lose my reasoning abilities, so any man who uses that as an excuse for cheating is just being silly.

    Reply
  26. KayTee

    Before my husband and I were married, we had a couple of times during an extended make-out session that he experienced what he reported as pretty severe pain and a swollen feeling (he’s not a medical whiner in general). We just iced it… and after a few instances he went to see the doctor because he was scared, lol. Doctor didn’t get what he was saying and gave him antibiotics because maybe his prostate was swollen- ha!

    Anyway, we were both so sheltered that we didn’t even know “blue balls” was a thing. I learned about it later in college from a roommate who knew more than me. I kind of wish we had known, would have saved a trip to the doctor and a lot of worry. And he never pressured me because of it or anything else. It’s interesting to me that I today I find that he’s in the minority, the one the rest of the scary stories are based off of I guess. Of note, it only happened after quite a while of being aroused, he can get erect and let it pass just fine as long as it’s not an extended timeframe.

    Reply
  27. Anonymous

    I’ve literally never heard of this, and without sounding harsh, I’m kind of surprised it has been an effective tactic for coercion because it seems so absurd (excruciating pain? that just doesn’t make sense if you think about it in the wide variety of contexts possible throughout history). Especially these days when medical research is so readily available on topics like this.

    My husband and I both grew up different versions conservative. But thankfully when it comes to sexuality, I think we both dodged that bullet because of our individual family cultures. It’s only in my 20s and 30s as friends and I entered serious relationships and marriage that this kind of craziness started coming to the surface in discussions. I find it honestly shocking because some of these girlfriends grew up in the same church and circles as myself, but we came out with vastly different versions of reality.

    Reply
  28. Jane

    Sheila, of course you’re correct that rape and coercion are never okay, but what would you say to those whose spouses do get very painful blue balls/bean and who deliberately withhold sex from their spouses for months on end with no health reason, no spiritual reason, basically no other reason than “sex doesn’t particularly interest them so they just don’t have sex and who cares what their spouse may desire”.
    Especially where masturbation (especially female masturbation) is so condemned in Christian circles?
    I never see men who withhold sex for no reason (or for actively bad reasons, such as deliberately trying to make their wife feel worthless and undesirable by anyone so that she won’t leave him) ever chastised for withholding. It’s different if there is a reason such as health issues, or tiredness from working hard or whatever, but I’m talking about when the man (or the woman, doesn’t really matter which), withholds sex because they couldn’t care less about their spouse or they actively want to hurt their spouse. Especially where the spouse does suffer physical pain from the lack of sex (and especially where the withholder is frequently getting their “release” via choosing masturbation rather than sex).
    Why is there never any condemnation of spouses who do that?
    To be blunt, all the complementarians and “Eggys” of the evangelical world, automatically condemn women for withholding even for valid reasons, but why does no one condemn those (especially men!) who callously withhold for either no reason or malicious reasons.

    Reply
    • Lisa Johns

      Actually, there has been discussion on this platform about men who do that — it’s called deprivation, and I Corinthians 7:4-5 addresses it. And Sheila has talked about it, as have several of us in the comments. (I was in a marriage like that, and I have shared pretty extensively at times.) But you are right; in the platforms at large, the topic rarely gets addressed. But you are not alone in being aware of the problem.

      Reply
  29. Terrell Parker

    I’m a guy and I’ll provide my experience with “blue balls”: When it occurs, and it has from time to time since puberty, it is a mild consistent ache, similar to the pain and pressure experienced if you get hit in the balls, but long-lasting. The closest pain I think everyone can relate to is diarrhea cramps in the low abdomen. In fact, it can make you feel like you need to poop.

    For me, it happens one of two ways: 1. Extended foreplay, and by extended, I mean an hour or more…seems relative to the length of time an erection is maintained without orgasm. 2. Guys like me that have sensitive olfactory nerves can sometimes develop blue balls from certain perfumes or a woman’s natural pheromones. I recognize No. 2 may be a bit “primal”, but it’s real for me and I’d be interested to know if other men experience this. There have been studies done regarding pheromonal attraction and compatibility. Its real. If my wife wears one of the Burberry perfumes and we’re driving in the car for an hour or more…it happens! Also, we both have a noticable sensitivity and attraction to each other’s scent. Some may think that sounds gross or weird, but I think on some primal level we mostly ignore, it is a compatibility thing.

    However, my discomfort has never been used to pressure another person into sexual activity. And I agree, that the excuse of getting blue balls should never be used in that manner. Uhhhh, God gave us two hands…use one!

    Reply
  30. Anon

    The study shows it does exist, and I don’t deny that it does, but that in no way justifies sexual coercion.

    I personally don’t experience this. When my now-wife and I were dating, we frequently got aroused from physical intimacy. We’d make out for hours. Shirts might come off, I’d look down her top anyways if not (she likes that), and often we’d touch, under clothes and underwear, the bare skin of each other’s butt and her breasts. And once engaged, eventually we’d sometimes even pull off everything but underpants and her bra, or touch over clothes between the legs. Yet, despite these obviously VERY arousing activities, I never experienced “blue balls” to any significance. I’m sure it happens to some. If it’d happened to me, I just would’ve either taken care of things privately or toned it down (probably the former, hehe).

    Reply

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