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diagram of penisWhen a healthy man becomes sexually aroused, his body's nervous system sends a signal that starts the flow of blood to the genital tissues. When this happens, regional muscles contract to increase localized blood pressure and an erection is formed. This process, known as vasocongestion, normally ends once ejaculation is achieved and the penis returns to it's flaccid state. In cases when orgasm does not provide release, a condition sometimes called "blue balls" can occur.

While this condition is sometimes attributed to the build up of interstitial fluids resulting from a venereal disease, in most cases it is due to prolonged sexual stimulation which does not end in climax.

In most instances, vasocongestion is relieved once ejaculation is reached. The internal arteries constrict and veins widen which allows the blood flow to return to normal. Under some circumstances however, blood and lymphatic fluids can begin to pool because of a prolonged erect state. This causes oxygen deprivation in the blood which can result in the skin of the scrotum taking on a blue-like color - hence the name blue balls.

Because the testicles are very sensitive, they are easily subject to pain. Depending on the severity of this condition, the end result can mean increased tenderness and swelling of the testes or even extreme painful cramping in the testicle and prostate region. When tissues becomes oxygen-starved from ischemia (a decrease in blood supply), they become even more susceptible to pain.

Additional unpleasantness can arise due to prostatic congestion. In normal sexual encounters, fluid builds up in the prostate in anticipation of ejaculation. When this does not occur or is delayed over an extended period of time, this fluid accumulates and can cause discomfort in the entire genital region.

While ejaculation itself will normally fix this situation, there are other methods that have been suggested to provide relief. As cited in this case report from the American Academy of Pediatrics, lifting a heavy object such as a car's bumper may help. The act of straining itself may in fact work to equalize blood pressure within the body and allow the normal flow of blood to resume.

Fortunately most cases of blue balls only last a short period of time (usually less than an hour) before the body sends the signal to resume normal blood flow. If you experience discomfort or pain for a much greater length of time, it is recommended that you consult a physician for professional diagnosis and advice.

Posted by PRS
Thursday, October 25th, 2007


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