“Blue Balls” & the Point of No Return: Man-Made Myths?

During my dating years, there were two phrases men liked to bring up in an effort to convince women that they not only wanted but needed to have sex. I have long wondered about the veracity of their claims. Were they stating an objective fact? Twisting the truth a little? Telling an outright lie? Or did they believe wholeheartedly in what they were saying? (As George Costanza on Seinfeld said, “It’s not a lie, if you believe it.”)

I’m betting that some husbands have used them from time to time as well.

Myth vs. FactHere are the phrases:

“I’ve Got Blue Balls.” Unfortunately, that’s what it’s called. However, the proper scientific name is vasocongestion.

The condition of “blue balls” does exist. During sexual arousal, a man’s testicles fill with blood and swell to approximately 50% larger. If this pressure is not relieved through ejaculation, the man’s testicles may ache.

The claim that orgasm is the best way to relieve the pain is partially true. Ejaculation is the fastest way to relieve that aching feeling and cause the blood flow and swelling to go down. However, without having sex or ejaculation, the blood and swelling will slowly subside.

To be fair, a small number of men report that the pain of prolonged arousal without ejaculation can last for several hours and can affect not only the testicles but even the lower abdomen. One man likened the brush-off of vasocongestion to people who claim that menstrual cramps are mostly in your head; as we gals know, that’s a load of hooey. So if men say it hurts, I believe that it hurts.

The conclusion I draw is twofold: First, men should not be getting aroused for long periods of time without the possibility of climax. When we engage as God intended, with a husband and wife arousing and satisfying one another, intense vasocongestion won’t occur. (Prolonged, unavoidable times away from one another are an exception.) Yet, fooling around outside marriage or engaging in pornographic arousal or other activities may cause problems. Second, the claim of “blue balls” is still not a reason to engage in intercourse outside the parameters that God commanded, so men shouldn’t use the excuse and women shouldn’t buy it.

“I’m at the Point of No Return.” The way that I heard men use “point of no return” (with me and with girlfriends) is different from what my research unveiled. Guys claimed that at some point in sexual arousal, they couldn’t stop and needed to have sex.

The point of no return recognized in my research is that moment when ejaculation cannot be stopped. But men retain control of where that ejaculation occurs, and it is not necessary to have intercourse to complete the male orgasm. Although the physical response to ejaculate becomes involuntary at some point, the decision to engage sexually is still voluntary. And prior to that moment of automatic response, he retains control.

Of course, God’s design is for a husband and wife to engage together, and the husband to ejaculate as part of the sexual act between them. Physical intimacy in marriage may include penetration or another form of bringing about the husband’s ejaculation with the wife’s assistance (e.g., oral sex, “hand job”).

Pre-marriage, the man’s “point of no return” does not include a need to penetrate. He still has a choice. Moreover, he shouldn’t be getting to that point with a woman who doesn’t have a ring, a vow, and a wedding album.

As I suspected, these phrases are suspect as reasons to engage in sexual intercourse. Yet, being aroused over and over without release is hard to cope with. In marriage, however, I don’t believe the physical side of the difficulty is as painful as the emotional rejection.

If a husband is turned on by his wife, desires to be intimate with her, and is repeatedly rejected, he may get a case of vasocongestion. However, I hear more husbands complain of a blue heart than “blue balls.” They take it personally that their wives don’t want to engage sexually with them and can’t understand why this way of expressing love is off limits.

Still, husbands shouldn’t use phrases like the ones above to convince wives to engage sexually. At best, they may get pity sex.

Wives, meanwhile, shouldn’t withhold sexually to the point that their husbands are so uptight that they are willing to settle for pity sex. At best, they will feel used.

Discuss with each other what your desired frequency is. You could compromise between the two, or go for broke and follow author Sheila Gregoire’s advice of “Just Say Yes to Sex!

Remember that intimacy is not about satisfying physical needs or inclinations. Yes, God made us fleshly beings with desires and sensations, but we are made in His image as persons who desire connection. God desires to connect with us, and He designed marriage as a lifelong connection between a man and a woman.

Sexual intimacy expresses and fosters that connection. If a husband and wife are engaging with each other as God intended, those two phrases will rarely, if ever, be used.

What do you think? Have you heard these claims before? What is your opinion of them?

10 thoughts on ““Blue Balls” & the Point of No Return: Man-Made Myths?

  1. IAAMM

    Yes, the phrases were all too common during my pre-marital dating (not from hubby of course). I felt offended that a man would insult my intelligence by thinking that I would feel obligated or be compelled to be the blue ball reliever.

    My response each and every time was a sarcastic, “well, handle your business.”

  2. Greg

    My personal opinion is that those excuses are just that–excuses. Just something to remember on this:

    Arousal is not always because a man wills it; it can occur from one or more of what we visually see, physically feel, and think about…but there are also different stages of arousal for both men and women. IMO, only the last stage of arousal for men might actually be a problem.

  3. Sheila

    Thanks for the shout out, J! I do think that within marriage, a lot of men are just very physically frustrated, especially if they’re still in their twenties when hormones are really raging.

    A lot of men have trouble sleeping if they’re aroused and their wives aren’t interested, for instance. This is a hard one, because you don’t want women to engage in “pity sex”, and to be told that “you have a duty to your husband” makes sex sound so–well–just for him.

    But it’s not! So I think the message needs to be (and this is the message that you give very well) sex should be an important and beautiful part of your marriage for BOTH of your sakes. Women may not need sex physically like men do, but we do need that connection emotionally. And sex can relieve so much stress! So if you’re making love out of pity, or if you’re withholding, don’t just think about what he’s missing out on. Think about what you’re missing out on, too!

    Sheila from To Love, Honor and Vacuum!

  4. Julie Sibert

    Great post! I echo what you share as well as what Sheila shares.

    What I would add is that it is powerful in a marriage when both a husband and a wife can grow to appreciate being desired. I cringe when I hear a wife say “all he wants me for is my body” or “he’s such an animal.” I know it can go both ways, but seems there are many wives who simply mis-interpret what more often than not is genuine desire. Sometimes I feel like shouting, “Your husband desires you. Isn’t that a good thing?”

    When a husband and wife embrace what it means to not only desire, but also to be desired, their sexual intimacy usually moves to a more profound level of tenderness and oneness. (Hmmm… I feel a blog post coming on. Ha!)

    Keep writing great stuff. You’re so good at it. Seriously. You might as well keep doing it! 🙂

  5. Greg

    “When a husband and wife embrace what it means to not only desire, but also to be desired, their sexual intimacy usually moves to a more profound level of tenderness and oneness. (Hmm… I feel a blog post coming on. Ha!)”

    Ladies (J, Julie, Sheila and others), please (please!) DO keep shouting–and posting–this truth, and don’t get weary in well-doing. This is ‘readable encouragement’ in every sense of the word. Thank you for not only being passionate about it, but putting feet to that passion!

  6. Greg

    P.S. many voices in the church seem to be saying “Do you know what might happen if we talk about _sex_?” :-O I would reply with “Look at what’s happened because we _haven’t_ talked about sex!”

    Blogs seem to be one of the most effective means of beginning to deal with the stranglehold that Satan has on the church in this area.

  7. J

    IAAMM – Your words “blue ball reliever” just summarized how insulting it can feel to be seen as just taking care of his business when sex is supposed to be about intimacy between two people.

    SHEILA – You are so right. In fact, I think pity sex IS withholding: It’s just withholding parts of yourself, not the sex itself. I love your statement that “we do need that connection emotionally.” So true. And also why these pleas don’t really hit the mark because they seem so devoid of that emotional connection. If I feel emotionally valued by my hubby, though, I don’t mind one bit relieving his pent-up sexual stress. Interestingly enough, hubbies can feel emotionally valued when we relieve their pent-up stress. (Whew, this stuff can be a challenge.)

    JULIE – “A profound level of oneness and tenderness” – isn’t that what it’s all about? It takes some vulnerability and focusing on the other to get to that point. When we engage as God intended, hopefully the issues I discussed above won’t ever be a problem. Our physical and emotional needs will be met. (I would argue that sex has a spiritual component as well.)

    GREG – Your comments are so encouraging. Thank you! Blessings.

    Thanks to all for commenting!

  8. themarriagebedcom

    J – You got the biology right, and well done for someone who does not have the part being discussed.

    Beyond that, you nailed how things should work in marriage. Getting hubby to the point of high arousal and not finishing is cruel. Yes most guys like to be teased, but only when they know that release is going to happen.

  9. Anonymous

    Sexual frustration due to infrequency of sex or long periods between sex also causes wives to experience physical and emotional symptoms i.e genital discomfort, aching, anxiety, restlessness, irritability, inability to sleep, etc.

    This is far from a male only issue.

  10. Heather

    My husband has told me that it is a myth… perhaps he just does not get it or has never suffered the condition. We HAVE experienced the point of no return… luckily he knows his body well enough to know when he needs to ‘get out’. I did have a boyfriend when I was younger who used that term a lot… although we messed around a lot more than we ever should have, so in hindsight, it probably was true. Thanks for the myth busting! (or not busting)

Comments are closed.