What Happens To Women When They Don't Have An Orgasm

There's no doubt you've heard the phrase "blue balls" or experienced it personally. The idea of men not getting relief after being sexually aroused is widely known and discussed. If you're the owner of female reproductive parts, however, you may not have heard the term "blue vulva," although chances are good you've experienced it personally as well.

What is blue vulva? It's described as an aching, heavy feeling in the genitals that develops after being sexually turned on, but not having the release of an orgasm. It may produce discomfort, irritation, or even pain. Sound familiar?

What causes it? During sexual arousal, blood flow to the genitals increases — technically called vasocongestion — and arteries widen to allow more blood to flow into the area. This causes the erectile tissue in the clitoris to swell (per Health), the vagina to lubricate, and genital blood pressure to increase, according to the International Society for Sexual Medicine. (Despite the name, the genitals don't actually turn blue, but may appear bluish due to the extra blood flow.) When a woman reaches orgasm, the blood retreats from the genital area. But when climax doesn't occur, the slower release of blood may become uncomfortable, just as it is for a man with blue balls.

How common is blue vulva?

There aren't any statistics on how many women experience blue vulva, as it is a phenomenon that hasn't been well studied. However, it's a misconception that blue vulva isn't common, psychotherapist Fran Walfish, PsyD, told Health. In her practice, she has found that many women, particularly those over 40, have trouble achieving orgasm during sex. And, if that's the case, then surely blue vulva follows right behind that.

Studies have been conducted on how many women climax during heterosexual sex. In the National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior, conducted by researchers at, or affiliated with, the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at the Indiana University School of Public Health, 64 percent of women reported having had an orgasm during their most recent sexual event. For comparison, 85 percent of the men reported having had an orgasm.

That's a fairly large minority of women who are ending their sexual encounter orgasm-less, and, probably, with blue vulva. So it's safe to assume that women of all ages and sexual experience levels, and in any kind of relationship, have had blue vulva at one time or another.

Easing blue vulva

On its own, blue vulva will gradually dissipate without causing any harm, but if you want to relieve the discomfort more quickly, and your partner is unable to help you achieve orgasm, turn to your trusty vibrator. Problem solved! If that's not a possibility, you can take a cold shower or put a cold compress on the vaginal area. Distracting yourself with nonsexual thoughts and activities will work too.

You may also have a sense of disappointment and frustration in addition to the physical discomfort in your genitals. Yes, orgasms are wonderful in that they cause intense pleasure and sensations all through the body, as well as an altered state of consciousness (per Healthline), and in their absence, you may experience blue vulva. But there is more to sex than orgasms, and there is more to sexual satisfaction than the physical release. "Orgasm and satisfaction are two distinct constructs.There are a lot of overlaps between them, but they are distinct," Justin Garcia, Ph.D., an assistant professor of gender studies at Indiana University and a researcher at the Kinsey Institute, told Healthline.

Remember that talking with your partner about your sexual desires can help ease any sexual frustration. Be open and honest about what you like and dislike, so that both of you can enjoy sex and all that comes with it.