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Stretching: An Unsung Remedy For Blue Balls

Blue balls can cause pain in the testicles that stretching can cure..
An easy discipline that changed my life for the better. (Photo cred: @bigmouthymouth)

In medicinef, blue balls goes by the name “epididymal hypertension.” According to Healthline, blue balls  “can cause pain and aching in the testicles after having an erection without an orgasm” but is “not serious” (Blue Balls: Understanding Epididymal Hypertension). In this article, I use the term blue balls to denote sexual frustration more generally. Blue balls is the condition of having strong sexual desires with no sexual outlet.  

This website is premised on the belief that PMO is inadvisable as a method to satisfy one’s libido. PMO comes with a host of problems, side effects, if you will–physical, mental, social, and spiritual–that far outweigh its benefits. In the absence of a healthy sexual outlet, sexual desire must be controlled rather than expressed.

The question today is what do we do when our sex drive outpaces any healthy, wholesome outlet we have at our disposal (e.g. a marital partner)?

How To Control Libido And Relieve Sexual Frustration

In the face of strong sexual urges, some people take cold showers, work out, distract themselves with an activity, or invest their energy into school, work, or relationships. Spiritual people pray and take measures to develop a stronger connection with God. Sexual transmutation, which is the redirection of sexual energy into non-sexual pursuits, is a time tested way of relieving sexual frustration. Other people’s intentionality consists of “Doing nothing,” and waiting for time to pass (What To Do About My Strong Sexual Urges?.) Many people have found that it gets easier to control sexual appetite over time. The first few weeks of abstinence are typically the most intense, then the body begins to adjust to a new normal (temporary or otherwise) of infrequent, or non-existent, sexual release.

However, this article isn’t about the medium and long-term. It’s about the here and now. What can we do, today, about our strong sexual urges? I have experimented with a myriad of tools over the years to address this problem, including all of the ones mentioned in the previous paragraph. One that has been highly effective for me that I practice on a routine basis (for the all-around benefits, as well) is stretching. Who would have guessed? Stretching for most of my life was what you did for a few minutes before playing a sport, to avoid injury. Stretching is also what you did after getting injured, to speed up recovery. It had no practical application for me outside of these contexts.

What prompted me to give stretching a second look was the testimony of none other than David Goggins. Goggins is a former American Navy Seal, extreme athlete, and author of Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind And Defy The Odds, which has sold more than five million copies to date. I was a fan of Goggins, and I was intrigued by the passage in his book where he credits stretching for “saving his life.” Goggins said that his body had become so tense from childhood trauma, cumulative emotional stress, and an extreme athletic lifestyle that he seriously thought he was going to die. He couldn’t exercise anymore. He had masses on his head and hips. He had lost two inches vertically. He compared his body to a “rock.” To make a long story short, Goggins discovered stretching through a military contact; within months of daily practice, stretching relieved the extreme tightness he felt, healed his thyroid, and shrunk the stress-induced masses that had grown on his body.

Blue balls, or sexual frustration, is a kind of physical stress. It is an uncomfortable feeling that urges us to satisfy it, if not sexually then through some other physically gratifying means. In general, whenever people feel bodily tension, they seek some form of release, in the form of food, drugs, or sex. In my experience, physical stress in the form of anxiety, anger, shame, etc. is fuel for the fire of lust (and other impulsive, instantly gratifying behaviors). In my experience, reliving physical stress takes a lot of the edge off blue balls. In many cases, it resolves it entirely.

Stretching To Relax The Mind And Body

As I wrote about in this article, many times we think we need a sexual release, when, in reality, we really just need a physical one. Unlike the intense workouts I do (sympathetic nervous system–fight or flight), stretching has an opposite purpose (parasympathetic nervous system–relaxation). The purpose isn’t to increase flexibility or achieve other athletic goals (even though I have gotten a lot more flexible and increased range of movement). The purpose is to relax, get blood flowing, and relieve physical tension. I have stretched my body lightly for around 30 minutes to an hour, multiple times a week, for almost a year and a half; in silence, while watching TV, and sometimes even while hanging out with friends and family. Stretching (static and dynamic) doesn’t need to take that long, but you may find, like I did, that the time flies.

Stretching relaxes me and improves my mental and physical state every time. And that relaxant, wholesome effect carries over for several hours. From the evening, into the night and following day. Or from the morning, throughout that day and evening. By the end of each session, I often completely lose any urge I might have had to PMO, turn to sugary food, or engage in an impulsive activity. Stretching has helped me relieve chronic pain that plagued me for years. When I discovered stretching, it was a godsend. A “common grace,” as the theologians like to say, that I needed no one and nothing to experience time and again.

Back to blue balls. In sum, stretching for me has become my go-to to relieve it. I’m far from an expert, but I feel strongly enough about it based on personal experience to dedicate this chapter. And credit to David Goggins for sharing his story because without it I may never have discovered this gem.

For more, check out Changing My Emotional State. Also, see the complete archive of articles on integrity.

Bonus: I leave you with a fascinating YouTube compilation from the notorious David Goggins entitled “The 3 Hour Stretching Routine That Saved My Life.”

An intellectually curious millennial passionate about seeing people make healthy, informed choices about the moral direction of their lives. When I’m not reading or writing, I enjoy hiking, web-making, learning foreign languages, and watching live sports. Alumnus of Georgetown University (B.S.) and The Ohio State University (M.A.).

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