Blue Waffle Disease: Is It A Real STD? Blue Waffle Disease Myth v Reality

Is Blue Waffle Disease Real? Here’s What You Need To Know About The Disturbing Viral Photo

Blue Waffle Disease
Yan Krukov/Pexels

Oh the joys of the internet, for every carefully curated Pinterest board designed to bring us joy, there’s an equally alarming urban legend lurking just a few clicks away. One of the most persistent viral photos that has left people panic-searching in the middle of the night is an image that supposedly shows a labia that’s been turned blue due to the dreaded Blue Waffle Disease. If you’ve never heard of this supposed disease before, then consider yourself lucky, because that likely means you’ve been spared the sight of the disturbing viral image that accompanies its description.

As reported by Healthline, around 2010, graphic images of a labia with lesions, pus, and a blue discoloration began making the rounds on the internet alongside claims that the culprit was a sexually transmitted disease (STD) known as Blue Waffle Disease (“waffle” is a slang term for vagina, hence the name). According to the unfounded claims shared alongside the photo, Blue Waffle Disease affects women with multiple sexual partners or who fail to practice good hygiene. As you may have guessed, absolutely none of these claims are true, and furthermore, doctors have since debunked the existence of the so-called Blue Waffle Disease altogether.

While there are STDs that can lead to lesions on the labia and other vaginal area issues, there is no known condition — STD or otherwise — that will turn your labia blue. What’s more, STDs almost always affect women and men indiscriminately, so the idea that there’s a sexually transmitted infection exclusively targeting women with multiple sexual partners is more than a little bit sexist. Like so many urban legends that came before it, no one is sure who is responsible for starting the Blue Waffle Disease rumors, but if you’re still feeling a little unsettled by the image, here’s what you need to know about what doctors have to say about this made-up STD, as well as how to protect yourself from real STDs.

What do doctors have to say about Blue Waffle Disease?

Since the photo gained viral status, doctors have done their best to assuage people’s Blue Waffle Disease concerns. In 2017, the Annals of Internal Medicine website shared a speech from family medical doctor Anita Ravi, MD, during which she debunked the existence of the rumored STD. “It is a well-known, elaborate internet hoax with somebody who has extensive, beautiful photoshopping skills,” she said. However, she went on to elaborate that discussing the fake STD actually helped her open up a line of dialogue with patients who may otherwise have felt embarrassed to ask her questions concerning their sexual health.

According to Ravi, the Blue Waffle hoax inadvertently opened her eyes to a new way of starting productive conversations with patients surrounding taboo health issues. Even though it’s not real, Blue Waffle Disease is indicative of how many of us research health issues these days — by turning to the internet. And although the internet can sometimes provide a starting point to help people talk to their doctors about potential health issues, it’s also far too often a fount of misinformation. For Ravi, educating herself on this fake STD actually ended up making it easier for her to talk about real STDs and other issues people may have otherwise found too embarrassing to discuss with her.

The moral of the story is if you ever read about an alarming new disease on the internet, ask your doctor about it. Chances are they’ll be able to give you the facts, and your internet fears may even lead to a more productive conversation about your health in the long run.

Are any of the symptoms of Blue Waffle Disease real?

Here’s some good news for you: There’s no known disease out there that will turn your genital area blue. However, the other symptoms of Blue Waffle Disease are associated with real STIs and STDs. If you notice any of the following in your vaginal region, it’s always good to get checked by a doctor:

  • pain
  • itching
  • increased or abnormal vaginal discharge
  • scabs
  • a burning sensation when you urinate
  • bumps
  • sores

These could be symptoms of an STD like gonorrhea, chlamydia, or genital herpes, or indicate a non-sexually transmitted issue that needs immediate attention.

Even something as common as a yeast infection can cause discomfort and redness, so the bottom line is if you feel like something is off with your vaginal health, it never hurts to talk with your doctor or OB-GYN about any concerns you may have.

How can you protect yourself from STIs and STDs?

Blue Waffle Disease isn’t real, but an estimated 20 million new cases of STIs and STDs are reported each year, according to the CDC. The best way to protect yourself is to practice safe sex, and if you have teens, it’s a good idea to start an open dialogue with them about the importance of safe sex practices, too. As is the case with most issues, knowledge is power, but there’s still a general lack of sexual education in schools.

The CDC reports that STIs and STDs affect young people between the ages of 15 to 24 at a disproportionate rate (around half of all new cases reported in a single year affect people within that age range). Here are the best ways to protect against STDs and STIs:

  • Always practice safe sex (use a condom, dental dam, or other approved device).
  • Remind your teens that while birth control pills are effective against preventing pregnancy, they will not protect them against STDS.
  • Get regular STD screenings and PAP smears to catch any issues early.
  • Get the HPV vaccine early.

Staying on top of your sexual health is vital, and while you’re not in danger of getting the Blue Waffle Disease, it’s still important to be aware of any changes in your vaginal health. And finally, let the Blue Waffle Disease serve as a reminder that no matter how strange you think your health question for your doctor may be, they’ve definitely heard something weirder before — so ask away!