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Does Blue Waffle Disease Exist? What Gynecologists Say

Back in 2010, an image started circulating around the internet of labia that were blue-tinted, swollen, covered in lesions, and leaking pus. “Blue waffle disease” was said to be a sexually transmitted infection. Blue waffle’s reported symptoms were bruising, lesions, and swelling, and it allegedly turned the labia blue. While very disturbing, the image and its accompanying illness are completely fake.

Where did the “blue waffle” come from? “Waffle” is a slang term for vagina, and “blue” comes from the supposed blue color shown in the image. “Blue waffle” is also slang for a severe vaginal infection. 

Just as disturbing as the fake illness itself were the derogatory messages that circulated on the internet at the same time. Blue waffle disease was said to affect women only, and only their vaginas. It was also purported to spread only from women to men — mainly from women with multiple sexual partners, poor hygiene, or both. 

Blue waffle disease is not real. It has been roundly dismissed as a fake illness, rooted in part in society’s tendency to vilify and degrade women.

Doctors have stated there is no such thing as blue waffle disease, and medical professionals agree that the image has been digitally altered. Even though a bluish tint might appear after a forceful encounter such as sexual assault, the bright blue seen in the picture is neither possible nor remotely realistic. Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) do not cause bruising as seen in the photo.

A blue waffle STI has never been reported or discussed in any known medical website or publication, and numerous doctors have debunked its existence. 

Even though lesions, burning, and swelling could be signs of an STI or a condition such as vaginal thrush, the photo shows signs that are far more extreme-looking than they would be in real life. 

There are a number of STIs that have symptoms similar to those of the fake blue waffle disease. If you have any of these symptoms, it’s important to see your doctor, who can run the appropriate tests and treat you if necessary. 

Chlamydia is a common and potentially serious sexually transmitted disease that can affect anyone. If left untreated, it can cause permanent damage to the female reproductive system, making pregnancy difficult or impossible. 

Chlamydia is passed between partners during vaginal, anal, or oral sex. Although the only absolutely guaranteed way to avoid chlamydia is abstinence, using a latex condom every time you have sex can help reduce your chances of contracting chlamydia.

Symptoms of chlamydia include:

  • Painful, burning urination
  • Abnormal vaginal discharge
  • Discharge from the penis
  • Swelling or pain in one or both testicles (less common)

If you are infected with chlamydia in the anal region, you may experience bleeding, discharge, or rectal pain. 

Anyone who is sexually active can contract gonorrhea. Gonorrhea is most commonly spread during vaginal, oral, or anal sex, and can infect the urethra, throat, and rectum. Gonorrhea can also infect the cervix.

Many people who have gonorrhea will show no symptoms, but if left untreated, it can cause serious complications such as infertility and infections that affect other parts of your body, such as the joints. 

Gonorrhea commonly causes these symptoms:

  • Pain when urinating
  • Pain while having sex
  • Pain in the abdominal or pelvic region
  • Increased vaginal discharge
  • Bleeding between periods, including after sexual intercourse
  • Pain or swelling in one testicle
  • Pus-like discharge from the penis

Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is the most common vaginal infection in people between the ages of 15 and 44. Although it is not clear what causes BV or how it’s spread, it does occur mainly among people who are sexually active. There is a relationship between developing BV and an imbalance of good versus harmful bacteria in the vaginal area. Douching, new sex partners, or multiple sex partners can throw off the balance, creating an environment where BV can develop. 

Although many people with BV show no symptoms, the most commonly seen symptoms include:

  • A strong, fish-like odor, particularly after sex
  • Burning while urinating
  • Itching in or around the outside of the vagina
  • Burning or pain in the vagina
  • Vaginal discharge that is thin and gray or white 

One of the most common of all STIs, HPV has more than 200 types, according to the National Cancer Institute. 

HPV is passed through skin-to-skin contact and can affect the genitals, rectum, throat, and mouth. Some of the strains cause genital warts, and others can cause certain cancers of the cervix, rectum, throat, or mouth. 

If you contract a form of HPV that causes genital warts, you will notice small clusters of whitish bumps in and around the vaginal opening. They may appear flat or raised, have a cauliflower-like appearance, and can range in size. Genital warts are different from genital herpes. 

Most HPV infections go away on their own. However, if you notice bumps or unusual discharge, you should see your doctor to receive the right diagnosis and treatment, if necessary.  

Although genital herpes is another common STI, it’s possible to get a genital herpes infection without realizing you’ve contracted the disease. Many cases show few or no signs. At the same time, herpes viruses have no cure, so it’s important to know the symptoms and track how your body responds to the virus if you have it.

The herpes simplex virus (HSV) has two main types: HSV-1 and HSV-2. Both can be spread through sexual contact. 

Although up to 90 percent of people will show no signs of a herpes infection, those who do may notice symptoms that include:

  • Flu-like symptoms such as body aches and fever (especially during the very first outbreak)
  • Small, painful, itchy red bumps or white blisters in the vaginal area or penis and foreskin
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the groin area 

The most reliable way to prevent STIs is to abstain from sex. However, given that this is often unrealistic and impractical, the second-best form of protection is to use condoms. 

External condoms, internal condoms, and dental dams can all help reduce the chances of contracting an STI. Although they don’t eliminate the chances entirely, they do offer the best available protection and ideally should be used during every sexual encounter. 

Another way to prevent STIs is to be mindful of your partner’s sexual health. Ask your partner to get tested for STIs, perhaps along with you, before beginning a sexual relationship. If you notice that your partner shows signs of an infection, including abnormal discharge, lesions, or sores, don’t have sex.

Separating fact from fiction is essential to becoming fully educated. Although blue waffle disease is just a hoax, STIs like gonorrhea and chlamydia are real. If you are sexually active, it’s important to get a yearly gynecological exam, where you can get tested for STIs including HIV. If you ever notice symptoms of an STI, such as unusual discharge, swelling, or sores, see your doctor. They can help identify the cause and any needed treatment.  

https://www.cdc.gov/std/bv/stdfact-bacterial-vaginosis.htm

https://www.cdc.gov/std/chlamydia/stdfact-chlamydia.htm

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK525769/

https://www.cdc.gov/std/hpv/stdfact-hpv.htm

https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/infectious-agents/hpv-and-cancer

https://www.fda.gov/consumers/women/hpv-human-papillomavirus

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/gonorrhea/symptoms-causes/syc-20351774

https://www.cdc.gov/std/default.htm

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