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What is Blue Waffle Disease: Is it an STD?

Promoting STD awareness has become a primary focus of schools, nonprofit organizations, and public health organizations during the past few decades. While these efforts have generally been successful, misconceptions about contracting and preventing sexually transmitted diseases still exist.

The misconceptions regarding sexual health are often the result of people deliberately spreading false information. The fictitious blue waffle disease is a prime example of the general public’s susceptibility to misinformation spread through internet memes.

What is the so-called blue waffle disease? Read on as we discuss the origins of blue waffle disease, how people can contract it (according to urban legend), and real STDs that might resemble this fake condition.

If you think you might have an STD, be sure to get in touch with Rapid STD Testing to schedule same-day STD testing and seek medical advice.

Origins of the Blue Waffle Disease Hoax

Floating around the internet for over a decade, “blue waffle disease” is a fictitious STD supposedly resulting from the bacterial growth in an infected woman’s vagina. The supposed symptoms of blue waffle disease included vaginal inflammation, unbearable itching or burning, and red rashes surrounding the infected area. The internet folklore declared that the genital area and vulva also turn blue and release an odorous liquid, worsening the symptoms.

Blue waffle disease is a fake condition that online pranksters invented in 2010 as a hoax, and they derived the name from the slang term for vagina. People who conducted online research to determine if blue waffle disease is real found a graphic and likely manipulated image of infected labia with a blue color.

According to the online sources that falsely reported the existence of blue waffle disease, no treatments were available to alleviate this condition. However, taking multivitamin supplements, antibiotics, or tea tree oil could help. Eating yogurt containing probiotics and lactobacillus acidophilus bacteria were also said to help to fight the disease.

The seemingly realistic photo and information contributed significantly to the hoax’s believability. In 2013, a New Jersey councilwoman who fell victim to the hoax announced that the disease had claimed 85 women. 

In 2017, during a presentation for Annals of Internal Medicine, Anita Ravi, MD, MPH, debunked this fictitious illness. Dr. Amy Whitaker, an OB/GYN and assistant professor at the University of Chicago, also confirmed that the condition doesn’t exist.

Here at Rapid STD Testing, we recommend seeking early treatment for real STIs. If you suspect that you have an STD, contact us today to schedule a rapid STD test.

How Do You Get Blue Waffle Disease?

While it is true that blue waffle disease doesn’t exist, you shouldn’t disregard the similarities between this fictitious condition and real STDs. Many of the factors increasing the risk for the fictional blue waffle disease, such as unprotected sex, can cause the transmission of real STDs.

According to the hoax, you could get blue waffle disease by having unprotected sexual intercourse. The risk factors for contracting blue waffle disease reportedly included:

  •       Having intercourse while you have open scratches, cuts, and other vaginal wounds
  •       Maintaining a sexually active lifestyle with multiple sex partners
  •       Failing to maintain proper genital hygiene

According to the hoax, women who failed to change their sanitary pads or underwear regularly had a high susceptibility to the bacteria that caused blue waffle disease. Additionally, failing to clean the genitals regularly and properly could create a favorable environment for bacterial growth.

Other risk factors for blue waffle disease included unsafe anal or oral sex practices and sharing sex toys with other people.

While the blue condition was fictive, the factors associated with the hoax disease are very real factors that can increase your risk for contracting genuine sexually transmitted diseases, such as bacterial vaginosis (BV), chlamydia, genital herpes, and HIV.

Over time, however, some common misconceptions regarding sexually transmitted diseases also started applying to the fictional blue waffle disease.

Some misinformation reported that you could contract blue waffle disease by using a public restroom. Fortunately, this is a myth as far as the transmission of real STDs is concerned. A sexually transmitted disease only spreads via person-to-person contact.

The following myths regarding blue waffle disease are also myths when it comes to real STDs as well:

  •       Myth 1: Oral sex limits your risk of an infection
  •       Myth 2: A condom offers complete protection against an STD infection
  •       Myth 3: STDs always go away on their own
  •       Myth 4: A person with an STD always exhibits signs or symptoms

Taking STD tests is the only way to know if you have an infection—a real one, that is. At Rapid STD Testing, we offer a 10-panel STD test package as a baseline evaluation for infections. No, we do not test for blue waffle disease.

Is Blue Waffle Disease a Real STD?

No, blue waffle disease is not a real STD, and no infectious process or health condition exists that causes the vagina to turn blue.

According to Know Your Meme, Blue Waffle was a bait-and-switch shock website that went online in 2008. The site features the close-up and graphic image of an infected vagina we mentioned above. The bait component of the site was a picture of a blue Belgian waffle with the caption “Bet you can’t find me on Google Image search.”

The idea was for people to search for a blue waffle and stumble upon the graphic image. According to Google Trends, users started searching the term “blue waffle” in November 2009, and blue waffle disease became an urban legend during 2010.

People who didn’t encounter the blue waffle image learned about the fictitious disease via social media and other online platforms, and large-scale panic ensued. To this day, people stumbling upon the meme or image online often believe the condition to be real. Fortunately, a quick online search is usually sufficient to put their fears at rest. Because blue waffle disease is fake, this condition has no medical term or actual name.

The non-existence of blue waffle disease is not a reason to throw caution to the wind, however. STD transmissions remain a common occurrence, especially among people who have unprotected sexual intercourse with multiple partners. 

At Rapid STD Testing, we can provide an STD test for men and women. If you are experiencing side effects or your partner tested positive for an STD, get in touch with us to schedule a test.

Real STDs Often Mistaken for Blue Waffle Disease

Chlamydia

Chlamydia is a common sexually transmitted disease affecting men and women. This infection can spread between partners during vaginal, anal, and oral sex. Wearing a latex condom during intercourse is the most effective way to prevent transmission.

In many cases, chlamydia doesn’t present any symptoms. However, symptoms can take a few weeks to appear and may result in medical complications. In severe cases, chlamydia can affect the female reproductive system and even cause infertility, reducing the chances of pregnancy.

Other vaginal symptoms of chlamydia infected females may experience include:

  •       An abnormal discharge
  •       A burning sensation when urinating
  •       Abdominal pain
  •       Pain during sex
  •       Bleeding between periods or after sexual intercourse

In men, chlamydia can affect the penis or testes, with symptoms that include:

  •       A burning sensation when urinating
  •       A cloudy discharge from the penis
  •       Testicle pain or swelling

If left untreated, chlamydia can cause swelling in the epididymis, causing infertility.

In some cases, chlamydia in men and women can spread to the rectum, causing rectal pain, discharge, or bleeding. If you notice any of the above symptoms, schedule rapid STD testing as soon as possible so you can seek early treatment if necessary.

Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea is an STD and infection of the Neisseria gonorrhoeae bacteria. These bacteria flourish in warm and moist areas of the body, including the vagina, anus, urethra, and female reproductive tract. In some cases, gonorrhea may also target the eyes and throat.

Gonorrhea generally passes between people during unprotected vaginal, anal, and oral sex. Wearing a latex condom and abstinence are the most effective forms of preventing transmission.

The symptoms of gonorrhea typically present within two weeks after exposure, with some asymptomatic carriers never exhibiting any symptoms. Note that even with no symptoms, you can still infect someone else.

In men, common symptoms of gonorrhea include:

  •       Pain or a burning sensation during urination
  •       A pus-like discharge from the penis
  •       Swelling or redness around the penis glans
  •       Pain or swelling of one or both of the testicles
  •       A chronically sore throat

In women, the symptoms of gonorrhea are generally similar to bacterial infections, which is why many patients often mistake this condition for “blue waffle disease.” Common gonorrhea symptoms in women include:

  •       A watery or creamy discharge from the vagina
  •       The need to urinate more frequently
  •       Pain or a burning sensation when urinating
  •       Sharp and sudden pains in the lower abdomen
  •       Pain during vaginal sex
  •       A sore throat or fever

If you test positive for gonorrhea, early treatment is critical to prevent long-term complications affecting the uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tube.

Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a human papillomavirus (HPV) infection is one of the most common STIs. This virus has over 100 variants, and most sexually active people will get an HPV infection, even if they don’t have multiple sexual partners.

The HPV transmission methods depend on the variety in question, but most variants spread through skin-to-skin contact, vaginal, anal, and oral sex. In other words, sexual contact isn’t a requirement for transmission. A mother can also transmit HPV to her baby during delivery.

Like most other STDs, you can transmit HPV to another person even if you have no symptoms. In around 90% of cases, HPV infections last up to two years before going away on their own. In 10% of cases, an HPV infection can cause several health issues, including:

  •       The formation of warts on the genitals and in the throat
  •       Cancer of the cervix, genitals, neck, and throat

Whether an HPV infection can cause cancer or warts depend on the variant. Late-onset cancer symptoms are common and highly problematic, which is why early testing and diagnosis are critical.

Herpes

The herpes simplex virus infection causes herpes, affecting various parts of the body, with the mouth and genitals being the most common. The two types of herpes simplex virus are:

  •       HSV-1: This variant primarily affects the mouth and commonly causes fever blisters and cold sores
  •       HSV-2: A herpes simplex virus that targets the genitals, causing STDs such as genital herpes outbreaks

The herpes simplex virus can affect people from all walks of life and spreads through direct person-to-person contact. You can contract the HSV-1 virus by sharing an infected person’s eating utensils or Chapstick. Kissing can also result in an HSV-1 transmission.

An HSV-2 transmission generally occurs during sexual contact. According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, around 20% of sexually active adults in the United States have an HSV-2 infection.

You can transmit the herpes simplex virus if you have no symptoms. However, the risk of transmission increases significantly during an outbreak.

The most common Herpes symptoms include:

  •       Blistering sores or itching in the affected area
  •       Pain during urination
  •       Headaches
  •       Fatigue and a lack of appetite
  •       Lymph node swelling

In some cases, HSV can spread to the eyes, causing herpes keratitis. Symptoms of this condition include eye pain and discomfort.

No cure for herpes exists, and your healthcare provider will likely recommend a treatment to alleviate symptoms.

Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)

Bacterial vaginosis is a vaginal infection that is often due to a shift in the balance of vaginal bacteria. Lactobacillus bacteria keep your vagina at the correct acidity level. However, when a drop in Lactobacillus levels occurs, it makes your vagina and reproductive tract alkalic and susceptible to the growth of harmful bacteria.

The incidence of bacterial vaginosis is higher in women who:

  •       Consume tobacco products
  •       Are sexually active
  •       Use scented soaps, vaginal deodorants, and bubble bath

BV usually doesn’t cause severe health concerns, but it can be problematic if you are a woman who is pregnant or trying to get pregnant. Common BV symptoms include

  •       A burning sensation or pain during urination
  •       Itching in the affected area
  •       An unpleasant odor that intensifies after sexual intercourse
  •       A white or grey discharge

If you notice any of the above symptoms, get an STD test to determine if you need treatment.

Blue Waffle Disease Info: Preventing Misinformation Regarding This Fake STD

Accurate and timely information is the public’s first line of defense against sexually transmitted diseases. Knowing how to prevent the transmission of STDs goes a long way toward maintaining a healthy and complication-free lifestyle.

In the event of a transmission, you need to identify the symptoms as soon as they occur to know which STDs to get tested for and to seek adequate medical treatment.

Spreading misinformation online may seem like an effective way to escape boredom. However, a person who deliberately perpetuates fabrications, such as the existence of blue waffle disease, may ultimately cost people their health and quality of life.

Thanks to medical professionals who intervened, the correct information about blue waffle disease is available. However, even though the condition doesn’t exist, the need for due diligence remains. The memes and misinformation still circulate online and are nearly impossible to eradicate.

Conjuring a new STD out of thin air may seem like a way to keep people on their toes. In reality, spreading fake information trivializes the severity of actual conditions and desensitizes the public to the very real dangers of STDs.

When encountering medical information that appears to be out of the ordinary or sensational, don’t accept and share it as the truth. Consult with your doctor or fact-check the information yourself using an authority source online.

If you experience symptoms resembling those of blue waffle disease, don’t shrug them off. Seek immediate medical treatment since you may have a real STD.

Visit an STD testing center near you

We’ve reached the end of our guide on the fictitious blue waffle disease. This condition doesn’t exist, but the symptoms may indicate an underlying and potentially severe real health issue. If you suspect that you have an STI, call Rapid STD Testing to order a test or visit one of our STD testing centers near you.