Is Blue Waffle Really an STD?

Internet hoax portrays female sexuality as unhealthy

Waffle with blueberries
Marianna Massey / Getty Images

Blue waffle disease is an internet hoax started in 2010 which described a fictitious sexually transmitted disease (STD) that was meant to turn a girl's vagina blue. It made national headlines when the prank was cited by a New Jersey councilperson as a new and imminent threat to a woman's health.

The fact that the prank sowed such panic and public discontent illustrates how easily misinformation can be spread, jeopardizing not only a woman's peace of mind but her understanding about the nature and risks of real STDs.

How the Hoax Started

The blue waffle disease myth started as a bait-and-switch meme (meaning one that gives users something that they did not expect, usually for humorous purposes). In this case, the aim was entirely malicious.

Posting an image of a blue-colored waffle, the prankster challenged users with the text "bet you can't find me on Google image search." Those who took the bait were shocked to find a photograph of a blue-tinted, apparently diseased labia.

The name was lifted from the slang term "waffle," meaning vagina. The disease, which the prankster claimed was sexually transmitted, was said to cause vaginal lesions, itching, burning, and a smelly discharge—namely all of the symptoms one might expect from common STDs like syphilis, herpes, gonorrhea, or chlamydia. The assertions that blue waffle disease could turn your vagina blue are simply false.

Unfortunately, medical evidence to the contrary did little to quell the rising panic on social media. Some people even claimed that blue waffle disease could eventually turn a woman's body blue if left unchecked.

While the news media and public health authorities did their part to set the record straight, the myth picked up steam in 2013 when New Jersey councilperson Kathy MacBride was taken in by the ruse.

Since then, the hoax has reared its head repeatedly as a new generation of adolescents and teens happen upon the meme and share it with their friends.

Intent and Consequences

While it is possible that the image of the blue vagina was doctored, it is more likely that it was a photo of a vagina onto which gentian violet was applied to treat a yeast infection. (Gentian violet stains the skin purple and is a natural way to treat mild vaginal and oral yeast infections.)

The fact that so many people fell for the hoax reflects a pervasive narrative that continues to plague the social commentary: that sexually active women are "abnormal" and will ultimately reap the consequences of their sexual behavior. After all, blue waffle disease was an STD that affects only women, not men.

Ultimately, the meme was an attempt to medicalize the notion that being sexual makes a woman bad. Its intent was to warn women off sex and warn men off women who "sleep around." If it were not, we would have seen images of a blue penis, as well.

Ironically, boys and men will often brag about having "blue balls" if they are frustrated for not having enough sex. The underlying narrative here is that men are meant to have sex—and lots of it—or suffer the consequences of "blue balls."

It is a reflection of a culture that still measures a man's worth by his sexuality and attacks and degrades a woman for her's.

A Word From Verywell

In short, blue waffle disease does not exist. It is not an STD, and your genitals will not turn blue if you have a lot of sex.

However, if you do notice changes on your genitals, such as bumps, sores, or discharge, see your doctor, a woman's health clinic, or a free STD clinic. Symptoms like these could very well suggest an STD in need of real treatment.

To avoid STDs, always practice safer sex, including limiting the number of sex partners. In the end, there is absolutely wrong or abnormal about having a healthy sex life. Just be sure to protect yourself by making good choices and using condoms consistently.

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Article Sources

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