Is Blue Waffle Really an STD?

Blue Waffles!
Waffles with blueberries, not the dreaded "blue waffle". David Buffington/Getty Images

A few years ago, I got an e-mail from someone asking if something called "blue waffle" was really an STD. At the time, I'd never heard of the condition, and so I ran a web search. I would advise against repeating the experiment or, if you must do so, running your search with images turned off. They weren't pretty.

What the Internet told me was that blue waffle is a sexually transmitted disease that girls get when they have too much sex, and it's called blue waffle because it turns their vulva and vaginal areas blue.

What my follow-up research told me is that blue waffle is a fake condition created to try and police female sexuality. There is no sexually transmitted disease that will turn a woman's vagina blue.

The Myth of Blue Waffle

My theory about how the whole thing started, as I explain in this video, is that someone saw a picture of a woman's vulva after she had used gentian violet to treat a yeast infection. Gentian violet stains skin purple, but it is an effective way of treating both vaginal yeast infections and oral ones. Plus, since it is seen as more natural than other anti-fungal treatments, some people prefer it to the more common medicinal alternatives.

Sex can't turn a woman's vagina blue unless she is having sex with someone covered in blue dye, which I wouldn't recommend as it could potentially cause some significant skin reactions. So why do so many teenagers think that blue waffle is a real thing?

In part, I think it's because it fits in with the common narrative that there's something wrong with a woman having a lot of sex. If "blue waffle" were real, it could be a publicly visible marker that a woman has been with a number of men. It's a way of medicalizing the notion that being sexual makes a woman into something bad - a slut.

It's also a way of warning women off sex by telling them that if they have enough of it, everyone will be able to tell... because their vulva has turned blue.

It's important to note that the discussions of blue waffle almost never imply that the disease can affect men. (If it did, I really think that it would be more widely known as blue twinkie. After all, gonorrhea was known as "the clap" because people thought that clapping the penis between their hands could cure it. We're a very penis focused society.) I suspect that's because being highly sexual isn't a mark of shame for men. It's something that's expected of them, and more, it's something they're supposed to be proud of. If a young guy's penis turned blue after having a lot of sex, I suspect that many guys would use the color for bragging rights.

In summary, blue waffle doesn't exist. It's not an STD.  Your genitals will not turn blue if you have a lot of sex. However, if you do have appearance changes on your genitals, such as bumps or sores, visit a doctor or a clinic.

Such changes could be the sign of a real STD, one that needs to be diagnosed and treated by a professional.

What We Can Learn from Blue Waffle

It's a good idea to look at your genitals occasionally. Doing so is part of being proactive about your sexual health. There's no risk that you'll suddenly find a smurf in your underwear, but you could  find something else. That's true even if you've been practicing safe sex, since barriers are great at reducing STD risk, but they can't entirely protect you from diseases that spread by skin to skin contact.

Next: Want to debunk another STD myth? Learn why it's not true that virgins can't be infected with an STD...

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