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blue waffle disease

Blue Waffle Disease - Is Blue Waffle a Real STD?

 

About Blue Waffle Disease 

Back in 2010, a picture showing a scabbed, blue-tinted labia, that was seemingly infected, took the internet by storm. The graphic photo was claimed to be that of a vagina infected by an STD known as the ‘blue waffle disease’. 

Further, it went on to make news headlines when a New Jersey councilwoman was made fun of for announcing that the disease had claimed 85 lives and that it was to be seen as a threat to women’s health. She even discussed measures that should be taken to fight this fictional disease.

In reality, there is absolutely nothing called the blue waffle disease and it was a prank that was started by internet pranksters. This is, however, a testimony to how fast misinformation actually spreads on the internet. And, how important it is that we receive proper sex education in order to be aware of real diseases that do exist.

So, how did the blue waffle disease rumour begin?

The rumour began when a few pranksters started circulating a picture of a blue-coloured waffle on social media, challenging people with a text that claimed it impossible to find the waffle on Google search. Those who took the bait and actually searched ‘blue waffle’ on Google were greeted with a picture of a blue-tinted and apparently infected labia. The name originated from the slang ‘waffle’ used to denote a vagina.

In fact, some people even started claiming that if the disease was left untreated, it could potentially turn the entire body of a person blue. The disease was even claimed to cause symptoms like:

  • Vaginal sores or lesions
  • Itching
  • A burning sensation
  • A strong-smelling vaginal discharge

These are all, however, symptoms of real STDs that affect women, minus the fact that the vagina becomes blue in colour. While many believe that the image was made using photo editing software, others say that it is possibly a picture of a labia that was stained with gentian violet, a blue antiseptic dye that is sometimes used in the treatment of yeast infections.

Even though the disease was debunked as a myth by prominent doctors and medical professionals, social media remained in panic mode for quite a long time, with gullible netizens still falling for the hoax to this day.

But are there any STDs that show similar symptoms to the fictitious disease?

Even though the blue waffle disease is a fictitious STI, there are real sexually transmitted infections that cause similar symptoms in women and these include:

  • Chlamydia - Spread through vaginal, anal or oral sex, chlamydia is a common STD that can cause serious fertility issues if left untreated. Many people do not show any symptoms, but for the ones that do, they can take several weeks to appear. Chlamydia can cause abnormal vaginal discharge, burning sensation while urinating, redness and swelling in the genitalia and painful sex that is sometimes accompanied by bleeding.
  • Gonorrhoea - The vagina, rectum or throat can be affected by gonorrhoea and it is an STD that causes symptoms like painful urination that burns, increased vaginal discharge, lower abdominal pain, spotting, etc.
  • Trichomoniasis - Caused by a tiny one-celled parasite, trichomoniasis is a common STD that mainly affects women and rarely show symptoms. But for people who do have symptoms, they may include greenish or yellowish vaginal discharge that smells bad, itching or burning in the genitals, painful urination, bleeding after sex, etc.
  • Genital herpes - Caused by the herpes simplex virus of either type (HSV-1 or HSV-2), genital herpes is an STD that can never be fully cured. Most people do not show symptoms, but these can include small red bumps in the genitals or mouth, white blisters, ulcers and scabs, pain, itching, fever and body aches. Even though it can never be fully cured, the symptoms can be managed with medication.

The true importance of sex education in schools

The fact that the blue waffle disease gained such traction is proof of the fact that our population needs more sexual health awareness in the form of proper, guided sex education. Schools in our country either have a very rudimentary form of sex education or don’t feature any.

In the absence of a comprehensive sex education curriculum, young people especially take it upon themselves to learn from the internet. While there’s no harm in studying online, you don’t always have the means to verify a certain piece of information you come across and sadly, the internet is full of false information.

Along with the basics of sex, it is very important to learn about sexually transmitted diseases and safe sex practices, including the process and importance of getting tested for STIs. Unwanted pregnancy is not the only consequence of sex that one should be aware of because it also comes with emotional and physical effects on a person and all of this needs to be taught under a proper sex education curriculum.

When should you get tested for STDs?

It is important to understand that most of the time, STDs don’t show any symptoms but that does not make it okay because symptoms can flare up anytime or you may transfer it to your partner, who can end up with symptoms.

If you suspect that you can be at risk of having contracted an STI, you should consult a doctor and schedule a test because it’s the only way you can be sure. Your doctor will consider your age, sexual activity and status of pregnancy, along with any symptoms you may have, to determine when and which tests you require.

Prevention is better than cure

Ultimately, prevention is always better than cure and in this way, only barrier contraceptives like male and female condoms can safeguard you against STDs. Birth control pills and other hormonal contraceptives can protect you from unwanted pregnancy, but will not hold against STDs.

It is especially important if you have multiple sexual partners as your chances of contracting an STD go significantly up as compared to being in a monogamous relationship where both parties are free from any infection.

And, if you used protection and are still not sure if it worked, you should get tested as early as possible to improve your chances of making a speedy recovery.

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