A PHD Student Made Yoghurt From Vaginal Bacteria, Because Science

by Andy Peloquin

vagina yoghurt

There are some pretty weird foods on the planet!

Here are a few of the strange things that people ACTUALLY eat:

  • Escamole, or ant larvae harvested from the agave plant roots in Mexico
  • Bird’s nest soup, made by Chinese using bird saliva nests
  • Rocky Mountain oysters, also known as bull-calf testicles served in the US
  • Lutefisk, made in Scandinavia from lye and fish
  • Haggis, the Scottish meal of sheep lungs, liver, and heart

Yes, the world is filled with weird food and here’s one more item to add to the list…


Making Yoghurt With Vaginal Cultures

A scientist actually made yoghurt using bacterial cultures she took straight from her vagina.

Cecilia Westbrook from the University of Wisconsin-Madison decided that using vaginal bacteria to make yoghurt was actually a good idea. There is a lack of evidence into the potential of vaginal cultures, and so the MD/PhD student thought that it was high time to do some research of her own.

What did she do? Essentially, she dipped a wooden spoon into her vagina and placed it overnight in a bowl of milk. The milk actually curdled, producing a form of yoghurt that a Motherboard reporter stated had a “sour, tangy, and tingy on the tongue” sort of flavor. Yes, a reporter actually ate some of the stuff–even going so far as to add blueberries to the yoghurt. She classified the yogurt as similar in taste to Indian yogurt, rather than Greek or regular yogurt.

Note: The bacteria that are used to make yogurt today are a combination of both Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus. They are in the same bacteria family as the Lactobacilli present in the vagina, but not quite the same.

Rosanne Hertzberger, a Dutch microbiologist who studies at Washington University School of Medicine, took the test one step further. She replicated the experiment back in her lab, using vaginal cultures taken from healthy pregnant women (not using her own).

She discovered eight strains of the Lactobacilli bacteria–similar to the bacteria responsible for curdling milk–present in the vagina, but only ONE of the strains actually curdled the milk. She didn’t taste the yoghurt, but reported that the result came out like “chunky, sour milk, no doubt with a lot of precipitated milk proteins.” Sour, curdled milk, sure, but not yoghurt!


What does this mean for the experiment conducted by Miss Westbrook? According to Hertzberger:

“The conclusion is that the yogurt from Westbrook probably contained a mixture of various kinds of bacteria. Some of which may have been her own vaginal inhabitants, but a number of them may have originated from the wooden spoon, or from the air, or from the kitchen counter, or from underneath her fingernails.”

Now, it must be understood that the experiment, although unusual, could indicate potential in this thread of inquiry. After all, a lot of interest has been generated by probiotic foods (foods containing live bacteria cultures). These foods include:

  • Sauerkraut
  • Kimchi
  • Yogurt
  • Natto
  • Seitan
  • Kefir
  • Kombucha
  • Miso

If yoghurt COULD be made using healthy vaginal cultures, there is a very real possibility that it could be used to treat vaginal bacterial or fungal infections–such as bacterial vaginosis or candida yeast infections.

“By using a woman’s own vaginal microbial flora, the yoghurt produced would be far more effective than what’s at the grocery store today”, explains Larry Forney, a microbiologist at the University of Idaho.

While this discovery certainly won’t produce a food to soon hit the shelves, it does raise some interesting questions regarding what the bacterial cultures present in the vagina could potentially do for human health in general.


[1] https://www.nrc.nl/handelsblad/van/2015/maart/21/uitermate-zuur-papje-1477280