Pharm to Table
April 19th, 2018 – The Internet was whey up in arms when it was revealed on Motherboard that a doctoral student had used her own vaginal secretions to make yogurt.
Cecilia Westbrook, a PhD student from Carnegie Mellon, followed the scientific method with her outside of the box experiment. For thousands of years, cooks have made yogurt through essentially the same formula, introducing the lactobacillus bacteria into a milk culture and then heating it.
Her friend, Janet Jay, wrote on Motherboard:
“Every vagina is home to hundreds of different types of bacteria and organisms…The dominant bacteria is called lactobacillus, which also happens to be what people sometimes use to culture milk, cheese, and yogurt.”
Westbrook used a wooden spoon to collect the bacteria from down there, then followed the scientific method to create a blind taste test. She set up a positive control (made with actual yogurt as the starter culture) and a negative control (plain milk with nothing added), and combined her own home-made ingredient to the third batch of yogurt.
After a night’s fermentation, the vagina yogurt was ready for its big debut. The reviews were largely positive, with Jay reporting that it tasted “sour, tangy, and almost tingly on the tongue.” Westbrook went on to pair the product with a bowl of blueberries.
The vagina yogurt, however, was not ready for mass consumption.
Theresa Eisenman, press officer at the U.S. Federal Drug Administration’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, told VICE that “vaginal secretions are not considered ‘food,’ and they may transmit human disease, a food product that contains vaginal secretions or other bodily fluids is considered adulterated.”
Larry Forney, a microbiologist at the University of Idaho, who for some unknown reason was the expert the women consulted, said, “When you take vaginal secretions, you’re not just taking the lactobacilli. You’re taking everything. It’s a bad idea in general and even though it has some appeal because she’s using bacteria from her own vagina, she could still end up with a bad batch.”
“For what it’s worth, Westbrook said her second batch tasted even more tart, like slightly-spoiled milk—proof that sadly, eating yogurt made from vaginal secretions isn’t quite the same as eating actual pussy.”
Though this experiment proved a little bit about the expanded possibilities of yogurt creation, another perhaps more important mystery was revealed.
“I was actually surprised to know that we really don’t know a lot about vaginal flora.” Westbrook said. “There’s really been only one or maybe two big studies and interestingly, most of the information that we do know about is from white women, which suggests that there might be some indication that people from different ethnic backgrounds might have different flora. I was surprised about how much we didn’t know.”
Despite all the interest, however, Westbrook probably won’t be making this type of yogurt again: “I don’t have a huge agenda,” she said. “It was just a fun thing to try.”
She further noted:
“I guess I’m sad that people are so grossed out by vagina, because people think that semen cookbook is kind of silly, but the tenor of comments here have just been ‘who would even do that’ and ‘why’ and ‘this is terrible’ and ‘that’s just gross.’ And it’s kind of hard not to feel like that’s a little gendered.”
“It’s your own body, and I think that one thing that was really interesting to me was that there are probiotics that people sell to women to balance their flora and all those cultures come from dairy or other sources, but you have bacteria specifically adapted to live in your vagina and no one knows anything about it. People just seem really grossed out by the fact that stuff lives in there. But it’s natural and part of your health. It seems weird to be grossed out about it. It’s weird we don’t know much more about vaginal flora than we do considering how important it is.”
As of press time, neither Jamie Lee Curtis for Activia yogurt, nor Gwyneth Paltrow’s GOOP (jade egg vagina) had neither endorsed nor commented on the experiment.