Toxic Shock Syndrome with Tampons | Do Tampons Cause TSS?

toxic shock syndrome with tampons

Women often aren’t aware that they may be putting themselves at risk for serious health complications by incorrectly using tampons. You shouldn’t wash or reuse them because they’re not safe.

In recent years, toxic shock syndrome (TSS) has become a major public health concern due to its increasing number of reported cases, especially among young girls and teenagers.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 2002 and 2016, nearly 2 million TSS cases were reported, and around 40 deaths occurred. The majority of these incidents involved hospitalizations and required intensive care unit treatment. Although TSS was initially thought to affect only menstruating females who had recently given birth, recent studies show that other groups at risk include nonpregnant and postpartum women, menopausal women, and those who regularly wear tampons.

In this article, we will examine Toxic Shock Syndrome in all its details and take a look at the relationship between Toxic Shock Syndrome with Tampons.

Contents of Article:


  1. #1 What is Toxic Shock Syndrome?
  2. #2 What Causes Toxic Shock Syndrome?
  3. #3 Who is At Risk for TSS (Toxic Shock Syndrome)?
  4. #4 TSS – Toxic Shock Syndrome and Tampons: What Should You Know?
  5. #5 Toxic Shock Syndrome with Tampons
  6. #6 Can Sanitary Pads Cause Toxic Shock Syndrome?
  7. #7 How Long Does It Take to Get Toxic Shock From a Tampon?
  8. #8 Tampon Safety Tips
  9. #9 How Is Toxic Shock Syndrome Diagnosed?
  10. #10 Can Toxic Shock Syndrome Be Prevented?
  11. #11 When to See a Doctor?
  12. #12 Conclusion

#1 What is Toxic Shock Syndrome?

Toxic Shock Syndrome is a potentially fatal complication of a bacterial skin or wound infections, especially if they’re caused by staph bacteria. Bacterial vaginosis is caused by changes to the vaginal flora, which often occurs when there isn’t enough acidity in the environment for good bacteria to survive. When the pH level drops below 4.5, certain types of harmful bacteria begin to grow instead. These bacteria cause bad odor and irritation, and increase the risk of sexually transmitted diseases.

Toxic Shock Syndrome first emerged as a health risk for young girls in the late 1970s, when otherwise healthy young girls in several US cities were found to be developing an illness similar to bacterial meningitis but without any known cause.

From 1980 through 2010, there were 6 to 30 cases of TSS per one hundred thousand women aged nineteen to forty four years old. That number has dropped significantly since the early 2000s, likely due to changes made in tampons including reduced fluid absorption, stricter warnings, and heightened awareness. With that being said, the current rate of toxic shock syndrome among young adults (in women aged between 19 and 44) is close to one case per 100 000 people.

#2 What Causes Toxic Shock Syndrome?

The following types of bacteria commonly result in TSS:

  1. Staphylococcus aureus,
  2. Streptococcus pyogenes,
  3. Clostridium sordellii.

TSS infections were initially discovered in the mid/late 1970s and early 1980’s, when highly absorbent (thickened) sanitary napkins were popular among menstruating females. Because of changes in manufacturing methods, the incidence of tampoon-induced Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) has been declining since the mid 1990s.

Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) is most commonly seen in young people and older adults. Also, you may be at increased risks if you are diabetic, have a weakened immune system, have chronic lung disease, or have heart disease.

A bacteria called Staphylococcus Aureus (aureus) is usually found on people’s bodies but doesn’t usually lead to an infection Most people become immune to common infections because they’ve developed antibodies against them. Aureus can cause infection by direct skin to skin contacts with an infected person, but not by indirect means. Most people who get tss don’t produce antibodies For S.aureus. Therefore, it isn’t usually considered a contagious disease. Aureus infections may occur when bacteria enter the body through cuts, burns, or surgical sites. Bacteria can invade the blood if any of the body’s skin surfaces are infected.

Streptococcus Pyogenes the TSS may occur as a secondary complication. Commonly, this is seen in individuals who have just recovered from chicken pox, bacterial cellulitis (skin infection) or who have weakened immune systems.

Usually living inside the vaginal canal, C.Sordellii doesn’t normally cause infections. The bacteria can enter the woman’s body through her vagina during normal menstrual cycles, labor/childbirth, or gynecological procedures such as an abortion.


#3 Who is At Risk for TSS (Toxic Shock Syndrome)?

Toxic shock syndrome (TSS), also known as menstrual toxic shock syndrome, occurs more often among women who use super-absorbent feminine hygiene products such as tampons and panty liners. TSS is caused by certain strains of bacteria that grow best in warm temperatures and moist environments.

When used correctly, tampons and pads help keep vaginal secretions clean and dry. However, improper handling of the product, including reuse of disposable items, may cause bacterial growth.

This can lead to infections of the vagina, cervix, uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries, bladder, rectum, lungs, blood vessels, kidneys, liver, brain, eyes, ears, muscles, joints, bones, heart, nerves, skin, and/or breasts. Symptoms include fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, abdominal pain, dizziness, confusion, seizures, muscle weakness, and difficulty breathing. In severe cases, patients may develop sepsis, kidney failure, cardiovascular collapse, coma, and even death.


#4 TSS – Toxic Shock Syndrome and Tampons: What Should You Know?

TSS is rare and is often caused by exposure to a toxin released from certain types of bacterial infections. Bacteria produce toxins which can result in severe problems including kidney disease, cardiac arrest, liver failure, shock, and even sudden deaths.

There has been a significant decline in rates of tampon-associated TSS (toxic shock syndrome) over the last few decades. One reason for this is that the FDA examines whether a tampons enhances the growth of the bacterium that cause Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) before they can be legally marketed. Only menstrual pads approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) can be legally sold in the United States. Furthermore, more informative packaging, as well as educational campaigns from the FDA and manufacturers, appear to have reduced the incidence of tampon-associated toxic shock syndrome.


#5 Toxic Shock Syndrome with Tampons

Some experts don’t know why using tampons occasionally causes an leads to the condition. Many people believe that a tampon placed inside the body for several days attracts harmful microbes. It could be that some tampons scratch the inside of the vagina, making an entry point for bacteria into your bloodstream.

Over the years, tampons have changed a lot, but there isn’t any evidence that one particular kind of tampon or tampon applicator causes Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS). If you’re bothered by one brand of menstrual pad or tampons scratching or irritating your vagina, you might want to switch to another brand.

TSS isn’t considered a rare condition anymore, but its incidence has decreased dramatically over recent years. There have been nearly 14 reported instances of Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) among 100,000 young women using high absorbent tampons between 1980 and 1995. These day it’s really decreased. For example, out of 100,000 women who are menstruating, there may be two or less men­struating women.


#6 Can Sanitary Pads Cause Toxic Shock Syndrome?

Yes, you could still get TSS even if you don’t use tampons. This is because bacteria causes the condition not the tampons.


#7 How Long Does It Take to Get Toxic Shock From a Tampon?

When you insert a tampon into your vagina, it absorbs fluid and expands. After about 8-12 hrs, the absorbent material inside the tampon becomes saturated. During this process, the tampon can release small amounts of toxic chemicals. These chemicals irritate the vaginal lining and cause an infection called Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS). You may not experience any symptoms right away, but they could show up later. Symptoms include fever, diarrhea, vomiting, headache, dizziness, muscle aches, neck stiffness, rash, and swollen glands. Some women develop these symptoms within 24-48 hrs after inserting a new tampon. Other women may develop them weeks or months after insertion.

On the other hand, you should also consider that there is no clear time for the onset of TSS symptoms after using tampons. If you don’t remove the tampons from your vagina eight hours afterwards, you increase the risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS). Of course, this does not mean that every tampon held for more than eight hours will cause TSS, but prolonged tampon use increases the risk of developing TSS as it increases the production of harmful bacteria.


#8 Tampon Safety Tips

If you’re using tampons, pay attention to these things:

  1. Follow all directions. Even if you’ve previously worn a tampon, read the package thoroughly.
  2. Washing your hand(s) before and/or after inserting a tampons helps prevent the spread of bacteria from one place to another.
  3. Use a tampon only during your menstrual flow cycle. Tampons are meant to be used during menstrual periods and no other time.
  4. Change tampons at least once every four to eight hour period. Never use a single tampon for longer than eight consecutive periods.
  5. Try using a one-tampon supply for eight hours before needing to change it. If you don’t need to change it after 8 hours, then the absorbency might be too high.
  6. To avoid Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS), use the lowest absorbency pad/tampons needed, don’t use them for longer than eight hours, and use pads/tamps only if you’re having your period.


#9 How Is Toxic Shock Syndrome Diagnosed?

Toxic shock syndrome, or TSS, occurs most often in women during menstruation. It causes fever, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle pain, headache, confusion, and low blood pressure. A rash appears within 24 hours. Doctors usually diagnose it based on symptoms alone.

Doctors suspect TSS when patients present with fever, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, rash, and/or vaginal discharge. They look for signs of organ damage, including low blood pressure, kidney failure, fluid build up in the lungs, and abnormal heart rhythms.

They usually treat TSS with IV fluids and antibiotics. But sometimes it takes several days to figure out whether a patient really does have TSS. Doctors often try to diagnose TSS based on clinical findings alone, without testing for the bacteria. So they rely on their experience treating similar cases, and they don’t always ask about previous infections.

To confirm a diagnosis, doctors typically take a swab of material from the likely site of infection — the skin, nose, throat, or genitals — to check for the presence of staphylococcal enterotoxin B (SEB). This toxin causes the symptoms of TSS. In some cases, doctors also collect and test a blood sample to determine whether the body is producing antibodies against SEB.


#10 Can Toxic Shock Syndrome Be Prevented?

Cleaning is the most important precaution for TSS, which is not known to be the direct cause of tampons, but is thought to be related to the further mixing of bacteria into the blood due to the irritation caused by tampons in the vagina.

In addition, you can protect yourself by taking the following precautions:

  1. Cleaning your skin well and frequently can help lower your risk of developing infections caused by harmful germs (such as staphylococcus aureus).
  2. During their menstrual cycles, women can lower their risk of TSS (tamponade) by:
  3. Washing their hand well before and after inserting tampons
  4. Not using tampons or alterna­tively switching back and forth between tampons and sanitary pads
  5. If using tampon inserts, choose low absorbent tampon inserts – avoid those that might not be able to contain enough fluid for heavy menstruations. Also, replace them frequently.
  6. On low-flow days, use pads instead of tampon applicators.
  7. You should keep tampons out of direct sunlight, humidity, and the presence of water — for example, in a bedroom instead of a bathroom closet.
  8. If a woman has experienced “Tampon Sores” (also called Toxic Shock Syndrome), she shouldn’t wear tampons
  9. If there are any open cuts on your body, clean them off immediately. Bandage them up so they don’t get infected If any part of a bite or scratch becomes red, swollen, or painful (or fever starts), contact your doctor right away.


#11 When to See a Doctor?

A lot of TSS symptoms are often misdiagnosed and treated incorrectly. For example, fever, pain, or sore throat could be easily mistaken for the common cold.

That’s why it is so important to be aware of TSS and what causes it. If you suffer from any of the above symptoms after using sanitary pads or if you’ve had an operation or skin injury, see a medical professional right away.


#12 Conclusion

I hope that none of us will ever have to experience health problems like this. With Toxic Shock Syndrome, a lot of information is circulating about tampons and usually people are quite worried about it.

Please do not panic, observe the symptoms mentioned in the article and consult a doctor quickly.

If you want to read more health advice, check out my category: Hot Girl Wellness

I wish you healthy days.

FINAL: If you want to get summary information with video, I can recommend you the animation prepared by Tiny Medicine.