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TSS: Are You at Risk?

Most of the women I know use tampons when they have their periods. They're discreet, easy to use, and make things like swimming, exercising, and sleeping so much more comfortable. Once a month, I raise my bar of chocolate in thanks to the marvelous inventor of tampons.

If you use tampons regularly, you've got to be aware of your risk of TSS (Toxic Shock Syndrome). This condition is rare, but since it is life threatening, you should know the facts.

TSS is caused by the bacterium Streptococcus pyogenes (group A strep) or Staphylococcus aureus (staph). These bacteria are common and cause conditions such as strep throat or impetigo. Rarely these toxins enter the bloodstream and can cause TSS.

Some researchers believe that keeping high absorbency tampons inside you for a long time can put you at risk because they become a breeding ground for the bacteria. Others suggest that tampons can stick to the skin inside of your vagina, and when you pull it out, the skin can tear or get scratched allowing the bacteria to enter the bloodstream. If that happens, it can cause a sharp drop in blood pressure, depriving vital organs of oxygen, which could lead to death.

Want to know what you can do to reduce your risk? Then

  • Don't use tampons at all.
  • If that's not an option, be sure to change your tampon frequently, at least every four to six hours.
  • Use the the lowest absorbency that you need. The higher the absorbency, the greater the risk.
  • Consider alternating between pads and tampons, and use pads when your flow is really light.
  • If you use a diaphragm, don't leave it in more than 24 hours.
  • If you use a cervical cap, don't leave it in more than 48 hours.


Join The Conversation
mlmoreno47 mlmoreno47 9 years
JEEZ TAMMA! I never thought of that! Scary!
Tamma1387 Tamma1387 9 years
A friend of mine in high school accidentally cut herself with a plastic applicator while putting a tampon in. she got tss and it nearly killed her. she can't ever use a tampon again. i still use them, just not the ones with plastic applicators.
Seraphim Seraphim 9 years
hey fit, I've heard a rumor that manufacturers put extra things in tampons that make you bleed for a longer period of time. Basically so that you use more of the product which increases their revenue. I was wondering if you could find out more about this...?
Spectra Spectra 9 years
I use tampons and I love em, so not using them isn't an option. But I change them religiously and I use the lightest absorbency I can (I'm a light bleeder anyway). I've never really thought about getting TSS, but thanks for the heads up.
mjcook mjcook 9 years
who got grossed out when they read that a tampon can get stuck and when pulled out can rip the tissue of your va-jay jay? NASTY! I swear, it sounds like an urban legand to me.
UrbanBohemian UrbanBohemian 9 years
I was a pad person up until college and since using tampons full-time I haven't looked back. But I notice that I develop a slight sore throat around the first two days of my period, and I wear tampons all the time until it tapers off towards the end.
gladjenta gladjenta 9 years
i had also heard of TSS but never knew how/why it occurred. thank you!
blondewithbangs blondewithbangs 9 years
Tampons are so convienent! they outweight the risk of TSS greatly. As long as you chnage them freqently and use the lowest absorbancy possible its not really an issue.
Soniabonya Soniabonya 9 years
Use tampons all the time. I learned about TSS at a young age but the convience and comfort of a tampon over the pad outweighs the risks. And the risks are lowered when you know how to avoid them, which I do.
Poulette Poulette 9 years
I have used a mooncup for the past 2 years and I love it! I would never go back to tampns or pads!
AucuneRancune AucuneRancune 9 years
Ugh - this bums me out. I haven't worn a pad since I was about 15... to me, it just feels nasty. (no offense to pad users)
any any 9 years
i only use tampons when im on the beach... not too much
jmast jmast 9 years
I only use them for a heavy flow. But I use Seventh Generation brand since they are chlorine free. :)
nancita nancita 9 years
I have always heard about TSS but never understood WHY tampons put you at risk. Thanks for filling me in.
ayanaphil ayanaphil 9 years
I use them all the time, but I just feel like you should change it more than just every 4-6 hours. If you really want to be careful, that's what you should be doing.
Arielrb38 Arielrb38 9 years
My sister got me sea pearls last year and I LOVE them ( website says that they "may reduce the causes of toxic shock syndrome" I also like them because they don't contain dioxin, nor are they bleached. If you touch them they are soft, and when I think about it I would much rather put something soft than something dry and rough inside of me (have you ever rubbed your finger along the side of a tampon?) It's not always reasonable to clean/ rinse sea sponges (public restroom/ work) and even if you have a spare, depending on your comfort level you might not want to put the soiled sponge in a baggy to clean at home later, so lots of women still carry a tampon or two for their really heavy days. Still, I love the sea sponges... and they save money in the long term as well.
moonischasingme1 moonischasingme1 9 years
I use a divacup.
SummerBaby SummerBaby 9 years
i only use them if im going out.. but for going to work and such.. i dont bother mines way to light ne ways.. and i go pee like a million times per day when its that time of them month!.. soo they are only used for outings and swimming and what not... i use to never go ne where without them.. n then i was like hummmmm.... your sooo light that it doesn't serve to much of a purpose.. sooo bye bye your only there when I NEED YOU!! hehe
Martini-Rossi Martini-Rossi 9 years
Never used one, never will.
workofiction workofiction 9 years
This may come out wrong but, I drive a car and have a risk of getting into a car accident, I use tampons and have a risk of TSS. I'll take my chances for modern conveniences.
Lovely_1 Lovely_1 9 years
That doesn't sound too good at all. Just have to be careful I guess!
kiddylnd kiddylnd 9 years
I just recently found out that ANYONE can get TSS, and it's not solely from using tampons. This sort of freaked me out, even though I use them. It's like, well...I can get it if I do, and I can get it if I don't. BOO! :mob: "Although TSS usually occurs in menstruating women, it can affect anyone who has any type of staph infection, including pneumonia, abscess, skin or wound infection, a blood infection called septicemia, or a bone infection called osteomyelitis."
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