Protect Yourself from TSS; It’s Not a Myth on a Tampon Box
By Izzy Delima
Imagine dying because you had you period. From a tampon. A product that’s supposed to help us, not kill us.
Some of us have been absorbing our menses with internal packing materials for years as what we call tampons. They’re convenient, so why wouldn’t we? They’re almost too good to be true.
What is Toxic Shock Syndrome?
Toxic shock syndrome, also known as TSS, is a serious infection caused by two type of bacteria. Staphylococcus aureus (staph) and Streptococcus pyogenes (strep).
Most cases of TSS are related to staph bacteria. When the syndrome first became first prevalent, TSS was tied to the use of super-absorbent tampons. Research in how tampons could cause a staph infection led to better tampons and more stringent guidelines in how to use them.
Today, about half of TSS cases are tied to menstruation. Other cases come from blood and bone infections, infected wounds, pneumonia, an abscess, or skin infection.
When a tampon is left inserted into the vagina for more than the suggested time, or when there are other stressors on the body, on overgrowth of bacteria can occur.
Bacteria Introduced Through Cuts
If menstruation is just shedding of the uterus, and not blood from an injury, how does a tampon cause an infection? Here’s how that can happen:
We live day-to-day wearing tampons because we think they are easy and less messy -- and they are. We tend to visualize them as we would a paper towel or a sponge soaking up a mess. But what many of us don’t know is that while the tampon is absorbing your menstrual flow, fibers in the tampon can scratch the skin of the vagina, resulting in mini cuts that make it possible for bacteria to be absorbed into the skin.
Once a bacterial infection begins, it can run rampant through the body. And while TSS is very rare, it can happen to any of us. Those who are 15-25 years old are at a higher risk.
Signs and Symptoms of TSS
Indications of TSS develop suddenly and quickly. Sometimes the complication can progress to kidney failure, shock, and death within just 48 hours.
Common Signs that people with Toxic Shock Syndrome experience:
● High fever
● Rapid drop in blood pressure
● Sunburn-like a rash, including on hands and the soles of the feet
● Feeling faint
● Muscles aches
Treatment of suspected shock includes antibiotics and IV fluids, even before a diagnosis is confirmed. Those who are diagnosed usually respond to treatment within a few days, but sometimes people may have to spend several weeks hospitalized, and weeks or months recovering
Avoiding TSS is important. Besides the normal advice for staying healthy and avoiding illness (diet, sleep exercise, etc.), there are things you should do to limit the possibility of TSS:
● Wash hands thoroughly before interesting and removing your tampon
● Change your tampons regularly as directed on the package
● Avoid using more than one tampon
● Switch between tampons, sanitary towels, panty liners during menstruation
● Be sure to use minipads instead of tampons if the flow is light
Do yourself a favor, and protect your vagina.
If you’ve had TSS before avoid using tampons and use an alternative. If you’re not sure where to start check out our starter kits to begin an eco-friendly lifestyle.
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Periods are enough of a consequence, sanitary products shouldn’t be one too.
About the Author
Izzy Delima is a recent graduate from Northern Illinois University. She pursued a degree in Public Health with an emphasis in Healthcare Administration. Izzy has always had a passion for wanting to help others and have the ability to improve their quality of life anyway she can. During her years at NIU she was Director of Public Relations of the organization she was part of who catered to those with visual impairment. She developed campaigns to create awareness for people who lacked knowledge about poor eyesight. This summer she’s bringing focus to proper menstrual hygiene. She’s spending her time researching chemicals and manufactured fabrics of sanitary period products. As a woman, vaginal health has become very important to her since working with uterUS. Her goal is to make it important for everyone else as well. She plans on pursuing a career in the pharmaceutical sales industry where she’ll have the ability to promote some of the best medication to healthcare professionals for patients who need it.