I Started Using Tampons But I'm Worried About Toxic Shock Syndrome
Photo by Polina Zimmerman from Pexels

I Started Using Tampons But I’m Worried About Toxic Shock Syndrome — said every other woman! I know many women and girls who start using tampons have many questions and reservations. I get it — something going up your vulva unless it’s you know what sounds scary! And one thing that’s come up every time someone wants to start using tampons is Toxic Shock Syndrome. The fact that so many of you already know about this is really impressive and means that now we are taking charge of our health! Okay, first things first — Toxic Shock Syndrome is rare. Yes, so the chances of you getting it just because you use tampons are probably one in a million. In fact, very few women have actually experienced it in real life. But many know about it — and they’re scared of it. TSS is very real — no argument about that — but how worried should you be?

What is Toxic Shock Syndrome

TSS occurs when the body responds to toxins produced by two strains of bacteria: Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pyogenes. The biggest misconception about TSS is that it’s caused by tampons, but that’s simply not true. TSS is not caused by tampons, it’s simply linked to tampons—remember: correlation does not mean causation.

Simply being exposed to these bacteria isn’t enough to develop TSS, because Staph and Strep usually already inhabit different parts of your body, including your throat, nostrils, vagina and rectum. They are harmless unless they multiply very quickly, at which point they produce a toxin (unimaginatively) called Toxic Shock Syndrome Toxin (TSST).

If TSST enters your bloodstream, it can be fatal!

Tampons and TSS

The theory is, that when left inside your vagina for too long, tampons create the perfect breeding ground for Staph bacteria to flourish and take over. Make no mistake, though, this is true for any device that is inserted in the vagina, and left there for a prolonged period of time. In fact, menstrual cups and barrier methods of contraception like caps and diaphragms are not risk-free, and have also been linked to TSS.

So to prevent the occurrence of Toxic Shock Syndrome. make sure to change tampons and anything else inserted in your vagina regularly and up to 4-6 hours depending on your flow.

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