If tampons remain in your body for more than 8 hours, there’s a risk of toxic shock syndrome, or TSS, a rare bacterial infection from which women have died. It can be avoided by following a few simple rules.
A British student forgot to take out a tampon she had inserted nine days before. She attributed her increasing symptoms to pre-exam stress. What she didn’t know was that the forgotten tampon had triggered a potentially lethal form of blood poisoning caused by staphylococcus or streptococcus bacteria.. When she removed the tampon it was entirely black. Soon afterwards she developed typical toxic shock symptoms. Her skin was mottled and she became faint. Doctors in the intensive care unit managed to save her life with various antibiotics. If the tampon had remained in her body for just another hour, she would have died.
How can such life-threatening situations occur? In most cases, toxic shock syndrome, or TSS, occurs in women using tampons during menstruation. When they’re inserted or removed they may scratch the mucus membranes of the vagina, allowing toxins enter the bloodstream. Because tampons absorb blood from inside the body, they can also become a breeding ground for bacteria, especially if left in for a long period of time.
Even though every tampon package contains an instruction leaflet warning of the risk of TTS, many woman don’t know about it. There are a few simple rules for avoiding an infection. Wash your hands thoroughly before and after inserting a tampon. Only use tampons in their original packaging, don’t buy them in extra-large sizes simply for convenience, and change them at least every eight hours to prevent the growth of bacteria.