The Truth About Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) and Tampons

The Truth About Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) and Tampons

Whether you use tampons or not, you’ve likely heard of toxic shock syndrome. Did you know that it can affect anyone, regardless of tampon usage?

What is it?

Toxic shock syndrome is a rare (and sometimes life-threatening) condition caused by a bacterial infection. It often results from Staphylococcus aureus (staph) bacteria, but may also be caused by streptococcus (strep) bacteria.

Who Does it Effect?

This syndrome can affect anyone, not just women using tampons! This includes men, children and postmenopausal women.


  • High fever
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Confusion and headaches
  • Muscle aches
  • Rash (usually on your palms and soles)
  • Redness of your eyes, mouth and throat
  • Seizures

Risk Factors

  • A recent surgery
  • Having a viral infection like the flu
  • Using super-absorbent tampons, contraceptive sponges or diaphragms

What about Tampons?

In the past, toxic shock syndrome was associated primarily with the use of tampons. However, manufacturers have ended the usage of certain types of tampons (super absorbent), and the occurrence of this condition in menstruating women has sharply declined. And this is not just about organic tampons. In fact, “There is no medical or scientific evidence to suggest that organic tampons or all-natural tampons are better than leading brand products or that organic tampons make people safer from developing TSS.”

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