Toxic shock syndrome, what you need to know
Between psychosis and unspoken what is it really?
On January 9, 2020, the young Maëlle, 17, died of a toxic shock. She could have been saved if the correct diagnosis had been made. Shocked, Internet users and journalists seized on the subject, which has since flooded the web. And it's chilling. So do we all have to freak out every time we get our period? How can we protect ourselves from toxic shock syndrome and what are the real risks of it happening to us? Here are our answers and our advice to stay calm and well protected. In every sense of the term.
What is toxic shock syndrome?
Toxic shock syndrome - also called menstrual TSS - is a rare infectious disease (there is an average 0.4% risk of contracting it). It is caused by Staphylococcus aureus, a bacterium naturally present in the vagina of 4% of women and which can produce a dangerous toxin, TSST-1. Among these women, only one in ten does not have the antibody to fight it: it is only in this case that an infection can spread through the blood to all of her body, and cause the destruction of some of her organs. , and in extreme cases, his death.
How do you get CTS and what are the symptoms?
STC is a rare disease, but potentially fatal (as in Maëlle's case) or may require amputation (as happened to model Lauren Wasser, who had a leg amputated). These women have in common the wearing of internal hygienic protection, and the presence of staphylococcus aureus in their organism. This can indeed, during the menstrual cycle and when internal protection is worn for too long, get stuck in the vagina without being able to evacuate. If it reaches a high concentration, it will lead to intoxication of the body by the blood.
The main symptoms of toxic shock resemble those of the flu or gastroenteritis: fever, migraine, vomiting and diarrhea. This is why incorrect diagnoses can be made, in particular because of taboos still present on menstruation, even in Western societies.
Tampons responsible for toxic shock?
If they have long been singled out for the chemicals they contain, the tampons themselves would not be the cause of the toxic shocks identified. According to the latest report from ANSES - the national health security agency - it is the stagnation of blood during the wearing of intravaginal protections that favors a culture medium for staphylococcus and can trigger TSS. This therefore also applies to the menstrual cup, unfortunately presented as a less aggressive period protection than the tampon. ANSES is therefore calling on manufacturers to provide clearer information on the risks of toxic shock associated with the use of their protections.
Avoiding toxic shock: adopting good habits
If it is not a question of falling into psychosis, simple gestures can be enough to eliminate the risks of SCT, and quite simply to take care of your intimacy.
If you wish to wear internal protection such as a tampon or menstrual cup, you must:
Always wash your hands before placing your tampon or cup
Place the protection gently: microtrauma causing wounds in the vaginal mucosa can increase the risk of TSS
Change or empty it every 4 hours maximum
Do not wear it at night
Choose tampons with minimum absorbency even in the event of heavy periods : the amount of stagnant blood in the vagina multiplies the risks
Alternate with external protections such as sanitary napkins or menstrual panties
If you have been diagnosed with TSS completely avoid cups and tampons
Free of any chemical substances that can damage your vaginal flora , menstrual panties protect against the risk of TSS. Their cost is quickly amortized when you think of what you can spend on tampons or pads over the year, and then you can wear them longer!