Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS)

In 2012, the American Lauren Wasser, then aged 24, successively lost both of her legs following toxic shock syndrome caused by the use of a tampon. Even if his case is rare, the risk of contracting this infection has prompted consumers of sanitary protection to demand more transparency on the composition of tampons. Every year in France, 20 women are affected by this scourge which can be fatal, but fortunately, 95% of them survive.

What exactly is toxic shock syndrome?

It is an infectious disease caused, in general, by the development of staphylococcus aureus in the body. This bacterium is naturally present in various places in our body, including the vagina in 1% of women.

The presence of the bacteria in itself does not pose a problem. It can cause mild infections of the skin or throat or even, most of the time, give no symptoms.

Complications can occur in immunocompromised people, but also in those who have not developed antibodies capable of neutralizing the action of staphylococcus aureus toxins. If these enter the bloodstream, they cause an acute reaction: toxic shock syndrome.

What is the relationship between TBS and tampons?

When we wear a tampon for several hours, the blood and all that it contains is not evacuated from our body. Women harboring the bacteria in their vagina or having infected their protection then gives it the opportunity to multiply much more than it should.

When a certain concentration of bacteria is reached, they begin to produce TSST-1 toxins, responsible for the syndrome. They pass through the cardiovascular system and attack the whole body.

This is the reason why it is important to wash your hands well before and after inserting a foreign body into our vagina. Bacteria present on the skin could find their way there and develop there.

It is also necessary to take care to change its internal protections, whatever they are, every 4 hours. The less the blood stagnates, the less bacteria can grow. It is therefore strongly recommended to use external sanitary protection at night.

What are the symptoms of TSS?

At first, the symptoms strongly resemble those of a bad flu or gastroenteritis: fever, vomiting, loss of consciousness. Other signs may alert: hypotension, dehydration or rash.

But quickly, the vital organs like the kidneys, the lungs, the liver or the heart let go, one after the other. Medical intervention must take place as soon as possible to avoid death. The faster the treatment, the higher the chances of survival.

What protection to adopt to eliminate all risks

To safely avoid toxic shock, the ideal is to use only external protections. The blood does not stagnate in the vagina and therefore no infection can spread through the body.

Several options are available to you: disposable or washable sanitary napkins or period panties . The latter have the advantage of being free of all chemicals. They are made of healthy fabrics to protect our bodies (but also the planet!) from the toxic residues that can unfortunately be found in most disposable sanitary napkins today...

By Emily