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Toxic Shock Syndrome: all you need to know

In recent years, the term "toxic shock" has been used in the media and the scientific press. But what does it really mean? What is the risk? We will tell you more.

On June 11, 2020 we learned that a 36-year-old woman had had her legs and part of her hands amputated due to toxic shock caused by a "menstrual cup" made of silicone. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated case.

More and more women are suffering from toxic shock after using a tampon, silicone cup or sanitary napkins.


Toxic Shock Syndrome: What is it?

As reported by the Lyon University Hospital and the National Reference Centre for Staphylococci, toxic shock is caused by a staphylococcal bacterium that can occur during menstruation when using intimate hygiene products such as tampons, menstrual cups or sanitary napkins.

"This syndrome generally occurs in young, healthy patients who are carriers of the S. aureus bacterium that produces TSST-1 in the vagina", the hospital states. 

This disease can lead to complications, and thus very serious amputations.

However, the hospital confides that this syndrome is very rare, "but that its increase worries the scientists." 


What does this have to do with intimate hygiene products?

Toxic shock syndrome develops mainly due to the chemicals in tampons, menstrual cups and sanitary napkins. Not only that. This syndrome can occur if you keep a tampon in your vagina for too long.

The presence of blood in the vagina for too long is therefore a favorable environment for the development of a staphylococcus, as stated by the ANSES in 2018 (National Agency for Health, Food, Environment and Work Safety in France).  

In addition, it is recommended that this type of protection should not be used at night. The reason? There is a tendency to keep these protections longer during these times and the risk of developing a staphylococcus increases considerably.


What are the symptoms of toxic shock?

The symptoms of a potential toxic shock that should alert you are:

  • Skin rashes
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • A flu-like condition that includes aches and pains


What are the alternatives?

In order to prevent this syndrome from affecting more women, it is strongly recommended to limit the use of sanitary napkins, menstrual cups or tampons. But then what are the safe alternatives? 

New options for women include bamboo fiber period underwear and reusable sanitary pads. These alternatives will allow you to protect yourself safely and effectively during your menstrual cycle.

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