What is Toxic Shock Syndrome?

What is Toxic Shock Syndrome

By Cinthiya Sugumar

The Issue

First and foremost, TSS is a rare but serious condition caused by bacteria entering the body and releasing dangerous toxins into our systems. Without early intervention, TSS can become fatal or cause severe harm to the body. Contrary to popular belief, TSS can actually occur in men, women, and children in any age bracket. However, one of the main perpetrators of TSS is a tampon kept in the body for prolonged periods of time. Although tampons are recommended for about 6 hours at a time, symptoms of TSS typically appear after the 24-48 hour mark. 

According to The National Organization for Rare Disorders, Toxic Shock Syndrome in relation to tampon usage occurs in about 1 in 100,000 menstruating individuals. Fortunately, this statistic is continuing to decrease with advancements in tampon material, absorbance, and more explicit labels. 


Symptoms of TSS can be flu-like with high temperatures, diarrhea, and headaches. It can also be present as dizziness, fainting, and confusion. In some situations, those who do have TSS are taken to the hospital to be treated with antibiotics and fluids, with more serious interventions like dialysis and surgery only used in highly progressed cases. 

Here are some myths that you might have heard over the years:

1. You will definitely contract TSS if you leave a tampon in for too long

2. TSS is only caused by tampons and periods.

3. Tampons are dangerous!

All in all, TSS sounds scary and lethal, but it is very rare and can be easily avoided. Simple measures such as changing tampons regularly, washing your hands regularly, and staying consistent with your menstrual routine makes all the difference.