What is TSS and can Cups cause it?

Many of us menstrators always have TSS in the back of our minds. Cramps... is it TSS? Light headed... TSS???

It is actually super rare, statistically speaking, I'm talking 1 in a million, rare. But that does not mean it isn't something we should be aware of. Heres what you need to know. 

What is TSS? 

TSS stands for toxic shock syndrome and is a serious disease that can end up being fatal. It it caused by a release of toxins which cause a build up of bacteria called Staphylococcus aureus or more commonly known as staph. This bacteria is super harmful to your body and can spread to your organs. 

Who can be affected by TSS?

Anyone can be at risk from TSS, but studies show that women who use high absorbency tampons are at a higher risk. This is due to the staph bacteria needing an environment where they can rapidly grow to then expel the toxins into the bloodstream. A blood soaked tampon is a supportive environment for this rapid growth. 

Can tampons cause TSS? 

Whilst there is very little research surrounding tampon use and TSS, there are indicators that using tampons can give the bacteria a place to grow, and in turn be released into the bloodstream. This is similar to the type of material tampons are made out of. Studies show that polyester foam tampons provides a better environment for the growth of bacteria than cotton fibre tampons. SO whilst tampons cannot directly cause TSS, they provide an increased risk. 

What are some symptoms of TSS? 

Early symptoms of TSS are quick to appear and can often feel like the flu. 

  • High temperature and chills 
  • joint aches
  • Vomiting, diarrhoea
  • drop in blood pressure
  • Headache 
  • Faintness, dizziness/confusion or weakness
  • Difficulty breathing

Can you catch TSS from someone? 

No, TSS is a bacterial infection so is not contagious or passed on. 

Can Menstrual cups cause TSS? 

No they can't, as cups do not contain fibres and collects rather than absorbs menstrual fluids, there is less chance for that nasty toxic bacteria to be contained within the cup. 

How to reduce risk of TSS? 

  • clean menstrual cup between use and fully sterilise at least once a month
  • wash your hands regularly when handling cup 
  • consider using liners, or underwear when flow is light

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