Healthy New Jersey

Periods (menstruation)

Toxic shock syndrome

Toxic shock syndrome (TSS) could be a potentially life-threatening condition caused by certain strains of bacteria, most commonly Staphylococcus aureus (Staph) or Streptococcus pyogenes (Strep). Affecting both men and women, it is often associated with women who use tampons.


TSS can be caused by the release of toxins from bacteria growing in the body. Factors that may increase the risk of TSS include:

  • Using super-absorbent tampons
  • Leaving tampons in for an extended period
  • Using high-absorbency menstrual cups
  • Skin wounds or burns
  • Recent surgery
  • Certain types of bacterial infections


The symptoms of TSS can vary but often include:

  • Sudden high fever
  • Low blood pressure
  • Rash resembling a sunburn
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Muscle aches
  • Confusion
  • Seizures
  • Organ dysfunction


To reduce the risk of TSS:

  • Use the lowest absorbency tampon necessary and change it frequently (at least every 4-6 hours).
  • Alternate between tampons and sanitary pads during your period.
  • Consider using menstrual cups or other menstrual products with lower risk.
  • Wash your hands before and after inserting or removing tampons.
  • Follow proper wound care techniques to prevent infections.


Immediate medical attention is crucial, if TSS is suspected.

Treatment typically involves hospitalization, where antibiotics are administered to fight the bacterial infection. Other interventions may be required to stabilize blood pressure and support organ function.


  • TSS is rare, especially if you use tampons safely. Change them every 4-6 hours.
  • Seek medical help immediately if you experience symptoms associated with TSS.

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