Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) is a rare disease caused by bacteria entering the bloodstream. TSS is sometimes called "tampon disease" because women who use tampons have gotten the disease in rare cases. But men and children can also get TSS. As long as you clean the menstrual cup after use, and don't leave it in for more than 12 hours, there is no increased risk of TSS.
Toxic Shock Syndrome and the body
TSS is caused by yellow staphylococcus bacteria that produce a toxin, a poison. These bacteria can multiply if they come into prolonged contact with menstrual blood or blood in an open wound. TSS is rarely related to menstruation; it is more commonly caused by a skin infection, such as a wound infection after surgery or, in rare cases, by sinusitis.
TSS involves a large and rapid drop in blood pressure, which results in the body's tissues not getting enough oxygen and the body going into shock. Such shock requires intensive treatment in hospital with fluids and antibiotics.
Many people carry staphylococcus without becoming ill. The bacteria can be found in areas such as the nose, groin and armpit. The bacteria are spread through direct contact between two people or indirectly through objects. The condition itself and having TSS are not contagious.
Toxic Shock Syndrome and the menstrual cup
It cannot be excluded that in very rare cases, menstrual cups can cause TSS. Many people associate TSS with using a tampon longer than recommended, hence the name tampon disease. The period cup has been on the market for a long time and has very rarely been linked as a direct cause of TSS. However, there are a few cases where a menstrual cup has been reported in association with TSS. It is therefore important to follow the recommendations to not use the period cup for more than 12 hours without removing, emptying and cleaning it, and to be careful about hand hygiene. Always wash the menstrual cup with soap and water after use. It is when bacteria that produce toxins (poisons) come into contact with the bloodstream that can cause the disease TSS. If you follow the recommendations, the risk of getting TSS from a period cup is low.
How to avoid Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) with a period cup
- Have good hand hygiene before removing and inserting the menstrual cup.
- Wash the menstrual cup thoroughly with both soap and water
- Empty the period cup continuously and do not leave it in place for more than 12 hours.
- Do not use vaginal products if you have had problems with TSS in the past.
Symptoms of Toxic Shock Syndrome
If you suspect that you have TSS, and you have a high fever and one or more of the following symptoms, you should seek immediate medical care:
Skin rash (similar to sunburn)
Diarrhoea and vomiting
Swollen palms and soles of the feet
Redness of the eyes and mouth
Headache and muscle pain
- Dizziness and cold sweats