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Access to free sanitary provision

Toxic Shock Syndrome

Tampons are associated with Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS). TSS is a rare but very serious illness that can develop rapidly in anyone. But don’t worry – across the whole of the UK, there are only about 20 cases reported each year that are associated with people using tampons. TSS is so rare that most doctors will not come across TSS during their medical careers. Further information on TSS is available on the NHS website.

Symptoms of TSS include:

  • a sudden high fever usually over 39C
  • vomiting
  • diarrhoea
  • muscle aches
  • a sun burn like rash
  • sore throat
  • dizziness and/or fainting
  • severe flu-like feeling

Not all symptoms of TSS may occur simultaneously. 

In the unlikely event that symptoms of TSS occur, remove the tampon, consult with a doctor urgently and inform them that a tampon has been used. If left untreated, TSS can be fatal. The following actions will help reduce the very small risk of TSS occurring. 

  • At night, insert a fresh tampon before going to sleep and replace first thing in the morning. Change your tampon every 4 to 8 hours or more often if needed.
  • Think about switching between tampons and towels, pads/liners from time to time during your period.
  • Only use tampons during menstruation, use only one tampon at any time, and ensure the removal of the last tampon once menstruation has finished.

To help the environment, remember to dispose of tampons, applicator tubes and wrappers in a waste bin. Please do not flush tampons, applicator tubes or wrappers down the toilet.