Meet Léona, who contracted TSS during a trip to Australia in 2017. The cause: wearing a tampon.
From her first symptoms to the management of her disease, she explains how her views on intimate hygiene, her menstrual cycle and her periods have changed radically since this event.
Leona, what symptoms did you have when you contracted toxic shock syndrome?
"While each case is unique, the main symptoms I've experienced are migraines, malaise and stomach aches to the point of unconsciousness."
ANSE and the gynecologists we interviewed explain that the symptoms of toxic shock syndrome are often likened to those of stomach flu.
Leona, in your opinion, is the only way to contract TSS the wearing of a tampon?
"The gynecologist m'said that wearing a tampon, a cup or practicing free instinctive flow amounts to the same thing. In fact, one of the causes of TSS is the fact that blood stagnates in your body and encourages the growth of bacteria. Also, I never wore my tampons for more than three hours! And Laura Wasser, the model who had both her legs amputated due to toxic shock, also never wore her tampon for more than three hours.."
At the time of her misadventure, Léona learned that Toxic Shock Syndrome can be contracted by wearing a tampon, but also by wearing a menstrual cup.
Tampons, on the other hand, irritate the mucous membranes of the vagina, allowing bacteria to enter the bloodstream more quickly.
In addition, Toxic Shock Syndrome is not only linked to periods, it can also occur after infection of a wound, since it is linked to Staphylococcus aureus.
What hygiene measures have you applied since then?
"Since that experience, I've taken a long, hard look at my relationship with my body and my personal hygiene. In fact, women who have already experienced toxic shock are carriers of staphylococcus aureus and know that putting a tampon or cup in again is a huge risk to take. The gynecologist I consulted in Australia mgave me a direct warning: no more tampons, and no more cups either. Blood must never stagnate in my vagina. Free instinctive flow is therefore not an option for me either."
Forced to wear sanitary pads for several years, which she hated the feeling of wetness and the discomfort they caused, Léona finally switched to Elia Lingerie panties at the end of 2019. She then rediscovered the comfort of protection without the sensation of wetness, 100% natural and without risk to her health.
Can all women contract TSS?
Approximately 30% of healthy people are permanently infected with staphylococcus aureus in their bodies, 50% intermittently and 20% are never carriers of this bacterium.
Apart from the 20% of women who do not carry this staphylococcus, the remaining 80% are likely to contract it. For this vast majority, wearing a tampon or cup represents a small but very serious risk of contracting TSS.