How do you get toxic shock syndrome?

Comment attrape t'on le syndrome du choc toxique ?

Today, we're talking about a rare but very serious disease: Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS). In this article, you'll find the definition of TSS, as well as the story of Léona, who contracted the disease during a trip to Australia.

What is toxic shock syndrome, also known as TSS?

TSS is a very rare but serious infection caused by the proliferation and release of bacteria into the bloodstream. According to reports received by the Centre National de Référence des Staphylocoques, fewer than 20 women a year are affected by TSS. These include users of tampons and menstrual cups.

Toxic shock syndrome is caused by Staphylococcus Aureus bacteria, which produce toxins that trigger inflammation. In response, the body mass-produces immune cells that can cause shock. The body then concentrates its efforts on the vital organs, neglecting the extremities (legs, arms, etc.).

Toxic shock syndrome (TSS) was brought to light in 2012 by the American Lauren Wasser, who had her right leg amputated after contracting TSS. In the early 1980s, over 700 women in North America fell victim to Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS). The news doesn't stop there: in January 2020, a 17-year-old Belgian woman died after contracting the disease as a result of a misdiagnosis.

Why is Toxic Shock Syndrome contracted from tampons and cups?

The vaginal mucosa that keeps a tampon in for too long is more fragile. It is more prone to irritation, which can lead to lesions that facilitate the passage of staphylococci or toxins into the body..

  • For staphylococcus aureus to develop toxins, it needs a favorable culture medium: this is where the relationship with tampons and cups comes in.
  • If the tampon is kept too long, or if its absorption capacity is too high, the blood remains in the body at room temperature (36/37°).
  • It stagnates and greatly encourages the development of bacteria...

Our advice

Don't use tampons, but use external sanitary protection such as our Elia menstrual panties.

If you use tampons or cups:

  • Don't use tampons if you don't need them - forbidden outside your period. Use an Elia panty to protect yourself against leaks or for reassurance.
  • Use tampons with very low absorbency and change them regularly. You can wear your Elia panties if you're afraid of leaks.
  • Replace tampons every 4 to 6 hours / The same goes for the cup, disinfecting/sterilizing it as much as possible!
  • We advise against wearing tampons or cups overnight.
  • Wash your hands before handling any tampon or cup.

Symptoms of toxic shock:

If you start to feel ill, talk to your doctor and tell him or her that you think you may have TSS. Some symptoms to consider: Sudden fever (38.9°C or higher), vomiting, sore throat, diarrhea, rash (redness), severe muscle pain, dizziness, fainting spells

Find out more :

Sources :

Léona's experience

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The information contained in the articles on is general information only. Although reviewed by health professionals, this information is not error-free, does not constitute health advice or consultation, and is not intended to provide a diagnosis or suggest a course of treatment. Under no circumstances may this information be used as a substitute for medical advice or consultation with a healthcare professional. If you have any questions, please consult your doctor.