Afraid it Could be Toxic Shock Syndrome

Published: March 31, 2014
Dear TeenHealthFX,

Hi, sorry to ask this but I'm not sure what else to do. I am currently on my second period and I have been usin libra girl tampons. I change them from between 3-4 hours, never longer. Yesterday I was trying to put another one in but it do not work. With my hands washed (please don't judge me) I used one of my fingers and felt that it was tighter than usual and I was quite dry. I'm not sure why this is and if I have toxic shock syndrome. Please help me I'm scared!


Dear Afraid it Could be Toxic Shock Syndrome,

Since this was only your second experience with menstruation, there is a good possibility that your period had ended and that is why you were dry. It is not clear from your question whether you were successful in removing the tampon. If you were not, then you should go see your health care provider and have her/him remove it. While there your doctor or nurse practitioner can assess the situation to see if there is any cause for concern. 

Toxic shock syndrome (TSS) is a rare but serious medical condition caused by a bacterial infection. This condition is the result of toxins produced by the Staphylococcus aureus bacterium. Staphylococcus Aureus produces a toxin which is absorbed into the bloodstream. The toxin rapidly overwhelms the immune system and attacks the major organs causing serious health issues that can be fatal. Originally TSS was linked to use of highly absorbent tampons or tampons that were not changed frequently. In the last few years TSS has also been linked to the contraceptive sponge and diaphragm birth control methods. 

Symptoms of toxic shock syndrome can vary from person to person. In most cases, symptoms appear suddenly. Common signs of this condition include:

  • a sudden fever
  • low blood pressure
  • headache
  • muscle aches
  • confusion
  • diarrhea
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • rash
  • redness of eyes, mouth, and throat
  • seizures

 If you are experiencing any of these symptoms then you need to seek medical attention immediately. 

Researchers aren’t exactly sure how tampons may cause toxic shock syndrome. Some believe that when superabsorbent tampons are left in place for a long time, the tampons become a breeding ground for bacteria. Others have suggested that the superabsorbent fibers in the tampons can scratch the surface of the vagina which would allow bacteria or their toxins to enter the bloodstream directly. 

If you don't have a doctor and live in northern New Jersey, you can call the Adolescent/Young Adult Center for Health in Morristown 973-971-6475 or the Adolescent/Young Adult Center for Health in Summit at 908-522-5757 for an appointment. Outside this area you can check with your insurance carrier or a local Teen Health Center.

 

Signed: TeenHealthFX

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