Ignoring the Risk of TSS Could Cost You Your Health

by Elizabeth Ollero

Model Lauren Wasser is suing Kotex after losing her leg to TSS (Toxic Shock Syndrome). Tampons have had warnings that tampon use could lead to TSS since the 1980s, but the design and makeup of tampons hasn’t changed to reduce this risk. Basically, tampon companies have slapped on the TSS warning and ran away from liability—thanks, guys!

TSS occurs when there is staphylococcus aureus bacteria (staph) that grow rapidly and release poison in the bloodstream. While TSS isn’t limited to women who use tampons, their usage has been connected to fifty percent of TSS cases.

Staph is a common, harmless bacteria in the vagina. However, using a tampon provides the perfect conditions for TSS to develop: It’s saturated with blood, which supports the growth of staph, and the use of tampons can cause tiny tears in the vagina giving poisons direct access to the bloodstream. What the tampon is made of, however, is the real problem. Certain materials, such as polyester foam, provide better environments for the bacteria to grow. Others, like cotton fibers, don’t. If we know this, though, why aren’t more tampon companies changing what they’re working with to better protect Aunt Flow’s crew?

Wasser is suing Kotex so that tampon companies have to make clearer the risks of TSS that come with using their product. There are women and girls using tampons that aren’t aware of this potentially fatal risk. Sure, it’d be nice to make it more obvious that I’m sticking a wad of something in my vag to block me up that may or may not kill me, but why can’t we find a better solution? Or at least tell me which poon plugs are less likely to kill me?

Representative Carolyn Maloney has been trying to do this for years – since 1997! She started with the Tampon Safety and Research Act, “to provide for research to determine the extent to which the presence of dioxin, synthetic fibers, and other additives in tampons and similar products used by women with respect to menstruation pose any risks to the health of women,” which includes TSS. It was shot down (shocking, right?). After Robin Danielson died a victim of tampon-induced TSS, the bill was renamed the Robin Danielson Act, but it still hasn’t been passed.

It is now 2015, and women are still dying and suffering from TSS. Tampons haven’t changed in twenty years, and most women don’t even know what is in the tampons they’re using to cork their crotch. If you bleed every month, used to, are going to, wish you did, or glad you don’t, sign this petition to help pass the Robin Danielson Act, and protect women from their menses mops.

Read more at BUST.com:

It’s #JustATampon: Take a Selfie With Your Tampon to End the Period Stigma

How Three Young Feminists Are Helping Homeless Women Access Period Supplies

The Period Party of Your Dreams

Images via Vagabomb, Amazon

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