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Feminine hygiene products are like symbols that women’s period cycle are now acknowledged by society. Long ago, when it was still the dawn of civilization, beliefs about menstruation are seen as unclean, and talking about it is taboo. 

Menstruating women were seen as a stigma from the perspective of the society, because of this, menstrual products were out of the mainstream. However, 1896 came, and little by little feminine hygiene products like the first disposable pad hit the market.

Who would have thought that in today’s era, the once shunned feminine hygiene products are now creating a multi-billion market worldwide? Not to mention, companies that market the said hygiene products are still developing the items’ innovation to provide better service and make women more comfortable.

However, it is undeniable that there have been some issues through time with menstrual hygiene products’ history. The most unforgettable problem is the one that is associated with TSS or elaborately known as the Toxic Shock Syndrome disease, which happened years ago.

Are you curious to know what are the things that possibly link feminine hygiene products like tampons, sanitary pads, and menstrual cup to TSS are? Surely it would not hurt to know more, agree? So, buckle up, and let’s start the discussion.

What is TSS?

Toxic Shock Syndrome, or TSS for short, is widely known as a bacterial infection. It is widely seen as a scary disease by women since it is a potentially life-threatening illness. However, contrary to women’s anxiety towards the grave sickness, it is considered rare.

The bacteria that causes this sickness is called Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pyogenes. When the bacteria present in one’s vagina have increased rapidly and has formed, then TSS is created. 

All menstruating women can have TSS due to the menstrual blood that flows out of one’s vagina. Additionally, it is thought to be associated with tampon use ever since the incident happened during the 1980s, wherein a mass TSS infection occurred due to the usage of superabsorbent tampons, which then was wiped out from the market immediately after the incident.

What are Tampons?

Tampons are probably the closest thing to menstrual cups since both use the method of insertion into a woman’s vaginal walls to prevent blood leaking. Now, tampons are described as little plugs that are made out of cotton or rayon that is used to soak up the period blood.

Additionally, the tampons sometimes come with an applicator (for women who are new to this type of product) to make the insertion more comfortable. You may have seen the tampons with a string attached to the end—its purpose is to make the pull out more accessible. 

What’s the Relationship of Tampons with TSS?

As discussed beforehand, it was due to the once marketed superabsorbent tampons that were sold off during the 1980s that the toxic shock syndrome came to light. 

When tampons are left unattended for 8-12 hours inside a woman’s vagina, it might eventually cause TSS since the bacteria have found a habitable place to overgrow.

With this said, tampons increase the risk of toxic shock syndrome due to its materials. There is a chemical that resides within the tampon’s content, namely dioxin, which exposes the vagina to various diseases. 

Also, tampons’ residue may stick to the vaginal walls, and with this, it may cause tiny abrasions during removal. Now, tampons’ dioxin is at a minimum, but experts still want women to exercise caution since it may accumulate over time.

What About Sanitary Pads?

Sanitary pads are shaped like women’s underwear base so that they will be able to stick if used. There are various types of sanitary pads wherein some have “wings” that are folded to the side of your underwear to protect against possible leaks.

The said pads are also created out of cotton and rayon, just like with tampons. However, it is primarily made out of cellulose gel to absorb blood. With this said, just like tampons, the materials risks a woman with TSS. 

Additionally, cellulose gel that is part of the sanitary pads’ material may cause cervical or ovarian cancer. That is why it is recommended that you do not leave your pads unattended and change every 3-4 hours.

So, What About Menstrual Cups?

Briefly speaking, menstrual cups are funnel-like shaped feminine hygiene product which collects the blood instead of absorbing it. Thus, the materials of a menstrual cup are not of cotton or rayon. It is made from rubber or medical-grade silicon, which is considered to be hypoallergenic. 

Menstrual cups have various types, from shapes like v-shaped and bell-shaped cups to sizes like small daisy cup or regular-sized cups to cater to women with different cervix heights.

So, for its relation with TSS, as far as the professionals have studied since the said item is not made from cotton or rayon, and dioxin is non-existent, the risk is a lot lesser compared to the products mentioned above. 

However, professionals still advise women to be cautious even though the risk was lessened. The menstrual cup still collects blood and is in touch with vaginal walls. Thus, it is recommended that you do not leave your cup unattended after 12 hours.


What we can get from the discussion above is that we are always at risk for TSS. You may use a menstrual cup, but if you overlook and neglect it, then you might as well be asking to have the said infection.

Thus, the best prevention is to use the best feminine hygiene product, which lessens the risk and make it safer by learning how to follow the instructions habitually. Thus, at the end of the day, the most important thing that you should consider is how you take good care of yourself and how keen you are when it comes to your hygiene and health.