Understanding Toxic Shock Syndrome: A Critical Health Concern for Women - Seeker's Thoughts

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Understanding Toxic Shock Syndrome: A Critical Health Concern for Women


The average woman uses about 10,000 sanitary products during her lifetime. Researchers and women are giving serious consideration to their menstrual management method. 

Women from all over the world mostly use tampons than a sanitary napkin for hygiene and cleanliness. Despite of that there are millions of women facing different types of diseases and infection related to periods. A study found there are several types of vaginal infections can cause by using tampons

Tampons: tampons, which have been around since the 1930s, are the most popular choice of women who are younger than 41.  According to a study, women often choose tampons are also offered in various sizes and levels of absorbency. It is recommended that women change tampons at least every four to eight hours, using the least absorbent type to manage menstrual flow.

Using tampons are not recommended in between periods, there is some evidence that women who use tampons may have an increased risk of urinary tract infections. Superabsorbent tampons one the crucial cause of outbreak of toxin syndrome in 1980s, and still effecting women's health globally. 

What is toxic shock syndrome?

Toxic shock syndrome is a sudden, potentially fatal condition. It caused by the release of poisonous substances from an overgrowth of bacteria called staphylococcus aureus, or staph, which is found in many women’s bodies. 
Toxic Shock Syndrome affects menstruating women, especially those who use super-absorbent tampons. The body responds with a sharp drop in blood pressure that deprives organs and can lead to death.

Currently several women are suffering from toxic syndromes though the outbreak of toxic shock syndrome made headlines in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

However, there is no denying that the disease has also been linked to the use of menstrual sponges, diaphragms, cervical caps.  

More than a third of all cases of toxic shock involve women under 19, and up to 30% of women who have lived the disease would get it again
People who die from toxic shock are killed by the body’s response to the poisons released by staphylococcus bacteria. Most people suffer hypotensive shock, in which the heart and lungs stop working.
Symptoms while menstruating and have high fever with vomiting, especially when a woman have been using tampons, menstrual sponge or cervical cap.

Interesting fact about staphylococcus

Staphylococcus aureus is normally and harmlessly present in the Vagina. How Staphylococcus aureus causes toxic shock syndrome is not understood. But two condition are necessary:

1-      The bacteria need an environment in which they can grow rapidly and release poisons. Then the poisons must get into the bloodstream.

2-     A tampon saturated with blood is supportive place for rapid growth of bacteria. It also seems to matter what the tampons is mode of polyester foam provides a better environment for the growth of bacteria that either cotton or rayon fibre.

Shocking fact about women in menstruation 

In India, some women use soil and ash to soak up periods. In some rural areas in India, some women don’t have the money to buy themselves sanitary pads or even clean piece of cloth to soak up their periods. Because of not getting sanitary pad women get severe vaginal and urinal infections and, in some cases, they even die.

Social Stigmas against women-Women are considered impure when they are in periods

In most cases they could not get proper treatment because menstruating women considered impure in religious and  patriarchal mentality. They are not allowed to talk about periods in public at various places across the globe and problem related to periods in some parts of the world- especially in India, and Asian countries. They are not allowed to enter in the kitchen or for cooking, touching vegetables, or even hugging their children. Going to a temple or religious place is also forbidden for a woman.

What Indian government has done for combating this problem?

Indian Government has shown serious concern and took various important steps. Government exempted sanitary napkin from GST which a new indirect tax, distributed low cost sanitary napkin especially in rural and in slums area. 

Government of India has approved several schemes to menstrual hygiene, distributed sanitary napkin in schools for adolescent girls in rural areas. There are many medical centers are executed across the country for frequent periods related check-ups. However, there is a long way to go government should address deep rooted problem to improve such women related problem.


Around the world women faces serious health issue related to menstruating. Every woman and every girl should be aware about the negative and positive factors about the product they are using in their period time. Women can use cotton sanitary napkin rather than using tampons. Educating adolescent girl about the hygiene and menstruating management is must, and cultural stigmas should be addressed to tackle issues.