Why Being Uneducated About Tampon Use Can Put Your Health in Jeopardy

Real talk: Choosing, and sometimes using, feminine hygiene products can be a confusing and often times laborious task, especially when it comes to tampons. Sure, you may be an old pro at these ‘time of the month’ lifesavers, but even we were surprised to find out that there is a lot—and we mean A LOT—of conflicting information out there!

We had always been told that a tampon can be safely used for up to 8 hours, but, as it turns out, there are different schools of thought on this.

As many veteran tampon users know, the main reason why tampons come with ‘time limits’, for lack of a better term, is because they have been linked to Toxic Shock Syndrome, or TSS, a rare, but sometimes deadly bacterial infection.

Although not all cases of TSS in tampon users can be entirely blamed on the patient’s usage of the feminine product, decades of research have found that leaving tampons in for a prolonged time—in particular, ones that are of a higher absorbency than the flow requires—can lead to this condition.

While we can all agree that TSS is a very real, and very scary, thing, our research shows us that the tampon ‘time limit’ is not something that is universally agreed upon. For instance, one of the largest, and potentially best-known, tampon manufacturers in the U.S., Tampax, plainly says on its site that the products can be left in for up to 8 hours.

woman holds a tamponWikipedia Commons
It’s a good number, but it’s not one that everyone can get behind. You see, the general consensus is, the shorter amount of time the tampon is in place, the better. For instance, Dr. Dasha Fielder, the subject of today’s video, preaches a much lower time limit to her patients.

Just the same, one area in which everyone agrees is that women should only be using tampons that correspond with their flow. So, if you are in the habit of using the Super Plus variety for your light period just so you can get more bang for your buck, you could be playing with fire.

How to lessen your chances of developing TSS

Fortunately, only about 1 in 100,000 women fall ill to TSS annually, so your chances of developing the condition are quite slim. With that said, you shouldn’t let that statistic dissuade you from adhering to the aforementioned safe tampon practices.

Also, if you start feeling ‘off’—whether or not you are using tampons at the moment—be sure to seek medical attention immediately. The symptoms to look out for are high fever, vomiting or diarrhea, a rash, muscle aches, confusion, and in the worst cases, seizures.

Not the most straightforward topic, huh? Luckily, we’ve found a doc that seems to have a very clear perspective on this entirely perplexing topic. To hear Dr. Fielder’s take on the contentious issue of tampon time limits, be sure to watch the video below. Spoiler alert: Her recommendation will surprise you—it certainly surprised us!

We’d love to hear your thoughts on all things ‘periods’. How often do you swap out your tampons? What does your doctor recommend? Do you use any alternative feminine products that you love?