From the moment puberty begins, girls are taught the details of tampon use . They introduce us to the different brands available, how to use the applicator and, most importantly, change our tampon every four hours. We know there is a risk of developing Toxic Shock Syndrome or ( Toxic Shock Syndrome), and because we know the risk is “rare,” we discard the leaflet that comes with the box, store a few extra tampons in our bag, and continue our day.

Story of Lauren, the model whose leg was amputated for a tampon

It was the year of 2012 for the month of October and Lauren was not feeling well. She was bringing her period and the menstrual symptoms were present. That same day at night she was so ill that she could hardly stand up. After calling her daughter and receiving no answer, Lauren’s mother became concerned and sent the police to her home, where they found Lauren face down on her bedroom floor. She was rushed to the hospital with a fever of 107, had suffered a massive heart attack, and her internal organs were shutting down. He was minutes from death. A disease specialist sent her tampon to the lab , which tested positive for toxic shock syndrome .

Lauren was put into a medically induced coma. His stomach was bloated as he was pumped with fluid to flush out the toxins running through his body.

[irp posts = ”899 ″ name =” Woman: Do you use tampons and commercial sanitary pads? ”]”My belly was huge. He had tubes everywhere. It’s the most excruciating pain I’ve ever had – I don’t know how to describe it. ” Said the model.

Lauren lost her right leg from the knee down to gangrene, a side effect of toxic shock syndrome, as well as the toes on her left foot. He has to have frequent surgeries for maintenance, and there is a high probability that his right leg will also have to be amputated later if he does not take the required care.

“I wanted to kill myself when I got home,” Lauren said, after facing the psychological consequences of losing a limb. “It took me a while to find out if she was still worthy, if she was still pretty.”

She is now an activist working to educate women about the risks of Toxic Shock Syndrome, even with proper tampon use . She hopes to be a catalyst for change in the tampon industry, making tampons safer for women to use.

Toxic shock syndrome

Toxic shock syndrome is a bacterial infection that results from toxins produced mainly by Staphylococcus aureus , as well as other bacteria such as group A streptococcus. Although historically associated with a superabsorbent tampon, you must already be infected with staph bacteria for you to develop Toxic Shock Syndrome, and it can be seen in postmenopausal children, men, and women.

Symptoms of Toxic Shock Syndrome

  • Sudden high fever
  • Hypotension (low blood pressure)
  • Burn-like rash, particularly on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Confusion
  • Muscle pains
  • Headaches
  • Redness of the eyes, throat and mouth
  • Seizures

5 Alternatives to conventional tampons

Fortunately, we have plenty of alternatives to conventional tampons available that are safer to use and often better for the environment than conventional options for retaining the flow of menstruation.

Organic / Natural Pads and Buffers

This example obviously shouldn’t be your number one choice, but there are natural organic cotton tampons. That means avoiding plastics and scratches on traditional brands that are a breeding ground for bad bacteria. The use of pads or towels instead of tampons does not pose any risk to develop the syndrome.

The downside of towels? They produce a ton of waste, can’t be worn while swimming, and can be downright uncomfortable – any woman who’s ever carried a towel on a hot summer’s day can attest to this. Make sure to choose organic, as cotton is considered one of the dirtiest crops in the world for pesticide and insecticide use.

Take a look at these natural tampons and pads.

Menstrual cups

These are soft, reusable cups that fit inside the vagina. The most popular brand is the Divacup , and the women who use them, bet a lot on them. They are great for the environment and your wallet, they only need to be replaced once a year. Menstrual cups provide twelve-hour protection against leaks and odors and are easy to insert once you get a good fit.

[irp posts = ”35076 ″ name =” How much do you know about the menstrual cup? ”]

Cloth towels

Made with a waterproof coating to prevent blood from seeping onto clothing, towels or cloth pads are safe and reliable. They are reusable, but require washing. Some brands have the option of changing just one insert rather than the entire pad, however there is the snag of what to do with the used pad as your day goes on. After all, there isn’t exactly one good place to store used office towels.

Sea sponge

A sea sponge is what it sounds like – a porous sponge that grows in the ocean. It is a renewable resource that can last up to six months and conforms to the shape of your vagina. You have to clean it before its first use to make sure there are no traces of sand or sea left, and they are messy to remove.

Menstrual panties

Underwear designed to replace panty liners, these panties come in thong, cheeky and hiphugger shapes. Some brands exist as a backup to replace a pantiliner, and some are designed for a heavier flow. They boast of letting you rest easy as they never slip off like traditional panty liners, however you do have to rinse them before washing to prevent blood from staining the rest of your clothes.

By Dr. Eric Jackson

Dr. Eric Jackson provides primary Internal Medicine care for men and women and treats patients with bone and mineral diseases, diabetes, heart conditions, and other chronic illnesses. He is a Washington University Bone Health Program physician and is a certified Bone Densitometrist. Dr. Avery is consistently recognized in "The Best Doctors in America" list.

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