Toxic shock syndrome

It sometimes happens that you hear in the news or on social media the very sad mention that a girl or woman died due to the consequences of Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS).


Toxic Shock Syndrome is a rare but serious illness which can be fatal. It can be treated successfully if recognised quickly. It is important to understand the signs and symptoms of TSS. If you suspect that you or someone you know might have TSS you must seek immediate medical attention.

Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) can affect men, women and children of any age. The use of tampons is associated with Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS). It is estimated that about half of TSS cases are related to menstruation, but the research on TSS has not reached any precise conclusions on the link between TSS and tampons use.

Some studies have suggested that there is a link with absorbency of tampons, and it is therefore important that women choose the tampons with the lowest absorbency to suit their menstrual flow.

With early diagnosis, toxic shock syndrome can be successfully treated. Sadly, however, out of the small number of people who fall ill each year, 2-3 people die from TSS. It is important to remember that if TSS is diagnosed and treated early, there is a good chance of recovery.

Symptoms of TSS can include:

  • Sudden high fever usually over 39oC (102oF)
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Sunburn like rash
  • Sore throat
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Muscle aches
  • Severe flu-like feeling

These symptoms may not appear in this order and may not be present at once.

In the unlikely event that you have these symptoms during your period, remove (and keep for doctors to test) your tampon and consult your doctor immediately, indicating that you have been using a tampon. Do not worry about wasting your doctor’s time. TSS can reoccur. If you have previously been diagnosed with TSS you should not use tampons.  

Consult dedicated websites on Toxic Shock Syndrome

You can find more detailed information about TSS on the websites below:

You are interested in getting more information on the components of a tampon

You can find the information on composition and components of tampons below. Or please consult the EU Tampons Code of Practice.

Tampon infographic
Absorbent Hygiene Products components Tampon