A young woman from British Columbia was found dead in her room during a overnight school trip in March 2017.
Back then, her death was mysterious and sudden, and the coroner could not identify the reason behind it. One year later, he reported that 16-year-old Sara Manitoski passed away due to the toxic shock syndrome, a condition caused by bacterial toxins.
The strain of Staphylococcus aureus discovered on her tampon was probably the source of the bacterial infection. The executive director of the North American Menopause Society, Dr. JoAnne Ponkertonn, told People that TSS develops from the toxins that are already in the body.
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There are a few triggers for the disease: Vaginal colonization with a strain of Staphylococcus aureus, production of toxins by the S. aureus, penetration of toxin across the vaginal epithelium; a lack of antibodies to neutralize the toxin.
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She claims that women should not be too worried about using tampons; the main rule is to switch between tampons and pads and avoid a prolonged use.
TSS is extremely rare and it occurs to an average of 40 people per year in the US; out of these, only a small number were menstruating women.
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According to a research from the University of Minnesota, only one in every 100,000 women who use tampons contract TSS every year.
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Is using tampons safe for a women’s body anyway? Lauren Wasser, the model who lost a leg because of toxic shock syndrome, urges women to pay attention to the personal hygiene products they use and to seek organic alternatives.
However, experts explain that even though the ingredients may seem toxic, using tampons properly cannot damage a woman’s health. These products are made of cotton, rayon, or a blend of the two.
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Rayon is made from cellulose fibers derived from wood pulp and produced using elemental chlorine-free, or totally chlorine-free, bleaching processes.
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Using tampons is a personal choice. In any case, it is important to remember that, even though the product is relatively safe, not using it correctly may leave you open to bacterial infections. Therefore, remember not to wear one for long periods of time, and to change soiled pads for new ones after short periods of time.