Model Lauren Wasser is telling People magazine that she will never use a tampon again, and you shouldn’t either.
The 27-year-old California native contracted toxic shock syndrome (TSS) in 2012 as a result of tampon use. TSS caused Wasser to suffer organ failure and a heart attack. She also developed gangrene in her legs. She had to undergo a below-the-knee amputation of her right leg and her left foot was severely damaged.
Wasser now hopes to use her story as a way to educate other young women to the dangers of tampon use:
“Had I known toxic shock was real, and had I seen someone that had either lost limbs or spoke about it publicly, I would have never used tampons.”
“This is not just about me. It’s about the future, and it’s about these young girls that use tampons all the time. If people see the pain I’ve had to go through, maybe they’ll be more cautious and they’ll use pads, stop sleeping in them and just take care of themselves more.”
Wasser has filed a lawsuit involving Kimberly-Clark Corporation—the manufacturer and distributor of Kotex Natural Balance tampons- the brand Lauren was using when she came down with TSS. Her goal is to highlight the potential dangers of tampon use and to force companies to make instructions clearer for users. For example, that users should use the lightest tampon that works for their flow, that they should be changed frequently and that pads should be used during sleep.
Although TSS is most common in menstruating women who use tampons, TSS can occur in both men and women and children at any age. In addition to tampon use, toxic shock syndrome has been associated with:
Toxic shock syndrome made headlines in the late 1970’s/early 1980’s after the deaths of a number of young, previously healthy women. All were using a brand of superabsorbent tampons, called Rely. Previously, tampons were made from natural ingredients, such as cotton. The superabsorbent tampons added synethetic ingredients such as rayon, or a substance called “gelled carboxymethylcellulose.” These material were designed to better absorb fluids. However, according to a study from Yale University, it also created a perfect environment for bacteria to grow. This was especially true for women who harbor the Staph germ asymptomatically in their body.
Rely tampons were removed from the market and warning labels were put on tampon packaging to warn women of the potential for TSS:
Attention: Tampons are associated with Toxic Shock Syndrome(TSS). TSS is a rare but serious disease that may cause death. Read and save the enclosed information.
The symptoms of toxic shock syndrome (TSS) normally begin with a sudden high fever of 102° F or higher.
Other symptoms then rapidly develop, often over the course of only a few hours. They may include:
One or two weeks after the rash appears, it is common that the skin begins to shed in large sheets, especially from the palms of the hands and soles of the feet.
Possible complications of TSS include:
Treatment of TSS requires a combination of antibiotics and intense supportive care to stabilize blood pressure and support any organ which may be failing. Surgery may be necessary to remove dead tissue in the extremities.
If you suspect you may be showing signs of TSS, remove the tampon and contact your physician immediately!