Use tampons? Don't panic about toxic shock syndrome

Story highlights

  • Toxic shock syndrome is incredibly rare, affecting less than one in 100,000 people in the US
  • If you use tampons properly, your risk is no higher than a man who's never had a period

Model Lauren Wasser's story is the worst nightmare of anyone with a vagina -- in 2015, she woke up in a hospital to discover she was scheduled for a leg amputation after her tampon caused toxic shock syndrome.

This week, Wasser's experience put her back in the news when the Washington Post reported that she may soon have to undergo an amputation of her other leg, too. It's enough to make you want to swear off tampons forever.
    Toxic shock syndrome, or TSS, is a severe complication of certain bacterial infections; it's often associated with tampons because the blood that accumulates in a tampon can serve as a culture medium for the bacteria.
    But before you clear your drawers of every last Tampax, there's something you should understand about TSS: It's incredibly rare, affecting less than one out of every 100,000 people in the U.S. And if you use your tampons properly, your risk of developing TSS is no higher than that of a man who's never had a period or used a tampon to staunch anything other than a bad nosebleed.