Menstrual Cups and Toxic Shock Syndrome: What You Need to Know

Menstrual Cups

How often have you heard the term TSS or Toxic Shock Syndrome swirling across the internet? Every menstruator is familiar with the term in one way or the other. Some even live with the ingrained fear of TSS when a sudden panic attack strikes after they feel a cramp when they forget to change their pad in the past 10-13 hours. Most women avoid vaginal cups or menstrual cups because they think cups cause TSS. However, they aren’t the real culprits. In fact, menstruators who use tampons are more at risk of struggling with TSS than those women who use period cups. So, before you dive into the nitty-gritty of the size of a menstrual cup or how a period cup can cause TSS let’s understand what is TSS and why is it caused.

TSS Overview and Symptoms

A rare but potentially fatal illness known as toxic shock syndrome (TSS) is brought on when germs enter the body and release toxic substances. Although it’s frequently linked to young women using tampons, it can affect people of all ages, including men and children. TSS deteriorates rapidly and, if untreated, can be lethal. But if it’s identified and treated right away, the majority of patients recover completely. The worst part is although the symptoms of TSS start suddenly, they tend to worsen as quickly as you can’t even think. The symptoms typically include:

  • High temperature
  • Dizziness, fainting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Sudden fatigue
  • A sunburn-like rash
  • The tongue, lips and the whites of the eye gradually become bright red
  • Flu-like symptoms such as feeling cold, headache, body ache, cough and sore throat
  • Nausea, etc.

As soon as you notice any of these symptoms, ensure to visit your nearest doctor as soon as possible because TSS can be life-threatening if you don’t treat it early.

What Causes TSS?

TSS is brought on by two distinct bacterial strains, Staphylococcus Aureus (staph), and occasionally Group a Streptococci (strep). Staph naturally exists in 30–50% of healthy adults, however, only 10–20% of menstruating individuals around the world have the staph strain in their vagina. Furthermore, only 10-20% of women who have periods and carry staph vaginally have the strains that can produce the TSS-1 toxin, a certain toxin that causes TSS. Although staph and strep are typically not harmful, they can be extremely dangerous under certain circumstances.


If you think or someone has told you that vaginal cups can cause TSS, they probably don’t know the entire picture. Period cups are safe. In fact, they are safer than any disposable feminine hygiene product. Unlike pas or tampons, you can use cups for longer hours without worrying about the size of the menstrual cup, and they won’t cause any irritation or infection in your intimate area. Also, as cups are sustainable, they don’t contribute to landfill waste, and you save a lot of money in the long run, that you would have otherwise blown on disposable period care products.

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