Preventing toxic shock syndrome 

The best way to prevent toxic shock syndrome (TSS) is to get quick treatment for wounds on the body and correctly use tampons and contraception.

Read information about:

Care when using tampons

The link between TSS and tampon use is unclear, but research suggests that tampon absorbency may be a factor. For this reason, it is important that you:

  • always use a tampon with the lowest absorbency suitable for your period flow
  • alternate tampons with a sanitary towel or panty liners during your period

You should also remember to:

  • wash your hands before and after inserting a tampon
  • change tampons regularly – as often as directed on the pack
  • never insert more than one tampon at a time
  • when using one at night, insert a fresh tampon before going to bed and remove it on waking
  • remove a tampon at the end of a period

Information about TSS is contained in the tampon manufacturer’s instruction leaflet. This information is often updated, so it is important to read the leaflet regularly.

TSS has been known to recur, so avoid using tampons if you have had TSS before.

Female barrier contraception

If you are using a female barrier form of contraception, such as a diaphragm, contraceptive cap or sponge, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions about how long you can leave the device in your vagina. If these devices are left in for too long, they could cause an infection and potentially TSS.

If you have had TSS in the past, you may wish to use an alternative method of contraception.


Page last reviewed: 03/09/2014

Next review due: 03/09/2016