Improve your sex life by getting that burning question answered by one of the world's foremost experts on sex, Dr. Debby Herbenick of Indiana University's Kinsey Institute. Submit anonymously here!
My mom made me terrified of tampons because she had a cousin die from Toxic Shock Syndrome in the 70s. Is that even a thing anymore? It just seems like there used to be a lot of alarm about tampons but there isn’t anymore. Should I be concerned? I still use them (because pads are basically just vagina diapers), but I want to know what my risk is.
Sarah: Ah! My mom did the same thing! But I’ve personally never heard of this being a problem for anyone. Though, if you ever need to kill your appetite, Google “forgotten tampon.” Oh, and DON’T FORGET ABOUT YOUR TAMPON FOR THE LOVE OF GOD.
Dr. Debby: TSS associated with tampon use is incredibly rare, particularly compared to earlier decades. For example, the US Food and Drug Association notes that, in 1980, there were more than 800 cases whereas in 1997 there were only 5 for the entire year. Certain tampon brands and materials were identified years ago and those were either taken off the market or their materials were improved. You can also reduce your risk of tampon-related problems, including far less serious things like vaginal dryness, by using the minimum absorbency you need (e.g., choosing light or regular flow tampons rather than super absorbency unless you absolutely need super). Check out the FDA site for more info.