Sleeping With a Tampon: Are There Any Risks?

Many people wear tampons to prevent leakage and provide comfort throughout the day. At the same time, there are many benefits to wearing tampons, but some potential risks to using the menstruation device, like toxic shock syndrome (TSS), can occur from prolonged wear of tampons.

Key takeaways:
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    While you can sleep with a tampon, it should be removed after eight hours.
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    If a tampon is not changed after eight hours, you can increase your chances of developing toxic shock syndrome.
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    Toxic shock syndrome is a bacterial infection that can travel through the bloodstream, causing symptoms like fever, headache, and limited liver function.
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    Preventive measures for TSS include changing tampons regularly and washing your hands before and after inserting a tampon.
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    Alternatives to tampons are menstrual cups, reusable and disposable pads, and menstrual underwear.

For those who like to wear tampons throughout the night, it’s essential to understand how long they can sleep with a tampon in.

Is it safe to wear a tampon overnight?

Yes, it is okay to go to bed with a tampon in, but you should not keep a tampon in for over eight hours, as it may lead to toxic shock syndrome (TSS). In addition, you’ll want to ensure that your tampon has the right absorbency level to prevent leakage during the night.

Whether you have a light or a heavy period, it’s crucial to understand how much blood you lose each menstruation period to choose the right tampon absorbency level. If you select the incorrect absorbency type for your period, you can increase your risk of getting TSS.

If you take the proper precautions when using a tampon, they’re safe and can make managing a period much easier.

Toxic shock syndrome – what you should know:

Toxic shock syndrome is an acute-onset illness that can affect menstruating women, postmenopausal women, and men. The condition is caused by toxins produced by strains of staphylococcus bacteria, like staphylococcus aureus. These toxins enter the bloodstream, traveling to different organs across the body. If left untreated, TSS can lead to severe illness and irreparable damage.

Risk factors of toxic shock syndrome

Risk factors for TSS include the following:

  • Tampon use (specifically super-absorbent tampons);
  • Recent childbirth, abortion, or miscarriage;
  • A staph infection;
  • Foreign items or packings inside the body;
  • History of using a diaphragm or contraceptive sponge;
  • Recent surgery;
  • Wound infection after surgery;
  • Menstrual period.

Symptoms of toxic shock syndrome

Since TSS can travel to different body parts, it can cause harmful infections in several organs. TSS shares similarities to other medical conditions in many cases, so getting an official diagnosis from a healthcare provider is crucial.

Here are some of the most common symptoms of TSS:

  • Chills;
  • Fever higher than 102 degrees Fahrenheit (or 38.9 degrees Celsius);
  • Bleeding problems;
  • Difficulties breathing;
  • Limited kidney function;
  • Decreased liver function;
  • Live impairment;
  • Headache;
  • Low blood pressure;
  • Vomiting;
  • Shock;
  • Bruising;
  • Disorientation and confusion.

Toxic shock syndrome treatment

TSS can be diagnosed and treated early to prevent permanent damage. Blood cultures, blood tests, urine tests, and lumbar puncture (draws spinal fluid to check for bacteria) are standard diagnostic tests to diagnose or rule out TSS. There are several treatment options for patients, depending on how soon their condition was diagnosed by a medical professional.

Potential treatments for TSS include the following:

  • Antibiotics;
  • Dialysis (for patients with kidney failure);
  • Blood transfusion;
  • Surgery.

Alternatives to tampons

If you’re concerned about TSS or just don’t find tampons comfortable, several options available on the market can help with menstruation. Below we discuss some alternatives to tampons that you can consider for managing your period.

Disposable menstrual pads

These menstruation products are just as popular as tampons. Users simply remove the pad from its packaging and place it into their underwear. Pads come in different sizes and absorbency levels and can be worn for up to eight hours daily. The downsides of disposable menstrual pads are that they can harm the environment and may still cause leakage if you have a heavy flow.

Menstrual underwear

Menstrual underwear has become more popular over the past couple of years. These undies are typically made of breathable material, preventing moisture buildup, which can often lead to strong odors. In addition, menstrual underwear can help to prevent leakage by trapping moisture.

Menstrual cups

A menstrual cup (also known as a Diva cup) is similar to a tampon but is reusable. Menstrual cups last longer than tampons, which can help you save money every month. Unfortunately, like tampons, prolonged use of menstrual cups can also cause TSS. If you decide to use menstrual cups, take precautions to protect yourself against TSS.

Reusable menstrual pads

If you like the feel and style of menstrual pads but prefer a more eco-friendly product, many companies offer reusable fabric pads, which you can easily handwash or throw into the washer after use. In addition, reusable pads can last up to five years, making them an excellent money-saver for people with periods.

Safety tips to prevent TSS

Fortunately, there are preventative measures you can take to limit your risk of developing a bacterial infection like TSS. Here are some safety tips for preventing TSS:

  • Change tampons regularly. It recommended to change it every four to eight hours;
  • Use other alternatives. Switch between tampons, menstrual pads, and panty liners during your period;
  • Pick the right absorbency. Choose tampons with the lowest absorbency levels;
  • Use one tampon at a time. Never place more than one tampon into your vagina at one time;
  • Keep good hygiene. Always wash your hands before and after inserting a tampon;
  • Track usage time. Place a new tampon in before going to bed, and immediately remove it once you wake up;
  • Only use when on period. Remove the tampon once your period is over.

And, if you have experienced TSS before, it’s recommended that you avoid using products like tampons or female barrier contraceptives like sponges.

What to do if I suspect TSS?

If you believe you’re showing signs or symptoms of TSS, call your doctor immediately, especially if you’ve recently used tampons. Seek immediate medical attention if you’re experiencing severe pain by visiting the ER or calling 911. TSS is considered a medical emergency and is treated as such by medical professionals.

Tampons are a common product used to manage menstruation. While it’s okay to go to bed with a tampon, it should be removed after eight hours. Keeping tampons in longer than eight hours can potentially lead to the development of bacterial infection, and toxic shock syndrome (TSS). TSS can cause symptoms like fatigue, fever, headaches, and vomiting. TSS can be diagnosed and treated, but there are preventive measures you can take to limit your risk of developing the condition.

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