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Can I Leave My Tampon in Too Long?

Tampons are one of the most common menstrual products used in the United States. This internal product comes with various myths surrounding how long to leave a single tampon in for. We’re here to say that no matter what your flow is, what age you are or how long you’ve had your period, eight hours is the maximum one tampon should be left in.

Here’s why:

Toxic shock syndrome (TSS)

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration toxic shock syndrome is rare and number of TSS cases from tampons has declined over the years. However rare this complication is, it’s very serious when it does occur. TSS is caused by a toxic substance that is produced by certain kinds of bacteria. Extended use of a single tampon can encourage the bacteria to grow and develop TSS. 

What are the signs?

Mayo Clinic lists the following as symptoms of TSS: 

  • A sudden high fever
  • Low blood pressure
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • A rash resembling a sunburn, particularly on your palms and soles
  • Confusion
  • Redness of your eyes, mouth and throat
  • Seizures 

If you have any of these symptoms, especially following the use of tampons, contact your healthcare provider to be examined.  

Best practices for tampon use 

If used safely, tampons can be used as your primary menstrual care product. These products are meant to be single-use and then thrown away. Currently the FDA has not approved any reusable tampon products. Reusing tampons carries the risk of TSS in addition to yeast, fungal and bacterial infections. 

Try to use the lowest absorbency tampon needed. If your flow is lighter, the answer is not to use a higher absorbency to prolong changing it. This carries the risk of developing infections and uncomfortable extraction of your tampon. If your tampon lasts more than eight hours without needing to be changed, try using the next lowest absorbency tampon. 

There are many menstrual products for women to choose as they start their period. This choice may adapt as your cycle becomes more regular, but the importance of safe tampon use never changes. If you have questions about safely using tampons or any menstrual product, talk with your healthcare provider to learn correct usage.