Can a menstrual cup cause Toxic Shock Syndrome?

If you’ve ever used a tampon, you’ve probably heard and feared the words Toxic Shock Syndrome or TSS. Every tampon box holds a handy little information slip that outlines the dangers and symptoms of TSS and warns against using your tampon for too many hours at a time.

One of the questions we often get is “Can menstrual cups cause TSS?” In this blog post, we are going to tell you a little bit about TSS, talk about the connection between TSS and menstrual cups, and give you some advice for menstrual cup safety!

First, let’s talk about TSS.

Most people don’t realize that Toxic Shock Syndrome is not strictly associated with menstruation! According to WebMD, “it can happen to men and women who have been exposed to staph bacteria while recovering from surgery, a burn, an open wound, or the use of a prosthetic device.”

Staph bacteria overgrowth is the main cause of TSS, and bacteria overgrowth can occur when a substance is left inside the body for a long period of time. If that bacteria overgrowth occurs and the staph gets inside the body, it can cause potentially fatal TSS.

It’s important for you to understand how TSS works so you can take precautionary steps to prevent this overgrowth in your own body.

Can menstrual cups cause TSS?

The simple answer is yes, but it is highly unlikely. If you were to leave your menstrual cup in for an extended period of time (we recommend changing and rinsing your cup every 12 hours) bacteria could begin to grow in the fluid that is trapped inside your cup. If that bacteria was able to enter your body, that could potentially be very dangerous. The truth is, as of the date of this post, there have only been 2 documented cases of TSS that were linked to a menstrual cup, and both were because the menstrual cup was inserted and not emptied or cleaned for more than 7 days.

TSS with a menstrual cup is unlikely because…

  • The silicone will not break down. Tampons are especially dangerous because pieces of the tampon can break away and get stuck inside the vaginal canal. These tiny fragments can be nearly imperceptible and a feeding ground for staph bacteria. Your menstrual cup will not break apart and is always removed in its entirety, leaving no particles to feed bacteria.
  • The menstrual cup is gentle and easy to insert and remove, so its not likely to make an abrasion in the sensitive skin of the vaginal canal. The insertion or removal of a dry tampon can scrape skin, causing small abrasions that could allow the entrance of bad bacteria into the bloodstream.

How can I avoid TSS with a menstrual cup?

First, just your decision to use a menstrual cup in the first place significantly decreases your chance of Toxic Shock Syndrome! That being said, you still need to be careful to make sure your vaginal canal is kept free of bad bacteria overgrowth! Here are a few tips that you can follow to stay healthy while using a menstrual cup.

Keep your Pixie Cup clean and sanitized.

This is so important that we wrote a blog post about it! To keep your cup in the best shape, rinse your cup – preferably with a gentle, natural soap or Pixie Cup Wash – every twelve hours, and make sure you sanitize your cup by boiling or steaming it before AND after each cycle.

Empty your Pixie Cup often.

We get it… your Pixie Cup is so comfortable that it can be easy to forget you’re wearing it! We are guilty, too! That being said, make sure you do not leave your Pixie Cup in for more than 12 hours. If you know you are prone to forgetting, set a timer on your phone, or leave something out on the bathroom counter to remind you! It’s so important to continue changing your cup twice each 24 hour day, even on your lighter flow days.

We hope this blog post was helpful to you and answered all of your menstrual cup and TSS questions! If you have any more questions at all, drop them in the comments or send us a message! We are here to help you achieve success with your menstrual cup… every single time.

**Please note, we are not doctors or medical advisors. If you need medical attention, make an appointment with your doctor.

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2 Comments

  1. Amber on July 30, 2019 at 10:09 am

    Love this article! I’ve never left my cup in for more than a day, but I’ve had a few “panic” moments after my period was over thinking I may have forgotten about my cup. Thankfully I never have, but I really like the idea of setting a reminder on my phone for peace of mind!

    • Laura U. on July 30, 2019 at 10:22 am

      I think we’ve all had a few panic moments! 😂 I’m so glad the idea of setting a reminder was helpful, Amber! Thanks for commenting!

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