How do tampons work?
Tampons are small cylindrical period products that are made of absorbent material like cotton or sometimes, synthetic materials. It works by going inside a vagina as the string hangs out, which you can use to pull the tampon out during removal.
Once inside, it absorbs your period blood and other fluids so that it doesn’t leak outside your body. It plugs into your vagina and prevents the blood from exiting your system.
Can you sleep with a tampon in ?
There is much debate over whether you can sleep with a tampon inside because of something called toxic shock syndrome (TSS). It was first identified in 1978 and in the early ‘80s, TSS was linked to tampon use after new super-absorbent tampons hit the market.
After this new kind got pulled out from business, incidences of the disease declined rapidly in women. Today, only around one to three out of a lakh people get diagnosed with TSS each year. Plus, modern tampons have changed in material over time. Previously, carboxymethylcellulose and polyester were used to make tampons, which made it more favorable for Staphylococcus aureus, the bacteria linked to TSS, to prolifer.
However, present-day tampons, like the Carmesi Tampons, are mostly made of cotton, viscose or rayon, which are much safer to be worn inside your body. Still, the risk of TSS is not completely eliminated, and unless you change your tampon right before bed, don’t sleep for more than 8 hours, and make sure to change it before that time frame, it is advisable to not wear a tampon to sleep.
What is toxic shock syndrome?
So, you’ve probably heard or read about TSS a bunch of times in context to tampons, but really it can happen to anyone regardless of tampon use. A certain bacteria known as Staphylococcus aureus can be found all over the place, and often tends to reside on human skin or inside the nose.
But sometimes, when this bacteria grows in number and enters your bloodstream through cuts or injuries, you may get toxic shock syndrome. A tampon creates a warm and moist environment inside the vagina, offering a perfect breeding ground for the bacteria. If you happen to get micro-cuts from the tampon fibres or friction inside, the bacteria can enter your bloodstream, causing TSS.
High absorbency tampons pose more of a threat since they tend to dry out the vagina further, increasing your chances of getting small cuts in the vaginal walls. TSS is a life-threatening disease that needs immediate attention and so, even though it’s rare, it should not be taken lightly.
How do you know if you have TSS?
If you contract TSS, you will most likely start out with flu-like symptoms that can gradually progress into more serious ones:
- A fever
- Sore throat
- Muscle aches and headaches
- Nausea and vomiting
- A feeling of dizziness or disorientation
- Falling blood pressure
- Rashes on your skin
- Peeling skin from the soles and palms
- Redness and inflammation of the eyes, mouth and throat
- Possible seizures
Toxic shock syndrome is a medical emergency that will likely require treatment in the ICU for several days. If you notice any of the symptoms, it’s advisable to reach out to a health care specialist right away without delay.
What are the best period product options during bedtime?
There are other period care options available in the market that you can opt for during bedtime, in place of tampons. If you tend to sleep for longer than 8 hours or use super-absorbent tampons, it may be better to look at the following options during sleep:
- Pads - You can get soft, rash-free and comfortable pads like the Carmesi Sensitive or Carmesi Eco-conscious Sanitary Pads. They are extremely comfortable options for bedtime and have enough coverage to protect you from leaks.
- Menstrual cup - Menstrual cups are another great period product that can be inserted into your body for an extremely comfortable and leak-free period experience. Sleeping in them is also quite safe since they can be kept inside for up to 12 hours. Plus, since they are made of silicone and only collect your fluids instead of absorbing them, cups don’t dry out your vagina. This makes them safer against TSS and a great choice as a bedtime period product. If you’re looking to try an extremely soft and easy-to-use period cup, try the Carmesi Menstrual Cup for an amazing period experience.
Period underwear - Another great alternative to tampons is period underwear, which is designed to absorb your flow and keep you dry and comfortable all night long. They can be used in place of regular underwear during periods, and all you need to do is keep them on. If it is of the reusable kind, you can simply wash and wear it again.
What if you accidentally slept with your tampon in?
Sometimes, it’s possible to forget your tampon and accidentally fall asleep with it inside. This is usually fine, even if it crosses 8 hours because TSS is actually rare. Just make sure you change your tampon as soon as you wake up, in order to avoid any unnecessary risk.
But, if you happen to notice any of the TSS symptoms like a high fever or low blood pressure, it’s advisable to contact a doctor right away.