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Understanding Toxic Shock Syndrome -- the Basics

What Causes Toxic Shock Syndrome? continued...

The way in which bacterial poisons enter the bloodstream may also be related to tampon use. Sliding a tampon into place in the vagina may make microscopic tears in its walls, rupturing tiny blood vessels. A super-absorbent tampon -- especially if it's left in place too long, or if it is used when the menstrual flow is light -- can dry out the vagina, making such tearing even more likely.

Researchers investigating the causes of toxic shock syndrome have ruled out feminine deodorant sprays and douches, underwear, and other clothing. The condition is also unrelated to the victim's menstrual history, drug or alcohol use, cigarette smoking, swimming or bathing, or sexual activity.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Nivin Todd, MD, FACOG on April 13, 2013

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