Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) is a rare but serious bacterial infection that has been associated with tampon use. However, it is easily preventable. All tampon packages are required by law to include important information about TSS, so read through it the next time you purchase tampons.

Symptoms of TSS

The symptoms of TSS include sudden fever (usually 102° or higher), vomiting, diarrhea, fainting or near fainting when standing up, dizziness and/or a rash that looks like sunburn. TSS is very uncommon, but when it does occur, it is serious enough to cause death. If you find yourself with any of the symptoms, discontinue tampon use and consult a physician immediately. You should also consult a physician before using tampons if you have had TSS warning signs in the past.

Reducing Your Risk

Women using tampons during their menstrual period are at risk of contracting TSS. The reported risk is higher among teenage girls and women under 30 years of age, but TSS can occur at any age. It is estimated to occur in 1 to 17 per 100,000 menstruating women and girls per year. Studies indicate that higher absorbency tampons increase the risk, so we suggest you use tampons with the minimum absorbency needed. The chart below will help you choose the right product.

You may avoid the risk of tampon-associated TSS by not using tampons, and you can reduce the risk by alternating tampon use with use of pads or pantiliners during your period.

Information About Tampon Absorbency

Tampons are available in several absorbencies to meet individual needs. The ranges of absorbency and their corresponding names (Regular, Super, Super Plus) are required to be used by all tampon manufacturers to indicate the amount of fluid absorbed, using a standard laboratory test. You can use these standardized absorbency ranges and names to compare tampons of all manufacturers. Choose the lowest absorbency you need at a given time in your period to reduce the risk of contracting TSS.


6 or fewer grams absorbed
6–9 grams absorbed
9–12 grams absorbed
12–15 grams absorbed
15–18 grams absorbed


Light Absorbency
Regular Absorbency
Super Absorbency
Super Plus Absorbency
Ultra Absorbency

To find the tampon that will suit you best, try Find My Kotex® Fit.