Claim: Tampax Pearl brand tampons have been linked to an outbreak of toxic shock syndrome.
Example: [Collected via e-mail, 2003]
I know this subject is rather embarrassing, but I was glad my sister passed this message to me, and I hope you will send it along to other women, too.
A woman I work with started using the new Tampax
Well, it hasn't ended yet. When she went in last, the doctor went to get some cultures, but found that her cervix was bleeding and it prevented her from getting all the cultures that she needed. The fibers from the tampon are cutting her and making her bleed. But the blood is having a hard time getting out and so there was a lot of old blood in the way when the doctor tried to take the cultures. Right now, she is not being treated for anything, not until they can figure out how to treat her. Poor woman is uncomfortable and in pain! Most likely, they'll have to do a D&C (did I use the right letters?) to clean it all out. Another girl that I work with also has been using them for a few months and has been having problems, but couldn't figure it out. She won't be using them anymore.
I have used a few, just to try them, but will be throwing out any that I have left. I am also going to go home and inspect my regular tampons to see if fibers come off of those also. By the way, my friend's doctor is writing a letter to the company and my friend is looking into filing a lawsuit. This is affecting her in every aspect of her life. She is also very afraid now of TSS. She told me and every woman she knows in order to get the word out, so no one else has to go through this. I said I'd spread the word. I know a yeast infection is an awful thing to experience, but this is so much worse!
Spread the word and take care!
Supply Chain Metrics & Support
Phone: (734) 45-80681
Fax: (734) 52-35629
Origins: Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) is a serious, potentially fatal disease, caused by toxin-producing strains of the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus. Although the link between TSS and tampon use is unclear, about half of all cases of TSS occur in women who use tampons, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The
CDC carried out national and state-based studies to pinpoint TSS risk factors and used its national surveillance system to track trends. Research suggested one factor was the use of very highly absorbent tampons made from new materials.
Studies showed that women who used Proctor & Gamble's Rely tampons were at substantially greater risk for TSS than other tampon users. This brand consisted of polyester foam and a special type of highly absorbent cellulose, a combination no longer used in tampons. "TSS was not limited to Rely, but it did play a major role," says Pollard. Proctor & Gamble voluntarily withdrew that tampon from the market in 1980, and competing manufacturers of tampons made from other superabsorbent materials began removing them as well.
Compared with the 813 menstrual TSS cases in 1980, there were only three confirmed cases in 1998 and six in 1997. "Although there is some underreporting of cases, this is a real decline," says Rana Hajjeh, M.D., a medical epidemiologist with CDC's division of bacterial and mycotic diseases. She attributes the drop in TSS rates to the removal of Rely from the market and advances in the way FDA regulates tampon materials and absorbency
The Tampax Pearl tampon has a braided cord.
Twenty years ago the IUD was taken off the market because the braided cord was found to cause Toxic Shock Syndrome.
The Tucson Hospital has already had 5 life threatening cases from the Pearl as of
Please tell every woman you care about.
Beginning in 1970, the A.H. Robins Company marketed the Dalkon Shield, a contraceptive intrauterine device, or IUD. (An IUD is a small plastic T-shaped device with an attached removal cord which is inserted into the uterus through the cervix and which, when in place, irritates the endometrial lining of the uterus and thereby prevents implantation of a fertilized ovum along the uterine wall, a necessary step in the development of an embryo.) After a large number of pelvic disease and septic abortion cases (including 12 deaths due to miscarriage-related infections) were linked to Dalkon Shields in the early 1970s,
One of the potential causes of Dalkon Shield-related medical problems was thought to be its braided, multi-filament removal cord, the hypothesis being that the braided cord provided a breeding ground for bacteria and served as a conduit which allowed those bacteria to travel from the vagina to the cervix (and thence into the uterus and fallopian tubes). Tampax Pearl tampons also have braided removal cords (designed to help prevent soilage — material bypassing the tampon even though it is not yet "full," a problem experienced by 25% of tampon users), but its similarities to the Dalkon Shield end there. Even if the "conduit" hypothesis were true, it would not be an issue with Tampax Pearl tampons, because the Pearl's braided cord does not bridge two different microbiological environments (i.e., the vagina and the cervix) as the Dalkon Shield's did. The removal cord for the Pearl tampon rests completely in the lower third of the vagina and thus provides no conduit for bacteria to travel from the vagina to the cervix (and beyond).
The warning message quoted at the head of this page, which purportedly describes the experience of a Pearl user who suffered continual yeast infections and then found that fibers from Pearl tampons had been accumulating inside her for five months and caused her cervix to bleed, is similarly unlikely. Yeast infections are normally caused by a fungus, a particular problem when the normal biological balance of the vagina is disturbed (e.g., through changes in hormone levels during pregnancy, use of birth control pills, and the normal fluctuation in
All that could really be verified about this latter e-mail is that the Amy Strand who started the message is indeed a real person. A Procter & Gamble spokesperson informed us that they did contact her employer (Ford) in their efforts to track down the origin of the rumor, and Amy Strand stated that she had been let go by her employer for violating company policy by using the company system for personal
Last updated: 7 March 2014
Gordon, Meryl. "The Class-Action Quandry: Cash Payment, No Apology." The New York Times. 20 February 1999. Meadows, Michelle. "TSS Now Rare, But Women Still Should Take Care." FDA Consumer. March 2000. Sobol, Richard B. Bending the Law: The Story of the Dalkon Shield Bankruptcy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993. ISBN 0-226-76753-1. Willis, Judith Levine. "An Itch Like No Other." FDA Consumer. April 1996.