From the time you started using tampons, you've probably been aware of toxic shock syndrome (TSS). And to keep it from falling off your radar in the years since puberty, you get a nice, scary reminder of the risks every time you open a new box. (Psst... Why Is Everyone So Obsessed with Periods Right Now?)
TSS occurs when toxins spawn from the Staphylococcus aureus bacteria that naturally occurs in your body. Tampons (especially the extra absorbency kind) can cause specific strains to go wild, producing a ton of TSS-1 toxins that can get into your bloodstream. From there, TSS-1 can cause high fever, drastic drops in blood pressure, and even organ failure and death. Not exactly something you want to risk—especially since there's currently no specific course of treatment.
But thanks to the promising results from the clinical trial of a TSS vaccine, you may be able to cross the risk of TSS off your list of things to worry about. Researchers at the University of Vienna in Austria, along with an Austrian pharmaceutical company, recently published the promising results of a Phase 1 clinical trial of the TSS vaccine. People who received the shot (versus those who received a placebo) experienced no negative side effects and began developing TSS antibodies, a sign of the drug's effectiveness. The findings were published in the journal The Lancet Infectious Diseases.
Researchers say the vaccine could put an end to the disease. But until then, be sure to change your tampon every four hours.