Published in: 2018
Marianne Tellier (LiesbethVdB1)
The risk of developing Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) for women using Menstrual Cups (MCs) is very
In 1979-80, large numbers of menstruation-associated cases of TSS appeared. In the US alone, more
than 1000 cases were reported in 1980. An ultra-absorbent tampon (Rely) was identified as a main
reason for this spike, but many other products were also associated, for example 17 cases were
associated with sanitary napkins/minipads. After Rely was removed from the market in 1980, the
numbers decreased to very low levels, and women continue to use tampons.
For MCs, there has been only one fully documented case of TSS associated with use of a MC. This
was in a Canadian woman, in 2015, who had an autoimmune illness. MCs have been available since
the 1930s, and large numbers (probably in the tens of millions) of women are using them, so this is a
very low documented risk of actually contracting TSS, especially when compared to other products.
Studies to date on human populations using MCs show high levels of safety. There are also studies in
laboratory conditions, but it is still debated how that should be applied to human populations. This
may lead to a more conclusive picture in future.
Meanwhile, although TSS is by now a very rare disease, it is nevertheless important as a consumer to
follow guidelines on hygiene and not leave either tampons or MCs too long in the body. Follow the
recommendations of producers.
WoMena (2018). WoMena FAQs: Does the use of menstrual cups increase the risk of toxic shock syndrome?. WoMena
English Factsheets and policy briefs
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