What happens if I forgot to remove my tampon?
Forgetting to change or remove a tampon can be dangerous. It doesn't just put you at risk for leaks, you can develop a serious condition known as Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS). To learn more about the potential dangers of forgetting or otherwise wearing a tampon incorrectly, read on.
Let's talk about this one right away. TSS is a life-threatening condition that can result from leaving a tampon in too long. Tampons are designed to absorb the blood from menstruation, but when that blood is held inside the body on a tampon, it may allow dangerous bacteria (namely Staphylococcus aureus) to breed. It's also possible that small scratches inside the vagina caused by tampons can allow the bacteria to enter the bloodstream directly.
TSS is a rare condition that saw a spike in cases when certain types of high absorbency tampons were being sold. Since that time, tampon manufacturers have changed the design of high absorbency tampons to decrease this risk. Normally, as long as you change your tampon regularly, your risk for developing TSS is low. However, if you leave a tampon in for longer than the recommended four hours, your risk will begin to rise dramatically.
Signs of toxic shock include fever, unusual sweating, vomiting, diarrhea, a drop in blood pressure, muscle aches, or headache. If you experience any of these symptoms after leaving a tampon in too long, contact a healthcare professional right away.
If you forget about a tampon for a matter of days, you may start to develop signs of an infection. These would include an unusual discharge and an abnormal, foul odor, and vaginal itching. If you see any of these symptoms, check for a tampon even if you don't remember leaving one in. If you suspect that you have a lost tampon, but can't find the string, go to an emergency care center or the ER to have it medically removed.
It's important to contact your doctor after you discover the tampon to make sure you haven't developed an infection or to treat it if you have. If you can't get in to see a doctor immediately, you should purchase and use a douche. Yes, in this one, very particular instance, doctors do advise you to douche. While this is usually a harmful practice, if you've had a tampon inside of you for over 24 hours, a douche may protect you from more serious problems than a pH imbalance.
If you find a forgotten tampon and don't have any symptoms, just keep a close eye on yourself to make sure you don't start to show signs of TSS. It's a good idea to tell someone you live with, so they can check up on you for the next few hours.
Tampons can be used safely, but like any potentially dangerous item, you must be careful to only use them as recommended. It's surprisingly easy to forget about a tampon, especially if you're wearing one toward the end of your menstrual cycle, or (though this isn't recommended) as a precaution. If you wear tampons, always double check after your cycle ends to make sure you aren't putting yourself at risk.