Updated: Mar 12, 2020
We’ve all heard the horror stories and cautionary tales about sleeping with your tampon in which could lead to sepsis, toxic shock syndrome (TSS), bacterial infections – even just plain big bad leaks! But how much of that is true? Do you ignore all the chatter or does your vagina actually need a break to breathe at night?
Well, it turns out, there may not be just one easy answer. Most gynecologists tend to agree that it is up to each woman and can depend on her personal flow! For some women, a tampon may not be enough to block the bleeding all night. If your flow tends to be on the heavier side, a simple tampon may reach max absorption capacity just a few hours into your rest, and you could experience overflow leakage.
Also important to keep in mind is the fact that the recommended maximum amount of time to keep a tampon in is eight hours. That eight hours, then, would include the time before you actually fall asleep, time spent asleep and the time when you wake up before you go to the bathroom. If you plan on getting a full or long night’s sleep, then, that means you most likely will be keeping the tampon in well past its safe length.
That maximum amount of time is quite important to adhere to, as leaving a tampon in for too long can indeed lead to an infection.
And while the most extreme end of possible negative outcomes, Toxic Shock Syndrome, is less prevalent, it is still something to keep in mind. While there are also no concrete links between extended tampon wearing and developing TSS, it is very likely that keeping a tampon in for too long can trap the bacteria your vagina naturally produces and block it up, essentially, which then causes that bacteria to escape out into your cervix where it really does not belong.
Another thing to be cautious of is drying out your naturally occurring vaginal mucosa. The more absorbent a tampon is, the more risk you run of it sucking up fluids it should not take when left in too long overnight. With vaginal mucous absorbed away, you then run the risk of vaginal tears which can allow bacteria to enter the body and your bloodstream. Even if a tear is too microscopic to cause you pain, you might be at risk for infection.
The bottom line is that while there is no guarantee of something horrible happening due to sleeping in your tampon, there are many risks associated with it, from something as small as blood flow overflow onto your sheets to things much more serious. Rather than risk it staying in too long, opt for a safer route, such as period-proof sleepwear, to not only give you much better coverage when it comes to blood leaking but also pose no threat of pain or infection!