Buffers, “cups” … experts ask manufacturers for “clearer” information on toxic shock

Tampons or menstrual cups: all internal intimate protections present a rare but serious risk of toxic shock, emphasizes the National Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health Safety (ANSES) in a report published Monday, January 20 , calling on manufacturers to provide “Clearer information” on the hygiene rules to be observed.

The agency, which had already looked into the health safety of female protections in the summer of 2018 (tampons, sanitary pads, panty liners and menstrual cups, or “cups”), also reiterates its recommendation made to manufacturers “To eliminate or minimize the presence of chemicals” found in these products, even if none, again, exceeds the health thresholds.

“From a health point of view, the main risk of female protections is the risk of toxic menstrual shock syndrome which, although rare, can have dramatic consequences”, insists AurĂ©lie Mathieu, who coordinated this scientific expertise.

About twenty cases are recorded each year in France, but this number is undoubtedly underestimated, the declaration of this disease due to a bacterial infection with staphylococcus aureus not being compulsory. Only 1% to 4% of women are carriers of the staph strain involved in menstrual toxic shock syndrome (TSS), and therefore potentially at risk.

Read also Menstrual insecurity: how much do menstruation cost in a woman’s life?

Detected early, SCT can be cured by taking antibiotics, but it can also cause significant digestive, muscular, renal, etc. damage. The first symptoms (fever, rashes, lowered blood pressure) can resemble an influenza state, the diagnosis is often difficult to establish.

On January 9, a 17-year-old girl first treated for gastroenteritis died in Belgium of a staph infection, according to federal health authorities. His death is due “To the septic shock of his pads”, his family reported in the Belgian media. The case of an American model amputated in both legs following an SCT had also been widely publicized in 2015, leading to the launch in France of a petition asking for more transparency on the composition of the pads.

But “In the current state of knowledge, the SCT is not linked to the material used in the composition of these protections”, concludes ANSES in the update of its expert report. “The risk of developing this disease (…) is related to the conditions of use of personal protection “, she added, noting that information on this risk is too often missing, especially on menstrual cups. “All internal female protections block the flow of menstrual flow, which then behaves like a kind of culture medium”, explains AurĂ©lie Mathieu.

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Remember the rules of hygiene

In women carrying this particular strain of staph, the bacteria can sometimes “Grow until you have enough bacteria to carry the toxin” TBS manager “Be produced and pass to the blood level”. Also, the agency “Reminds users of the importance of respecting the hygiene rules related to the use of protections”, including maximum wear time and hand washing before changing protection.

A survey carried out in 2017 by Opinion Way for the health security agency underlined that these rules were far from being generalized: only 61% of the women questioned said to wash their hands before changing protection (24% with water, 50% with soap and 7% with hydroalcoholic gel) and many declared that they kept the same protection for more than five hours (22% of tampon users, 26% for towels and 75% for menstrual cups).

Article reserved for our subscribers Read also Menstrual insecurity: “When I have my period, I have to choose between eating or staying” clean “”

Unlike the United States, where periodic protection is considered a medical device, in the European Union, “There are no specific regulations governing the composition, manufacture or use of personal protective products”, which fall under the regulations that apply to all everyday consumer goods, recalls ANSES.

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