Most women are aware that the recommended duration for leaving a tampon in is less than eight hours, but what happens if you leave it in longer?
Redbook interviewed Mary Jane Minkin, a professor of obstetrics, to find out the science behind it. The results may surprised you...
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1. Toxic Shock Syndrome
This is the infection that you may have heard horror stories about - it is caused by a buildup of bacteria from leaving a tampon in too long. However Playtex reports that this is extremely rare - only one to 17 cases are reported for every 100,000 women who use tampons. The symptoms include high fever, low blood pressure, and hot, scalded skin. If you have any of those symptoms, it's time to see a doctor.
The vaginal tissue surrounding the tampon can react with dryness, which can be uncomfortable. You can fix this by switching a tampon for pads for a while, or using a bit of lube.
3. A Bad Smell
When blood from your period reacts to bacteria from wearing a tampon, it can cause a bad smell. The longer you wear a tampon, the more bacteria will gather and the worse the smell.
Besides potential leaks from the tampon getting too soaked, you may notice a brown, watery discharge if you've had the tampon in for 12 hours or more. Older blood usually takes on a more brown colour.
Besides these other symptoms, chances are you may not experience anything from leaving your tampon in for too long. If you have left it in for a day or two, it may be worth checking with your doctor that the bacteria hasn't developed too much.