Can You Use Tampons After an Early Miscarriage?

Tampon on pink background
Gustaf Brundin / Getty Images
Table of Contents
View All
Table of Contents

Physicians traditionally advise against the use of tampons during miscarriage bleeding. The cervix may be more dilated after a miscarriage than during a typical menstrual period. This is thought to pose an increased risk of developing a uterine infection or toxic shock syndrome.

Though there isn't conclusive research supporting the recommendation to avoid tampons, to err on the side of caution, it's best to choose pads for miscarriage-related bleeding.Here's why it's a good idea to follow your physician's advice before inserting tampons after an early pregnancy loss.

Overview of Early Pregnancy Loss

The risk of infection may vary based on your individual situation. For instance, after a chemical pregnancy, any added risk of tampon use is probably quite low, especially considering that most chemical pregnancies go unnoticed.

Usually, the first sign of an early pregnancy loss is bleeding and cramping. To diagnose a miscarriage, your doctor will start with a physical exam. An ultrasound to check for a heartbeat and a blood test to measure levels of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) can help confirm the miscarriage.

Once a miscarriage is confirmed, further treatment may be required to remove remaining fetal tissue. Infection and excessive bleeding are risks of treatment, although serious complications are unlikely. Surgical and nonsurgical options are available in most cases.

If a dilation and curettage (D&C) procedure is performed as a part of treatment for a miscarriage, tampons should always be avoided afterward due to an elevated risk of infection.

Uterine Infections

The technical term for the uterus is the endometrium. Uterine infections are called endometritis (not to be confused with endometriosis). Multiple strains of bacteria may be responsible for uterine infections, including:

  • Chlamydia
  • Gonorrhea
  • Normal vaginal bacteria
  • Tuberculosis

Bacteria can travel from the vagina to the uterus during a miscarriage, childbirth, or the placement of an intrauterine device (IUD). After a miscarriage, any pregnancy tissue left behind can be a breeding ground for bacteria.

Tampons potentially trap this bacteria, creating an environment for it to grow and spread. To diagnose a uterine infection, your doctor may do a biopsy, measure your white blood cell counts, or use a microscope to examine discharge.

When left untreated, a uterine infection can lead to more serious complications, such as sepsis or infertility. If you notice the following symptoms after a miscarriage, you should let your doctor know right away:

  • Abdominal swelling
  • Constipation or changes in bowel movements
  • Excessive bleeding or discharge
  • Fever
  • Nausea

Treatment for uterine infections may include antibiotics, intravenous fluids, and rest.

Toxic Shock Syndrome

Besides infection, the main concern with using tampons after a miscarriage is the risk of toxic shock syndrome (TSS), a serious condition related to prolonged tampon use. In TSS, bacteria enter the bloodstream and spread to other organs throughout the body. In severe cases, extremities may need to be amputated.

Individuals with a compromised immune system, diabetes, or other chronic health issues are more vulnerable to the dangers of TSS. A recent miscarriage, childbirth, or abortion are all considered risk factors for toxic shock syndrome.

Toxic shock syndrome is characterized by fever and shock. The shock is severe and results in the shutdown of organs, and if left untreated, death.

Some symptoms of toxic shock syndrome include:

  • Confusion
  • Diarrhea
  • High fever
  • Kidney failure
  • Liver failure
  • Muscle aches
  • Nausea
  • Rash that occurs about 2 weeks after initial infection and affects the palms and soles of the feet
  • Redness of eyes and throat
  • Vomiting

Diagnosis

To diagnose TSS, blood tests may be used to check liver function, clotting times, blood cell counts, electrolyte levels, and the presence of microorganisms. Urine tests and spinal fluid can also be checked for bacteria.

Treatment

Treatment of toxic shock syndrome occurs in the ICU. Care may include the following:

  • Antibiotics
  • Dialysis to treat kidney failure
  • Drainage of any infected sites
  • Gamma globulin (in severe cases)
  • Intravenous fluids
  • Removal of any foreign bodies (like a tampon)

A Word From Verywell

Miscarriage is a traumatic, heartbreaking experience, which can be exacerbated by the days of bleeding that follow. It's understandable to want to use tampons to deal with this stage. However, to protect your health and prevent infection, avoid tampon use until your doctor advises that it's safe to use them again. For support in dealing with pregnancy loss, seek counseling from a qualified therapist.

Was this page helpful?
7 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Early pregnancy loss. Updated February 2020.

  2. Michigan Medicine, University of Michigan. Miscarriage. Updated May 29, 2019.

  3. Annan JJ, Gudi A, Bhide P, Shah A, Homburg R. Biochemical pregnancy during assisted conception: A little bit pregnantJ Clin Med Res. 2013;5(4):269-274. doi:10.4021/jocmr1008w

  4. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Early pregnancy loss. Updated February 2020.

  5. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Dilation and curettage. Updated June 2020.

  6. MedlinePlus. Endometritis. Updated November 3, 2020.

  7. John Hopkins Medicine. Toxic shock syndrome (TSS).