Can You Use Tampons After an Early Miscarriage?

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Physicians traditionally advise against the use of tampons during miscarriage bleeding. The reason for this recommendation is that the cervix may be dilated more than during a typical menstrual period, and theoretically, tampons use during a miscarriage might pose an increased risk of developing a uterine infection or toxic shock syndrome (a rare but potentially fatal type of infection).

Overview

There aren't any studies documenting an increased risk of an infection specifically attributable to the use of tampons after a miscarriage, or providing details for this recommendation. It's possible that the risk might vary in different situations.

After a chemical pregnancy, for example, it's likely that any added risk of tampon use would be quite low—especially considering that most chemical pregnancies probably occur unnoticed. But again, there's no data available.

Recommendations

To err on the side of caution, however, it's best to follow the traditional advice and choose pads for the miscarriage-related bleeding. If you feel strongly about using tampons versus pads, discuss the matter with your doctor. Your doctor can help you decide what's best for your situation.

If you do decide to use tampons after a very early miscarriage, your doctor can make sure you are informed of the warning signs of infection and know what to do if you might develop symptoms.

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

Toxic Shock Syndrome

Toxic shock syndrome (TSS) is a serious condition that can occur after prolonged tampon use. In fact, toxic shock syndrome was first observed among women who used tampons. With better education around safe tampon use, less than 50% of toxic shock syndrome is caused by tampons today. Instead, most cases of toxic shock syndrome are caused by skin infections, burns, and surgery.

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

Toxic shock syndrome is caused by Staphylococcus bacteria. However, not all Staph bacteria cause toxic shock. Of note, a similar condition called toxic-shock-like syndrome occurs after infection with Streptococcus bacteria.

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

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)

Toxic shock syndrome kills about half of the people that it affects. Even in those who survive the infection, long-term sequelae, or consequences, can occur, including heart and kidney damage.

A Word From Verywell

Miscarriage is a traumatic, heartbreaking experience for many women, which can be exacerbated by having to cope with days of bleeding after it occurs. It's very understandable to want to use tampons to deal with this stage. However, to protect your health and prevent infection, it's important to avoid tampon use during this time and opting instead for pads (disposable or reusable) or menstrual underwear.

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  1. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Toxic shock syndrome.

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