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What Are the Signs of a Tampon Infection?

Nicole Madison
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Signs of a tampon infection usually include abnormal discharge, a bad smell from the vagina, and vaginal itching and irritation. Some people with this kind of infection also develop aches and pains that affect their muscles as well as pain and a heavy feeling in the abdomen and pelvic areas. Additionally, fever, headache, dizziness, loose bowels, upset stomach, and skin rashes can develop in relation to infections caused by tampons.

One of the most common signs of a tampon infection is an abnormal vaginal discharge. This may involve a discharge that is thicker than normal or of an off color, such as yellow or green. Depending on how long a woman has kept the tampon in place and the severity of the infection, she may even notice a blackish discharge. Such signs usually warrant a doctor's examination and treatment. In the event that there is still a tampon, or part of it, in the vagina, a doctor can remove it as well.

An individual may also have a range of other vaginal symptoms when she has a tampon infection. For instance, she may notice itching and irritation in the area or a foul odor that emanates from this part of her body. Sexual activity could prove painful, or at the very least irritating, as well.

A tampon infection also can affect other parts of a woman's body. For example, she may notice that her abdomen feels sore and uncomfortable. She might also experience a feeling of pressure or discomfort in her pelvis. Some women also become dizzy or develop a fever because of this type of infection.

While any type of vaginal infection can prove serious and warrant a doctor's attention, toxic shock syndrome is a potentially deadly bacterial infection that requires swift medical treatment. This infection is associated with tampon use in women who choose high-absorbency tampons or do not change their tampons frequently enough, but it can develop for other reasons as well. For instance, some women develop it in relation to the use of birth control sponges.

High temperatures and headaches are among the most common symptoms of toxic shock syndrome. A person with this infection may also feel dizzy, develop muscle aches and pains, and notice a rash forming on her skin. Diarrhea and vomiting may occur as well.

It is important to note that although toxic shock syndrome is often referred to as a tampon infection, it can also develop in people who have never used tampons. Less often, a man or woman may develop it because of wounds that allow bacteria easy access into the body. Additionally, it can develop in a person who has a bacterial infection caused by Staphylococcus, which is capable of causing many different types of infections.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Nicole Madison
By Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a The Health Board writer, where she focuses on topics like homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. Her passion for knowledge is evident in the well-researched and informative articles she authors. As a mother of four, Nicole balances work with quality family time activities such as reading, camping, and beach trips.
Discussion Comments
By bear78 — On Jan 12, 2014

My tampon infection was worse. I had cramps, fever, nausea and a terrible stench. I would have had toxic shock syndrome if I wasn't given antibiotics in time.

By bluedolphin — On Jan 11, 2014

@SarahGen-- Wow that's so scary.

I think tampons are safer if they're used as they are intended. I think most tampon infections occur because women forget them inside. It has happened to me. I put in a tampon and completely forgot about it once. I realized that it was still inside after five days because of a foul smelling brown discharge.

I did see my doctor about it and thankfully, I didn't experience any serious side effects. But I'm sure I would have had major complications if the tampon had been left inside longer.

By SarahGen — On Jan 11, 2014

My best friend almost developed kidney failure because of a tampon infection. She had severe pain while urinating and severe pain in her back. She was hospitalized and they discovered that she has a kidney infection because of a vaginal infection. She had been using tampons and the doctor said that the infection was probably caused by the tampon. She was in the hospital on very strong antibiotics for a while.

This is why I never wear tampons. Pads are safer.

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a The Health Board writer, where she focuses on topics like...
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