A woman who developed toxic shock syndrome after using a menstrual cup has had to have her feet and parts of her fingers amputated. 36-year-old Sandrine Graneau from France told Le Parisien newspaper she wore her menstrual cup – a silicone device in a funnel shape, which is inserted into the vagina to collect period blood – for ‘several hours’ towards the end of her period last April.
Later that day, she recalled experiencing light pains, which quickly intensified. Doctors initially believed Sandrine was suffering from kidney stones, but the following morning, when her blood pressure dropped dangerously low, she was admitted into hospital and diagnosed with toxic shock syndrome (TSS).
What is TSS?
TSS is described by the NHS as ‘a rare but life-threatening condition caused by bacteria getting into the body and releasing harmful toxins’. It’s known to be caused by tampons, but it is not widely known that menstrual cups appear to hold the same risk.
Sandrine believes this lack of knowledge – as well as the confusing information among different menstrual cup manufacturers – contributed towards the onset of this life-altering condition. ‘The information we are given varies. The instructions [say] that we can keep them in for 4, 6, 8 or 12 hours,’ she told the newspaper. Sandrine questioned why one clear and concise set of instructions is not used across the board with manufacturers, like it is with tampons. NHS advice is to change tampons regularly, usually at least every 4 to 8 hours.
Following her admission to hospital, Sandrine’s condition worsened dramatically. ‘It is not so much the bacteria that’s dangerous, as the damage it causes to the organs. The toxin spread to my kidneys, my lungs, my liver,’ she told Le Parisien. The mother-of-three was sent to intensive care, where she remained for three weeks.
While she eventually came round, Sandrine tragically had to undergo amputation as part of the effort to save her. The 36-year-old lost both her feet, which were covered in sores, as well as parts of her fingers. Due to so much dead tissue having been damaged by the toxins, surgeons had to cut 18 bones out of her hand. Thankfully, they were able to save one bone in each finger, allowing her some use of her extremities.
As a result of her ordeal, Sandrine has set up an organisation, Dans Mes Baskets (which translates to ‘In My Sneakers’) which aims to provide financial support to people who have had amputations as a result of toxic shock syndrome, as well as raising awareness about the condition.
Symptoms of Toxic Shock Syndrome
According to the NHS, symptoms of TSS start suddenly and worsen quickly. Symptoms include:
- A high temperature
- Flu-like symptoms, such as a headache, feeling cold, feeling tired or exhausted, an aching body, a sore throat and a cough
- Feeling and being sick
- A widespread sunburn-like rash
- Lips, tongue and the whites of the eyes turning a bright red
- Dizziness or fainting
- Difficulty breathing
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan UK
Read more health