The Role of Oxygen in Toxic Shock Syndrome

Med Hypotheses. 1988 Nov;27(3):215-6. doi: 10.1016/0306-9877(88)90145-4.


The etiology of toxic shock syndrome (TSS) has been extensively investigated in recent years. It is generally accepted that the causative organism is Staphylococcus aureus. Certain strains of this bacterium produce one or more toxins which are thought to be responsible for the symptoms associated with TSS. There is no general agreement, however, as to why menstruating women who use tampons are of particular risk for developing this disease. More recently, TSS has also been associated with the use of absorbent contraceptive sponges. In this paper I will present evidence that the introduction of oxygen into the vaginal cavity during tampon insertion is responsible in part for the development of TSS. Furthermore, I will discuss several methods for the safe removal of this exogenous oxygen.

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Menstrual Hygiene Products / adverse effects
  • Models, Biological*
  • Oxygen / metabolism*
  • Shock, Septic / etiology*
  • Staphylococcal Infections / etiology
  • Vagina / metabolism


  • Oxygen