There are health risks to all the different feminine hygiene products. Image: iStock.
There are health risks to all the different feminine hygiene products. Image: iStock.

Tragic reason mother-of-three needed both feet amputated

36-year old mother-of-three, Sandrine Graneau explains how unclear messaging on the packet led to a life-threatening infection.

In recent years, menstrual cups have been in the spotlight for all the right reasons.

Not only are they a budget-friendly way to deal with your periods (one cup may initially cost up to $50, but will last between five and 10 years), but menstrual cups are also environmentally friendly.

Sounds good right?  

They're also popular on the internet, with those women who've converted to using a menstrual cup often being evangelical about the benefits. Women like body+soul writer, Lou Blair, raved about her experience after using "gross" tampons for years.

"Forget menstrual cups, TAMPONS are disgusting!" she exclaimed.  

With positive reviews like the above, it's very tempting to ditch the tampons for good.  

And up until now there wasn't serious concerns associated with the use of the little cups. In fact, they were considered better for your health, with no looming health risks such as Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS).

A 2019 study by Lancet Public Health backed this up, by determining that menstrual cups are a safe and effective method for females.  

These studies haven't been proven wrong, but a recent incident has made a French woman a double amputee at the age of 36, and left menstrual cup fans concerned for their health.

 

How can a menstrual cup cause Toxic Shock Syndrome?

After an infection caused by her menstrual cup spread quickly to her internal organs, Sandrine Graneau from western France, underwent an operation to amputate both her feet and parts of her fingers.

The terrifying incident left the mother-of-three in intensive care for three weeks in April, 2019.

Graneau, a nurse herself, said that the main cause of the unfortunate event was TSS and blamed the unclear packaging of the menstrual cup for the mishap. Just like a tampon, menstrual cups cannot be left in for extended periods (pardon the pun).

According to her, there was no certain indication of how long she should keep the cup in her vagina, before it needed to be removed. The 36-year-old survivor can't recall how long she kept the cup in for, but guesses it was only a couple of hours - which was long enough to trigger TSS.

In general, TSS is a rare infection but it can be life-threatening. It happens when naturally grown bacteria in the vagina, Staphylococcus aureus, enters the bloodstream and the toxin spreads.

Following this toxic shock, a person will begin to feel rapidly unwell and needs to be treated ASAP.  

In Graneau's case, her pain started slowly in her stomach. She was immediately rushed to hospital after her pain intensified and caused her blood pressure to plummet.  

'It is not so much the bacteria that are dangerous as the damage it causes to the organs.' Graneau explained to French newspaper Le Parisien.  

When the toxins had spread to her lungs, liver and kidney, the doctors made the life-altering decision to amputate parts of her limb to prevent her vital organs from the infection.  

For the Graneau, it's been a long nine months. She is now undergoing rehab and learning to walk with prosthetics.

Just like a tampon the menstrual cup needs to be taken out often.
Just like a tampon the menstrual cup needs to be taken out often.

Be vigilant about the risks of feminine hygiene products

It's important to keep in mind that TSS cases like Graneau's are rare and not usually linked to menstrual cups.  

TSS is mainly associated with the prolonged use of tampons, and unfortunate cases still exist. In 2018, TSS made the headlines when model Lauren Wasser had her right leg amputated due to TSS caused by her tampon.  

To prevent TSS when using tampons there are preventative measures you can take such as storing them in dry places and not doubling up on them.  

Just like any other health product, it's good to use feminine hygiene items with care to prevent disastrous consequences.  

This article originally appeared in Body and Soul and has been reproduced here with permission.