Can You Sleep With a Tampon In?

If you're sleeping for no more than eight hours, sleeping with a tampon in does not increase your risk of toxic shock syndrome (TSS).

There are several options for managing your flow during your period. Tampons, pads, menstrual cups, period underwear. With all those options, you may wonder how often you should change your menstrual products. 

In particular, tampons are one of the most commonly used menstrual products. The Food and Drug Administration advises that to use tampons safely, you should change them every eight hours.

So, does that mean you can sleep with a tampon in? Here's what you should know about how often you should change a tampon to avoid toxic shock syndrome (TSS).

What Is Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS)?

If you use tampons while on your period, you've probably heard that it's best to take them out overnight to avoid toxic shock syndrome (TSS). TSS is a serious bacterial infection that causes symptoms like:

  • Confusion
  • Headaches
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • High fever, sometimes with chills
  • Muscle aches
  • Redness of eyes, mouth, throat
  • A red rash that looks like a sunburn
  • Low blood pressure
  • Organ failure, including kidney and liver failure
  • Seizures

However, TSS from using tampons is very rare. In fact, your odds of getting TSS are somewhere around one in 100,000. Still, you're not wrong about not leaving a tampon in too long. Keeping a tampon in for longer than the manufacturer recommends increases your risk of TSS.

At one time, the absorbency level may have been a risk factor. In fact, during the 1980s, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urged people not to use superabsorbent tampons. The CDC had found that those tampons—particularly Rely tampons, produced by Procter & Gamble—had the highest risk of TSS.

The synthetic materials that gave tampons their super-absorbency, including carboxymethyl cellulose (CMC) and polyester, increased the risk of TSS.

By 1989, the Food and Drug Administration required companies like Procter and Gamble to put labels detailing absorbency and sizes on tampon boxes. Those labels instructed people on how often they should change their tampons.

Also, by that time, manufacturers had stopped using CMC, polyester, and other dangerous synthetic materials in their tampons. As of 2023, tampons are made of cotton, rayon, or a blend of both. So, high-absorbency tampon options are now much, much safer than before.

How Long Can You Safely Leave in a Tampon?

Procter & Gamble advises changing your tampon every eight hours to reduce your risk of TSS. However, if you're bleeding heavily, you'll want to change your tampon more often than that.

Most often, one tampon lasts about four to six hours. If your tampon lasts less than four hours, you may need a bigger size. In contrast, if your tampon is dry after six hours, you may need a smaller size. On average, people use about three to six tampons daily during their periods.

Can You Sleep With a Tampon in?

Whether those eight hours fall during the day or at night doesn't make any difference. So, if you're sleeping for eight hours nightly, you can safely sleep with a tampon in.

However, if you're spending more than eight hours asleep, be on the safe side. Reach for a pad, menstrual cup, or a pair of extra-absorbent period panties, and save the tampons for the daytime. And naturally, you'll always want to remember to switch things up first thing in the morning.

A Quick Review

You can safely wear tampons for four to eight hours. So, you can use one while sleeping. But if you'll be sleeping longer than eight hours, use an alternative. Then, use a tampon when you're awake.

The chances of developing TSS when using tampons are very rare if you follow the manufacturer's directions. 

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Sources
Health.com uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. National Library of Medicine. Toxic shock syndrome.

  3. Ross A, Shoff HW. Toxic shock syndrome. In: StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing; 2022.

  4. Vostral S. Toxic shock syndrome, tampons and laboratory standard-settingCMAJ. 2017;189(20):E726-E728. doi:10.1503/cmaj.161479

  5. Vostral SL. Of Mice and (Wo)Men: Tampons, Menstruation, and Testing. In: Bobel C, Winkler IT, Fahs B, Hasson KA, Kissling EA, Roberts TA, eds. The Palgrave Handbook of Critical Menstruation Studies. Singapore: Palgrave Macmillan; July 25, 2020.673-686.

  6. Food and Drug Administration. CFR - code of federal regulations title 21.

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  8. Procter & Gamble. How long can you leave a tampon in?.

  9. Procter & Gamble. Which tampon sizes do you need? Know your flow.

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