Sanitary safety

10th March 1995 at 00:00
Tampons and Toxic Shock Syndrome, Age group: 12-16 Video (20 mins) and teaching notes, Pounds 24.95 incl pp. Curriculum Support and Development Service, Curriculum Development Centre, Temple Road, Dewsbury, West Yorkshire WF13. Just as we have health warnings on cigarette packets, an increasing number of people think that there should be similar warnings on tampon packets about the dangers of toxic shock syndrome. They argue for more research into and education about it.

A Tampon Safety Bill is calling for the standardisation of tampon absorbency. Last year, three women are known to have died from TSS, but numbers are almost certainly higher.

Although TSS affects few women, two-thirds of cases affect the under-25s. Isn't it time to educate young women about the risks? A new video from Kirklees Curriculum Support and Development Service aims to raise awareness and trigger discussion of the topic for 12 to 16 year olds, males as well as females. It has sections dealing with basic information about TSS what it is, the symptoms, the treatment and the attitudes of doctors. It also gives advice on how to prevent it changing tampons regularly, not using them overnight, using low-absorbency ones, etc.

Although the makers say that the video isn't designed "to frighten or to discourage tampon use", I certainly have doubts about using it directly with girls of 12-13 years, who may not be confident about using sanitary protection anyway. The tone of much of the video is quite medical and could be quite scary in parts, despite obvious attempts to liven it up.

Older girls could probably cope with it better, particularly if used by a knowledgeable and confident teacher or health professional. Young women do need information about TSS, but there should be an approach in favour of information giving and away from frightening people. Teachers and health professionals delivering sex education in schools would certainly be informed by seeing this video. The users' notes are scanty, however, and need supplementing.

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