The nation is currently experiencing a supply shortage of tampons and that is raising new health concerns. One mother who lives with the heartbreak of losing her daughter wants to warn other women. Karen Hensel has tonight’s 7 Investigates.
The proof of the nationwide tampon shortage can be seen on store shelves across South Florida. 7 Investigates repeatedly found low supply signs reading “limit two” and in some cases completely empty shelves.
Dr. Delisa Skeete-Henry, Broward Health: “So the concern is that with the shortage, women may choose to keep a tampon in longer than we recommend.”
And that could result in some women suffering from menstrual toxic shock syndrome, a highly dangerous and potentially deadly bacterial infection.
Dawn Massabni, Maddy’s Mom: “Karen, Maddy was so full of life, so much energy. She loved the beach.”
That love brought Maddy to South Florida, so she could study fashion at Lynn University in Boca Raton. But in 2017, the 19-year-old flew home to New Jersey for her birthday. She was having her period and began feeling sick.
Dawn Massabni: “That night she’s like, ‘Mom, I really don’t feel well, you know, can I sleep with you?’ She got sick again, her fever, you know, seemed a little bit warmer.”
Maddy’s mom Dawn planned to take her to the doctor, but when she went to wake her the next morning…
Dawn Massabni: “All of a sudden, she began to have a seizure in my arms. She just starts to close her eyes and I say, ‘Maddy, please don’t leave. Mommy, I love you, I love you. Please don’t leave me, I love you.'”
Maddy died just hours after her birthday.
Dawn Massabni: “So the moment from her first symptom of vomiting, to the moment she passed away at home, was just 36 hours.”
Dr. Delisa Skeete-Henry, an OBGYN at Broward Health Medical Center, said there are easy ways to use a tampon safely.
Dr. Delisa Skeete-Henry: “On average, the recommendation is to change your tampon every four to six hours.”
And it’s important to use the right tampon size.
Dr. Delisa Skeete-Henry: “Don’t use a bigger or heavier tampon thinking that you can extend the use.”
Toxic shock syndrome is often misdiagnosed as the flu, so if you feel sick, and are having your period, it’s important to see a doctor.
Dr. Delisa Skeete-Henry: “When you insert your tampon, you can get micro-tears in the vaginal mucosa, and if you get these micro tears, the bacteria can infiltrate into these tears and get into the blood system.”
Maddy’s mom is now on a mission to educate young women. She and Maddy’s brother founded the non-profit foundation Don’t Shock Me.
While there are warnings about toxic shock syndrome on boxes of tampons, she has asked the FDA to include a bigger warning also on the inside of the box.
Dawn Massabni: “So that every time you take a tampon out, your mind and eyes are geared to this.”
Maddy’s brother George told 7News he is warning others about toxic shock syndrome for two reasons: his sister was his best friend, but he also believes it is important for men to learn and talk about it, that men have wives, mothers, daughters and sisters to protect.
Karen Hensel, 7News
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