Send to

Choose Destination
Yale J Biol Med. 2011 Dec;84(4):447-59.

Rely and Toxic Shock Syndrome: a technological health crisis.

Author information

Department of Gender and Women's Studies, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, Illinois 61820, USA.


This essay examines factors leading to the identification of Toxic Shock Syndrome with the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus in 1978 and the specific role of Rely tampons in generating a technologically rooted health crisis. The concept biologically incompatible technology is offered to explain the relationship between constituent bacteria, women's menstrual cycles, and a reactive technology that converged to create the ideal environment for the S. aureus bacteria to live and flourish in some women. The complicated and reactive relationship of the Rely tampon to emergent disease, corporate interests, public health, and injury law reveals the dangers of naturalizing technologies.


CDC-1; CDC-2; James Todd; Jeffrey Davis; Kathy Shands; Kehm v. Proctor & Gamble; Medical Device Amendments; Nancy Buc; Philip Tierno; Proctor & Gamble; Staphylococcus aureus; Tom Riley; Toxic Shock Syndrome; Tri-State TSS Study; biologically incompatible technology; menstrual hygiene; tampon

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center