Female Triad: Find Symptoms Early
Female triad is when an athlete has three health conditions: eating problems, lack of menstruation and weak bones. Medical experts no longer believe all three health conditions need to exist to cause health problems later in life. Any of these health problems can occur when an athlete doesn’t get enough calories for the amount of physical activity they’re doing. Without treatment, an athlete can have reproductive, bone and cardiovascular health problems.
A new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics outlines screening guidelines for physicians.
Teenage athletes need careful scrutiny because this is the age when they build bone mass, according to the AAP. Without proper nutrition and bone mass development, teen athletes may have bone density issues when they’re older.
Girls who participate in certain sports face a greater risk, as well. Cheerleading, gymnastics, running, dancing and figure skating make the list because they emphasize leanness and endurance. Other risk factors include: specializing in one sport at an early age, dieting, family problems and abuse.
Female Triad Symptoms
The AAP report says it’s important to watch out for any signs of female triad. Symptoms often appear long before doctors make a diagnosis.
- lack of menstruation
- reduced bone mass density
- eating too few calories for physical exertion
- decreased heart health
The AAP recommends screening for the female triad during well-check ups with a health provider. Athletes should be asked if they worry about their weight and their eating habits. Other questions assess menstruation and whether an athlete has had a stress fracture.
Source: American Academy of Pediatrics
+ Do you or an athlete in your family need help with nutrition? Our Registered Dietitians can help create an individualized eating plan to fuel the body’s caloric needs.