- Low Energy Availability with or without an eating disorder,
- Menstrual Dysfunction and
- Low Bone Mineral Density.
Although there are 3 components to the Female Athletes Triad, only one is needed to make the diagnosis. Long term risks include diminished athletic performance, osteoporosis and fracture, as well as psychological effects if an eating disorder is present. There are many factors that can lead to the triad, but often times they come from external factors and societal norms. Unfortunately, in this day and age many women (both young and old) are consumed with poor self-image and weight control behaviors. Frequent weigh-ins, controlling parents or coaches, pressure for an ideal body/low weight (ex. Gymnastics, figure skating, ballet, distance running) and social isolation caused by intense sport involvement are all external factors that may contribute to the development of the triad. Combine those with intense training schedules, lack of nutritional and diet knowledge, stress from sport, and little to no rest, you have the perfect storm to develop the Female Athlete Triad.
Signs and Symptoms
- Weight loss
- Absent or irregular periods
- Chronic fatigue
- Stress fracture
- Compulsive exercise
- Increased infections and illnesses
- Decreased ability to recover from injuries
- Abnormal eating habits or disorders
- Impaired athletic performance
- Reduced muscle mass
The next post will be more on the specifics of the Triad - stay tuned!
~ Alex Wojcichowsky, Physiotherapist
1. Nattiv, A., Loucks, A. B., Manore, M. M., Sanborn, C. F., Sundgot-Borgen, J., Warren, M. P., & American College of Sports Medicine (2007). American College of Sports Medicine position stand. The female athlete triad. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 39(10), 1867–1882. https://doi.org/10.1249/mss.0b013e318149f111
2. Female Athlete Triad. (2020, August 13). Physiopedia, . Retrieved 04:41, September 9, 2020 from https://www.physio-pedia.com/index.php?title=Female_Athlete_Triad&oldid=245810.
3. Loveless, M. B. (2017). Female athlete triad. Current Opinion in Obstetrics and Gynecology, 29(5), 301-305.
4. Hobart, J. A., & Smucker, D. R. (2000). The female athlete triad. American family physician, 61(11), 3357-3364.
5. NCAA coach handbook: Managing the Female Athlete Triad. https://athletewellness.uncg.edu/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Coaches-Handbook.pdf