The pressures of competition can often run deep for female athletes. Aside from your typical podium finish or achieving a personal best the female athlete triad brings a seriousness to an athletes long term health.
A syndrome of three interrelated conditions of energy deficiency, bone loss, and menstrual disturbances the female athlete triad is most prominent in “aesthetic” sports such as cheerleading, diving, and gymnastics.
“Problems are seen when athletes start to restrict their caloric intake or excessively exercise to the point of sever weightless,” says Marie Custead, dietetic intern for Memorial Hermann Ironman Sports Medicine Institute.
“If not controlled or corrected the female athlete can face osteoporosis and reproductive dysfunctions later in life.”
Most alarming is the syndrome can begin during the formative years of high school as the athlete starts to develop their competitive drive.
Early signs of female athlete triad can include eating disorder, stress factors, and irregular menstrual cycles, and weight loss or low body mass index (BMI).
“Female athlete triad needs to be discussed and educated within the parental and coaching support group of female athletes,” says Custead.
For more information on Sport Nutrition and Diets contact Brett Singer MS, RD, CSCS, LD of the Memorial Hermann IRONMAN Sports Medicine Institue of Houston.