People who are into sports usually care about their healthy and physical as well as mental well-being. Therefore, they exercise regularly and are very careful when it comes to their nutrition, wanting only the best for their organism. Their lifestyles are the same, promoting health, almost never drinking alcoholic beverages or smoking. However, women who are into sports may develop a problem called female athlete triad.
The Female Athlete Triad
This condition is an umbrella term for three different conditions. Basically, eating disorder amenorrhea and osteoporosis, binded together form the female athlete triad. Female athletes are known to be capable of suffering from one, two or three conditions from the triad.
Parts of the Female Athlete Triad
Female athletes often desire to lose more and more of their weight, improving their performance this way. However, this can lead to eating disorders and health problems like anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. Both of these conditions can be extremely dangerous or even life-threatening if not treated timely.
As for the amenorrhea, it is a condition which stems from hormonal changes taking place due to excessive exercising of a female athlete. Basically, these hormonal changes affect one's menstrual cycle, resulting in missed periods or lack of periods altogether. Once pregnancy is ruled out, amenorrhea is commonly diagnosed in an athlete, if the symptoms are present. In fact, some girls who are into sports from their earliest years do not even get their first period due to the fact that they have been training so hard. Changes in nutrition and lifestyle may trigger amenorrhea in girls who have had normal periods beforehand.
Finally, poor nutrition, combined with low estrogen levels, may lead to osteoporosis. This condition manifests through loss of bone quality and strength, as well as density. Bone malformations may also appear, seriously jeopardizing the female athlete's career.
Risk Factors for Female Athlete Triad
Most commonly, girls who participate in sports where classification depends on weight such as martial arts and rowing are the most endangered group when it comes to female athlete triad. Also, all sports where females may experience pressure of competition, family, coaches and other factors, forcing them to workout harder and eat less, all may lead to the female athlete triad.
Signs, Symptoms and Treatment
Absence of periods, injuries and fractures, tiredness and concentration issues and muscle injuries, all can be signs of this condition. Also, female athletes on a strict diet, having brittle hair and nails, being very sensitive to cold and prone to teeth decay, low heart rate and blood pressure, arrhythmia and chest pain, all may be suffering from female athlete triad.
Since this health problem stems from the mind of the female athlete, she will not find help at the doctor's. Rather, coaches, parents, therapists, pediatricians and adolescent medicine specialists all need to work together in order to help a female athlete overcome this condition.