You don’t have to be an athlete to develop the female athlete triad. The triad includes amenorrhea (no periods), osteoporosis, and eating disorders. If you over-train for too long, you are at risk of developing the triad. Don’t turn your body into a total wreck in your quest for weight loss or fitness. The purpose of exercise is to make you more healthy and fit.
I have a friend who has begun to develop stress fractures from over-training and under-eating. She also runs in many races like half marathons and marathons. I have mentioned to her that she is “way to skinny!” Declining health is the warning sign for anyone in an exercise program.
Health risks develop when women use extreme training methods and lose too much weight. "It is generally not dangerous for women to train for and run in marathons, as long as proper nutrition is maintained and precautions are taken," says Michael Lu, MD, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the UCLA School of Medicine.
"The greatest potential gynecologic risks of marathon training for women, involve amenorrhea (no periods), osteoporosis, and disordered eating, in what is commonly called the female athlete triad.”
According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMSD), some female athletes see amenorrhea as a sign of successful training. That is not the case. Missing your period can be a sign of decreased estrogen levels which can lead to osteoporosis.
According to NIAMSD, females should look for these warning signs when it comes to exercise and overtraining:
–Missed or irregular menstrual periods.
–Extreme or “unhealthy-looking” thinness.
–Extreme or rapid weight loss.
–Behaviors that reflect frequent dieting, such as eating very little, not eating in front of others, trips to the bathroom following meals, preoccupation with thinness or weight, focus on low-calorie and diet foods, possible increase in the consumption of water and other no- and low-calorie foods and beverages, possible increase in gum chewing, limiting diet to one food group, or eliminating a food group.