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Female Athlete Triad: Amenorrhea, Osteoporosis and Eating Disorders

By HERWriter
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disorders making up the female athlete triad iStockphoto/Thinkstock

In 1993, the American College of Sports Medicine first spoke up officially about the female athlete triad. This is no sports event.

It is a combination of three disorders that most often affects females, though any woman or girl can fall prey to it.

The three markers are disordered eating, osteoporosis, and amenorrhea (absence of menstrual periods). Just one or two of these markers can health problems that can become severe.

According to a Medscape article, this triad has probably existed since the first time females ever went overboard with exercising and watching their weight.

In 2007, the ACSM redefined amenorrhea to include a range from "eumenorrhea" to the other end extreme of "functional hypothalamic amenorrhea".

Disordered eating was also put on a spectrum, ranging from "optimal energy availability" to "low energy availability with or without an eating disorder".

Osteoporosis was expanded to cover a range from "osteoporosis" to "optimal bone health".

The basic problem, according to the ACSM in 2007, is one of energy availability.

No matter how much the other two health issues might improve, if the energy availability was not brought into balance, there is no recovery from the female athlete triad.

If left untreated, the condition can become more severe after menopause.

Disordered eating, according to Orthoinfo.AAOS.org, is abnormal eating habits including crash diets and binge eating, along with extreme exercising preventing sufficient nutrition to take place.

Orthoinfo.AAOS.org also addressed the subject of menstrual function, describing this condition as the end of menstrual periods because of a combination of low calorie intake, high stress, or low body fat, intense physical demands, inadequate nutrition.

Amenorrhea that is not treated and resolved can cause premature osteoporosis (low bone density at an early age).

The pressure to be thin and beautiful is intense for female athletes, especially in sports such as figure skating and gymnastics.

Their appearance is judged and approved or disapproved, under a microscope by the public and in the media.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.



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