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What is Female Athlete Triad Syndrome?

Female athlete triad syndrome is a grouping of three disorders commonly seen in female athletes. The disorders that make up this condition are:

  • Amenorrhea, which is the abnormal absence of menstruation
  • Osteoporosis, a disorder in which the bones become fragile, increasing the risk of fractures
  • Disordered eating

Causes of Female Athlete Triad Syndrome

Female athlete triad syndrome is mainly caused by an energy imbalance in the body due to poor nourishment and high activity levels. This imbalance causes excess fatigue, irregular menstruation, and ultimately bone loss. 

Risk Factors for Female Athlete Triad Syndrome

Females who are at risk for developing this condition include:

  • Highly competitive athletes
  • Those partaking in sports that require them to maintain a certain weight
  • Those who exercise excessively
  • Those obsessed with a thin body image
  • Those suffering from depression
  • Athletes who are pressured by parents or coaches to win at all costs

Symptoms of Female Athlete Triad Syndrome

The various signs and symptoms associated with the female athlete triad syndrome include:

  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Bone loss
  • Absent or abnormal periods
  • Stress fractures
  • Fasting or limiting food intake
  • Binge eating
  • Self-induced vomiting

Diagnosis of Female Athlete Triad Syndrome

You should contact your doctor if your symptoms are consistent with female athlete triad syndrome. Your doctor will discuss your symptoms, menstrual cycle, eating habits, and exercise routine, and conduct a physical examination. Your doctor may also inquire if you are on certain medications like diet pills, laxatives, or birth control.

Treatment of Female Athlete Triad Syndrome

Your treatment may involve nutritional counseling, following a healthy diet, reducing activity, and medical management if necessary. Appropriate and timely interventions can prevent the irreversible bone mass loss, promote the resumption of normal menstruation, and prevent serious complications due to eating disorders.

Prevention of Female Athlete Triad Syndrome

Steps to avoid female athlete triad syndrome include the following:

  • Eating a well-balanced, nutrient-rich diet
  • Exercising in moderation
  • Getting plenty of rest
  • Finding ways to reduce stress

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