The Female athlete triad is the cycle of disordered eating, lack of menstrual cycle, leading to poor bone health. It is commonly seen in distance running and many times it can cause career ending results due to chronic injury and reoccurring stress fractures, leading to osteoporosis.
Belle Lap is here to inform you of the brief facts so that you can make decisions to have a happy and healthy running career.
We will be going into more detail about bone health and the female athlete triad later this week, talking with an expert PHD student focusing her studies on bone health and athletes.
What is the female athlete triad?
Disordered eating and inadequate calorie intake: (this includes intensional and unintentional lack of calorie consumption)
The female athlete triad is a condition that develops from limited energy consumption. If you are not fueling your body with enough energy/ eating enough food, have rapid weight loss or have disordered eating then this could negatively affect your running performance, could cause bone injuries and may potentially end a future long term running career.
-lack of estrogen
-decrease in hormones that regulate menstrual cycle
Your body will inform you that you are not eating enough or at a healthy weight by cutting off important natural female processes like your menstrual cycle as it goes into survival mode. Your metabolism will slow down and your body will start to process the calorie intake in a different way.
If you cannot remember the last time you had a period, or you get less than 4 periods a year then that is a strong indication that a dexor or bone scan may be necessary.
Low estrogen and poor nutrition (lack of calcium)
Loss of bone density
The female athlete triad isn’t the cause of all stress fractures, but over time when you are not eating enough and your body is low in estrogen it causes your bone health to suffer. Bones become brittle and easily fractured. Over time your body usually can’t keep up with its normal training load and starts to breakdown. The reoccurring stress fracture cycle can put athletes out of commission for months or years down the line. Being diagnosed with osteoporosis is tough for any athlete to hear in their twenties, work with your general physician or nutritionist to take steps to making your bones and body healthy and strong again.