Being a female athlete can be amazing and wonderfully rewarding. A lot of women are getting important opportunities to push themselves and overcome the milestones and challenges they set their mind to, and through this, help to motivate and inspire others by setting great examples. Female athletes start from a young age, and begin their journey to become a professional athlete during high school. There are many gifted and talented athletes in high school, and the pressure to excel starts at this point because of immense competition. Take, for example, girls who are a part of the cross country running team in their high school. They need to have a lean and muscular body to be able to run without too much hindrance. This leads to a lot of girls wanting to lose weight, which is eventually a common goal for a lot of female athletes. While this can be a good thing because it helps women to reach their peak performance, it can also lead to complications in the body.
What Is The Triad?
While sports and exercise are an important facet of a healthy life, they can also be detrimental if done too much. A lot of women, in an effort to lose weight, might exercise excessively while eating very little, and this can lead to dangerous complications. The tried consists of three components: disordered eating which could be due to an eating disorder (though not necessarily), amenorrhea and low bone density, which could result in osteoporosis.
1. Disordered Eating
As mentioned before, an athlete tries to lose weight because she wants to improve her performance. In fact, for a lot of sports, even coaches encourage girls to lose weight so that they can perform optimally. While it is necessary to be lean and thin to perform better, it can get out of hand. The symptom is also known as energy imbalance because it does not provide the body with enough fuel to keep it functioning healthily for a person’s age. Girls not only count all the calories that they are eating, they also avoid foods that are deemed “bad”, such as foods that contain fat. This can help them to lose weight quickly and drastically, but it deprives the body of important nutrients and energy. Sometimes, the need to lose weight and maintain a lean body can be so strong that it can even lead to an eating disorder like anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa.
When the weight loss can get out of hand, it can lead to changes inside the body, such as hormonal and chemical changes. One of the most prominent symptoms of the triad is changes or complications in a girl’s period, also known as amenorrhea. The intense exercising and uneven food intake usually results in irregular period or the complete cessation of periods. While it is normal for a teen to miss her period now and then, it isn’t healthy for the cycle to always be irregular. Therefore, if you miss your period, it does not automatically mean that it is female athlete triad, but if it happens very often and you are an athlete in training, it might be time to see your doctor.
3. Low Bone Density
While the hormonal changes in the body do result in amenorrhea, it can also lead to lower bone density in women, which is commonly seen in older women who have hit menopause. Osteoporosis, or low bone density, develops when there is a drastic drop in the levels of estrogen that is produced in the body. Moreover, since diet is also affected, women might have low intake of calcium, which can lead to lowered bone density. This can result in athletes getting a fracture for a small injury that isn’t very significant, such as tripping over a rock (this is also known as a stress fracture). While these are dangerous risks, low done density during the teen years can also impact a girl’s overall health for her future. The teen years are an important time because girls need to build up their bone mass to the highest levels, and not being able to do this impacts bone health throughout her life.