The Female Athlete Triad: Could You Be At Risk?

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The Three Main Components
Of The Female Athlete Triad

1. Amenorrhea

Amenorrhea can be defined as the cessation of the menstrual cycle, after it had previously been somewhat regular, for three or more months in a row.

While some women may just be irregular, the key here is that they are not getting periods at all.

It can be slightly difficult to establish if this is your issue if you have always been irregular, but most often even those who are irregular will get at least one menstrual period of a three month cycle.

2. Eating Disorders

The second component of the female athlete triad is the presence of any one of the various eating disorders that are seen.

This could be anorexia, bulimia, binge-eating disorder, or an unclassified disorder (unhealthy relationship with food).

Remember to keep in mind here that one does not need to be fully starving themselves to have an eating disorder.

You could simply be feeling extreme amounts of guilt after even a small detour from your diet and this could classify you as having an eating disorder or unhealthy relationship with food.

3. Osteoporosis

Then, the third factor in this condition is osteoporosis. This factor particularly, is very detrimental to the woman as it could set her up to experience an increased risk of stress fractures or broken bones for the rest of her life.

Many women also start to remove dairy products from their diet as they believe it will cause weight gain and once again, this only further enhances the problem.

Additionally, this factor usually comes about because of the previous two factors.

In terms of what causes this condition to develop, there have been many research studies that have tried to determine just this and unfortunately there isn't once single precipitating factor, but rather, it's a combination of factors that seem to be at play.

First, usually what causes the condition to strike is that the individual is not consuming enough total daily calories.

What Causes The Female Athlete Triad

This seems to be the most important part of the equation; therefore, if you are hoping to avoid the development of these problems, eating enough is your best preventative mechanism..

The second thing that needs to be looked at is the woman's overall body composition. Women need so much fat on their bodies in order to function effectively.

When there is a lack of total body fat, problems occur, particularly with the reproductive system - as seen with the loss of the periods.

Finally, the third reason that this condition can develop is because of overexercising.

So, the three main points to watch out for are a loss of your periods, abnormal or unhealthy eating behaviors, and a workout schedule that allows you very little, if any rest at all.

If you are suffering from any of those, or a combination of them, you may want to speak to a professional (both medical and psychological), as all three are very interrelated, with the development of one often leading to the development of another.

If, on the other hand, you are already experiencing problems, then your first step is to cut back on the amount of exercise you are doing and your second step is to increase the amount of calories you are consuming.
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