The female athlete triad

Adolesc Med. 2003 Feb;14(1):87-95.

Abstract

The female athlete triad is a syndrome consisting of disordered eating, amenorrhea, and osteoporosis. The syndrome is increasing in prevalence as more women are participating in sports at a competitive level. Behaviors such as intense exercise or disordered eating patterns can lead to dysregulation of the hypothalamic-pituitarian-ovarian (HPO) axis, resulting in amenorrhea. Hypothalamic amenorrhea can lead to osteoporosis and increased fracture risk. Adolescents may particularly be at risk because it is during this crucial time that females attain their peak bone mass. Prevention of the female athlete triad through education and identification of athletes at risk may decrease the incidence of long-term deleterious consequences. Treatment of the female athlete triad is initially aimed at increasing caloric intake and decreasing physical activity until there is resumption of normal menses. Treatment of decreased bone mineral density and osteoporosis in the adolescent population, however, is controversial, with new treatment modalities currently being investigated in order to aid in the management of this disorder.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anorexia Nervosa / complications
  • Anorexia Nervosa / diagnosis
  • Anorexia Nervosa / etiology*
  • Anorexia Nervosa / physiopathology
  • Child
  • Diet, Reducing* / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypothalamo-Hypophyseal System / physiopathology
  • Pituitary-Adrenal System / physiopathology
  • Sports / physiology*