Preparticipation physical examination: selected issues for the female athlete

Clin J Sport Med. 2004 May;14(3):153-60. doi: 10.1097/00042752-200405000-00008.


Objective: The purpose of this article was to examine the preparticipation examination (PPE) with regard to the female athlete. Ever-increasing participation of women in competitive sport has created a requirement for more gender-specific sport medicine knowledge. In particular, physicians and other health care professionals should be aware of the triad of disordered eating, amenorrhea (and other menstrual dysfunction), and osteoporosis (or altered bone mineral density) collectively described as the female athlete triad. Suggested additions to the standard PPE may help identify athletes at risk. DATA SOURCES/METHODS: A literature search was carried out using MEDLINE for years 1966 to 2003, with keywords female athlete triad, PPE, female athlete, eating disorders, amenorrhea, and osteoporosis. Further studies were identified through reference lists.

Results: Better recognition and prevention of these problems is essential. At present, there is little evidence-based information available to guide the practicing clinician in this area. It remains to be determined which methods are the most sensitive and specific for detecting the triad disorders, as well as the most economical and time-efficient.

Conclusions: The PPE offers an excellent opportunity to screen for these entities, as well to initiate early treatment. It is recommended that a standardized form (or part of the form) be developed for the female athlete.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amenorrhea / diagnosis
  • Amenorrhea / epidemiology
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / diagnosis
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Osteoporosis / diagnosis
  • Osteoporosis / epidemiology
  • Physical Examination*
  • Sports*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires