The female athlete triad: causes, diagnosis, and treatment

Phys Sportsmed. 1996 Jul;24(7):67-86. doi: 10.3810/psm.1996.07.1407.


The female athlete triad of disordered eating, amenorrhea, and osteoporosis affects women and girls in many sports, but the messages conveyed to those in "appearance" sports like gymnastics may play a role. Because the triad may result in irreversible bone loss and death, early detection is imperative. Friends, parents, coaches, and physicians can be alert to behaviors like eating alone, trips to the bathroom during or after meals, and the use of laxatives. Other signs and symptoms of the female athlete triad may include fatigue, anemia, depression, cold intolerance, lanugo, and eroded tooth enamel from frequent vomiting. Multidisciplinary treatment typically involves education, determining contributing factors, restoring adequate nutrition, and prescribing estrogen therapy when appropriate.