Update on the female athlete triad

Curr Rev Musculoskelet Med. 2013 Jun;6(2):195-204. doi: 10.1007/s12178-013-9168-9.


Updated prevalence estimates of all 3 components of the Female Athlete Triad, a syndrome characterized by low energy availability, functional hypothalamic amenorrhea, and osteoporosis, is low (0 %-16 %), however, estimates of 1 or 2 concurrent components approach 50 %-60 % among certain athlete groups. Recent research identifies components of the Triad among female adolescent athletes, particularly those participating in leanness sports, such as endurance running. This is alarming, as adolescents require adequate nutrition and normal hormone function to optimize bone mineral gains during this critical developmental period. Current literature highlights new assessments, such as measurements of bone microarchitecture and hormone levels to better evaluate bone strength and the hormonal and metabolic profile of athletes with and at risk for the Triad. Recent data also provides support for additional potential consequences of the Triad, such as endothelial dysfunction and related cardiovascular effects, stress fractures, and musculoskeletal injuries. Additional prospective research is needed to evaluate long-term indicators and consequences of the Triad and identify effective behavioral treatment strategies.