The female athlete triad: eating disorders, amenorrhea and osteoporosis

The female athlete triad is defined as the combination of eating disorders, amenorrhea and osteoporosis. Physical and psychological stress together with reduced body weight have been put forward as potential factors responsible for the induction of the triad. Irregular menstrual cycles and low level of sex hormones, together with low calcium intake lead to the development of osteoporosis and pathological fractures. This disorder often goes unrecognised. Early recognition of the female athlete triad can be accomplished by the physician through risk factor assessment and screening questions. Instituting an appropriate diet and moderating the intensity of exercise may result in the natural return of menstruation. If that is not possible, hormone replacement therapy should be considered early to prevent the loss of bone density. Prevention strategies need to involve education of coaches, teachers, parents, and others who work closely with female athletes. In the treatment of the female athlete triad, the family physician usually co-operates with the school and sports medical doctor, orthopaedic specialist, nutritionist, psychologist and psychiatrist.
Category: Review
Volume: Vol. 46, No 3, july - september 2002
Authors: T. Dušek , M. Lončar Dušek
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