What is Female Athlete Triad?

With females athletes from all over the world in every sport you can think of on PledgeSports, we come across lot’s of health stories and one such is female athlete triad.   It’s a syndrome in which eating disorders (or low energy availability), amenorrhoea, and decreased bone mineral density (osteoporosis and osteopenia) are present. Also known simply as the Triad.  The female athlete triad is a syndrome of three interrelated conditions. Thus, if an athlete is suffering from one element of the Triad, it is likely that she is suffering from the other two components of the triad as well.


Symptoms & Causes

Some of the main symptoms of Triad –

  • fatigue
  • weight loss
  • bone loss
  • absent or abnormal periods
  • stress fractures
  • fasting or limiting food intake
  • binge eating
  • self-induced vomiting
  • extreme exercise.

Clinical symptoms of the Triad may include disordered eating, fatigue, hair loss, cold hands and feet, dry skin, noticeable weight loss, increased healing time from injuries.  Affected females may also struggle with low self-esteem and depression.

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Gymnastics, figure skating, ballet, diving, swimming, and long distance running are examples of sports which emphasise low body weight. The Triad is seen more often in aesthetic sports such as these versus ball game sports. Women taking part in these sports may be at an increased risk for developing female athlete triad. Many factors appear to contribute to disordered eating behaviours and clinical eating disorders as many of the top female athletes are destined to have prolonged periods of extreme dieting in order to keep their calories in check.

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Can female athlete triad be prevented or avoided?

There are things  you can do to prevent the female athlete triad, especially if you are at risk.

  • Eat a nutrient-rich, well-balanced diet.
  • Exercise in moderate amounts.
  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Find ways to reduce stress.
  • Talk to a doctor or counselor to get help.


The treatment includes correcting this imbalance of energy consumed by the body and intake of energy from foods. This is done by either increasing calories in a diet or by decreasing calories burned by exercise for 12 months or longer. To be more abstract, athletes are advised to simply, eat more and perform less exercise in order for the body to function. Females may also seek help by treatment from pharmacies. To both induce menses and improve bone density, doctors may prescribe cyclic oestrogen or progesterone as is used to treat post-menopausal women. Patients may also be put on oral contraceptives to stimulate regular periods.

Without treatment, the female athlete triad can cause long-term health problems. When combined with a low body weight, it can even lead to death.

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Questions to ask your Doctor


If you are feeling like you may have the symptoms listed above or you want to seek further help – these are the following questions you should ask your local GP.

  • How do I know if I have a problem?
  • Could there be another reason for low energy or irregular periods?
  • How do I strike a balance between my desire to win and my need to be healthy?
  • What lifestyle changes should I make?
  • Do I need medicine? Counselling?
  • Where can I get help for an eating disorder?

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