What is the female athlete triad? And what are the symptoms active women need to look out for?

Have you heard the term ‘female athlete triad’ thrown about lately? Wondering what the heck it is and why you should care? 

If you’re a female athlete, chances are you’re already trying to do all the right things – eating well, training regularly, and getting enough rest. But if you’re suffering from a condition known as female athlete triad syndrome, you may be experiencing symptoms that are throwing your body out of balance. 

In this article, we’ll outline what those symptoms are and give you a better understanding of what the female athlete triad is. 

So what is the female athlete triad?

Let’s start by defining what female athlete triad syndrome is. In essence, the female athlete triad is three conditions that are interrelated and most often experienced by active women. Those conditions are; underfuelling, menstrual cycle irregularity, and low bone mineral density. 

Now let’s explore these conditions a little more closely and outline the symptoms that you might be experiencing if you have female athlete triad syndrome. 

Signs of female athlete triad syndrome

If you’re suffering from female athlete triad syndrome you might have noticed the following symptoms: 

  • Decreased performance 
  • Fatigue
  • Longer recovery times
  • Increase in injuries
  • Abnormal periods
  • Moodiness
  • Impaired judgment 
  • Decrease in coordination

The good news is, once you’ve identified that you have a female athlete triad, you can address the underlying causes and get back on track with the help of a dietician. 

Condition one: Underfuelling 

You might be eating nutrient dense foods like fruits, vegetables and lean meats but if you’re not getting enough calories to fuel your body for training then you’re under fuelling your body which can turn into a serious problem. As an active woman, having the right level of nutrition is especially important. So if you’re not eating enough of the right foods you may end up with a female athlete triad. 

Condition two: Menstrual cycle irregularity 

If your period has become irregular or stopped altogether, it’s another sign that you may have female athlete triad. This is often a knock-on effect from not getting enough calories day to day. When you’re under fuelling your body, your body shuts down systems that aren’t essential for day to day survival – such as your menstrual cycle. 

Condition three: Low bone mineral density 

This is another symptom of female athlete triad that results from inadequate calories and nutrition. If you don’t get enough energy from your food, your bones won’t get the resources they need to recover from stress and damage. Bone mineral density is particularly important for active women, and without it you may find you have more stress fractures. Over a long period of time, low bone mineral density can also lead to osteoporosis. 

So what should you do if you suspect you have female athlete triad? 

If you think you might have female athlete triad, getting in touch with  a registered dietician is your best first step. This way you’ll receive lifestyle and diet advice that is tailored to you specifically. 

And when you’re back in tip-top condition, make sure you’re protected out on the field with Fempro Armour. We offer a range of female designed body armour to keep you protected while you play the sports you love. Check out our range here.