The female athlete triad is a disorder that affects your eating habits, your menstrual periods and the strength of your bones. If you have the female athlete triad, you've stopped eating normally and may have developed an eating disorder. Your menstrual periods may have stopped or become irregular. You may also have osteoporosis, a disease that makes your bones thin and weak.
If you don't get enough to eat, you may develop nutrient deficiencies that may affect your growth and increase your risk of fractures and injuries. Not having periods for months can also weaken your bones. Without treatment, the loss of bone strength may last forever. Your organs could also sustain damage due to a lack of nutrients.
Signs and symptoms of the female athlete triad include:
Your doctor will ask you questions about your periods, your eating habits and your exercise routine. He or she will also do a physical exam. Your doctor may also ask you if you take any medicines such as birth control pills, laxatives or diet pills.
Your doctor will talk with you about changing the way you exercise and the way you eat. Your doctor may also want you to talk to a counselor or a nutritionist to develop a diet plan that is healthy and that provides all of the vitamins and nutrients you need. If your periods don't come back after you change your diet and exercise routine, your doctor may prescribe medicines such as birth control pills (like estrogen and progesterone) to stop your body from losing any more bone strength.
Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff