Society unfortunately still has many misconceptions about eating disorders, including the stereotype that an individual suffering from one will be rail thin. However, there are plenty of individuals who suffer from the symptoms of an eating disorder, even though their outward appearance does not seem to reflect that they have one. This is typically seen in athletes who try to their lower body weight, thinking they will gain optimal performance. For women, this is referred to as female athlete triad syndrome. Female athletes suffer from this before they realize what they are doing to their body.
How It Develops
Many sports require female athletes to maintain a low body weight. Some of the most common activities include:
- Cross country running
- Figure skating
However, these sports require participants to expend a lot of energy, meaning athletes need to consume more food, not less. Unfortunately, the opposite occurs regularly where women eat less, but since they are active more often than the average person, they have less fuel. These individuals may not necessarily eat less than recommended, but it is not enough for to sustain them through their activity.
Symptoms of Female Athlete Triad Syndrome
There are three symptoms that develop with this disorder. First is an energy deficiency due to the athlete not consuming enough calories. This is why this syndrome is considered an eating disorder along the same lines as bulimia or anorexia. The second symptom is bone loss. Athletes with this disorder face a greater risk of developing osteoporosis, which can lead to bone fractures. Finally, female athletes experience menstrual disturbances, or the absence of menstruation for three months or more, known as amenorrhea. If you are an athlete experiencing one or more of these symptoms, it’s crucial to consult with a health professional for further examination.
Who Is Most at Risk
Females in their teens are the most at risk for this disorder, although it has been observed in women of all ages. Many teens already face enough pressure to maintain a certain body weight, and the added pressure of competitive sports can compound those anxieties.
Female Athlete Triad Syndrome Treatment
Similar to all eating disorders, if the problem is severe, female athlete triad syndrome requires professional intervention. This disorder may be related to mental health problems such as stress, anxiety, and depression. Anyone experiencing symptoms of those problems, as well as the symptoms of female athlete triad syndrome, should seek help immediately.
However, some athletes unintentionally develop the symptoms of female athlete triad syndrome and can adjust for what their bodies need. If you notice you unintentionally developed female athlete triad syndrome, consult your doctor and/or nutritionist to help get back on track so your body can perform optimally. They may also recommend vitamins or supplements to help reverse some of the side effects.
Where to Find Help
Anyone in need of eating disorder treatment should contact the professionals at Seeds of Hope. Call us at 610-644-6464 or send us a message through our online contact form to learn more. Female athlete triad syndrome does not have to overtake your life, and we have experts waiting to help.