Today, more than ever, young women are taking part in strenuous activities. These include the age old staples such as basketball, softball, and track, but as of late, women are getting more and more involved in sports that were once considered only the domain of men such as with the rise in popularity of mixed martial arts.
Most of these women benefit positively from these activities and experience a greater level of cardiovascular health, energy levels, and low fat, muscular builds. While many of these women experience normal menstrual cycles, because the changes their bodies endure during extreme physical activity, others see a decline in regular monthly menstrual cycles.
Having a skipped menstrual cycle from time to time may be no big cause for worry but if this continues, it could be a sign of an impending problem.
Doctors have noted that women who are extremely physically active, coupled with lack of proper nutrition can experience what they have come to call THE FEMALE ATHLETE TRIAD, which is a collection of 3 physical conditions that need to be taken very seriously.
Inadequate diet/nutrition-No matter what your fitness goals are, the body needs adequate levels of fat, calories, and nutrients in order to maintain itself. Those who are dieting or restricting calories significantly may decrease the body’s production of estrogen which is crucial for healthy menstrual cycles. In addition, they may not be getting enough nutrients that can affect other normal bodily processes as well.
Lack of regular menstrual cycles-If a women has missed her menstrual cycle for 6 months or more, this condition is called Amennorhea. This can be from low body weight due to excessive exercising or improper eating as mentioned above.
Decreasing bone mass-Lower levels of estrogen can also cause bone density in these athletes to decrease as well. This can lead to a variety of problems including frequent fractures and put those who suffer from it at increased risk of bone disorders as they grow older.
The combination of these 3 conditions, known as the female athlete triad, is incredibly serious and action needs to be taken at once. It is important that you take note of any of the symptoms above and see a doctor immediately if you feel you are at risk for ANY of the above.
Following a diet that ensures proper nutrition and caloric intake for your bodyweight is a great way to avoid these problems. In addition, keeping track of your monthly menstrual cycle and noting any recurring pain and reporting it to a medical professional at once is another great way to stave off the potential downfall of health that can occur if these symptoms are go unheeded.
Healthy exercise, even if incredibly intense, can be fine as long as the athlete pays close attention to their body’s needs and answers them properly and promptly. Don’t shrug off symptoms, instead, take action immediately. Some female athletes adopt the “play through pain” mentality and never report the symptoms above until it is too late.
Don’t risk your long term health for short term activity…stay healthy, and active for years to come by avoiding harmful conditions like the female athlete triad.