VIDEO: Female Athlete Triad

Clinical Expertise

May 12, 2021

Medical Reviewer: Carolyn Tremblay, PT, DPT, CLT
Last Updated: June 21, 2021

Video Transcript

Hi, I’m Carolyn, a women’s health physical therapist with Brooks Rehabilitation. My clinic is located in Kissimmee, Florida.

We get a lot of questions from parents and coaches of prepubescent and teenage girls asking questions about what to look out for in their female teenage athletes.

While these sports are fantastic for building a sense of teamwork, self-confidence, and obviously great sports skill that can be translated into college and above, we want to take a look at how these sports are affecting our girl’s health. The female athlete triad is a cluster of symptoms or signs that mean that your female athlete may need a little bit of help. It’s always important to talk to your pediatrician if you notice any of these things.

If your child has already passed the age of menarche, which is the start of the menstrual cycle, and they’ve suddenly stopped having their monthly cycle, that could mean that the either training load is too high, or their caloric intake is too low. This could have detrimental effects later in life as far as fertility and regular cycles, so it’s important to speak with your pediatrician or even set up an appointment with a GYN at that point in time.

A lot of female athletes tend to restrict calories, and over restriction of calories means not just not enough energy for sport, but also not enough fuel for growth. If our girls aren’t growing, they could have other problems later on in life, too. We need to make sure they’re getting all of the building blocks for bones, muscles, brain cells, and neuro-transmitters that they need.

And third is bone density. The third part of the female athlete triad is really a combination, a result of a combination of those first two, the restriction of calories and the high training load. We can end up having detriments that decrease bone growth and reduce the ability of the bones to maintain the load the sport demands, which means that could end up with stress fractures or other future problems.

So maintaining good calorie intake, watching the training load, and keeping an eye on the monthly cycle are three great ways to start checking the health of your female athlete.

You can always speak to your pediatrician or sports specialist, and also speak to any women’s health physical therapist for more information.

Thanks for listening, and I hope you have a great day.

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Medical Reviewer

Carolyn Tremblay, PT, DPT, CLT

Certified Lymphedema Therapist, Center Manager - Osceola Outpatient Clinic
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