The Female Athlete Triad

John Furia, MD


Medscape General Medicine. 1999;1(1) 

In This Article

Disordered Eating

Although males can also develop disordered eating, the problem is much more common in women.[11,17,18] Many young women find themselves working to conform to society's beliefs of what constitutes beauty and perfection. They learn that being thin is a desirable trait and thinness is often encouraged by coaches. Thin female bodies are flaunted with excessively small costumes.

Restricted caloric intake leads to energy deficits. The body requires a minimum of calories to function; diminished intake results in decreased metabolic rate and hinders musculoskeletal and cardiovascular performance.[9,11] In time, endocrine function is altered, and amenorrhea may ensue with sequelae.

Athletes will fast, binge, and practice self-induced vomiting in order to shed pounds. In some cases, athletes have been know to abuse laxatives and diuretics. The combination of ingested drugs with restricted intake can result in potentially life-threatening metabolic imbalances.

I asked the mother if she was aware of any medical problems or noticed any peculiar behavior in this student.
"No," she responded. "Just some irregular periods, nothing to be concerned about."