Committee Opinion No.702: Female Athlete Triad

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Abstract

The female athlete triad is a medical condition observed in physically active females involving three components: 1) low energy availability with or without disordered eating, 2) menstrual dysfunction, and 3) low bone density. An individual does not need to show clinical manifestations of all three components of the female athlete triad simultaneously to be affected by the condition. Consequences of these clinical conditions may not be completely reversible, so prevention, early diagnosis, and intervention are critical. All athletes are at risk of the female athlete triad, regardless of body build or sport. All active females should be assessed for components of the triad and further evaluation should be performed if one or more components are identified. The obstetrician–gynecologist has the opportunity to screen athletes for components of the female athlete triad at comprehensive visits for preventive care. Using the menstrual cycle as a vital sign is a useful tool for identifying athletes at risk of female athlete triad and should be an integral part of the preparticipatory sports physical. The goal of treatment for those diagnosed with female athlete triad is restoration of regular menses as a clinical marker of reestablishment of energy balance and enhancement of bone mineral density. The female athlete triad is a result of energy imbalance; thus, adjusting the energy expenditure and energy availability is the main intervention. Pharmacologic treat-ment may be considered when nonpharmacologic treatment has failed. A team approach involving the patient, obstetrician–gynecologist, sports nutritionist, coaches, parents, and mental health care provider, if indicated, is optimal.

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