I first heard about Female Athlete Triad Syndrome a few months ago from one of the female running coaches at my gym. However, after doing my own research, I discovered this syndrome has been an issue for quite some time. I was surprised to read that the women suffering from this condition are quite athletic in nature and truly embrace their sport, many times to the point of obsession. While appearing to be the picture of health, these young women often lead a secret life of calorie restriction and over-exercising. In doing so, they believe this will give them an added edge to be the best of the best in their chosen sport.
So what exactly is Female Athlete Triad Syndrome? It is a disorder involving three conditions as a consequence of calorie restriction and over-exercising.
Research shows that 12-15% of elite athletes suffer from this condition; however, it is not unheard of in the general population, where it may affect as many as 5% of the normal active female population.
As with others suffering from eating disorders, low self-esteem and the need to be the best in their sport is what drives many of these young women to an unhealthy means of controlling their weight. And this condition is becoming more prevalent in young teens, especially those participating in competitive sports such as gymnastics, soccer, ice skating, and dance.
So who is at risk for the development of Female Athlete Triad Syndrome?
What are the signs and symptoms?
If this syndrome is not detected early enough, many of these young ladies could experience such complications as decreased serum estrogen levels, irreversible bone loss, and yes, even development of increased cardiac risk factors.
This syndrome, like any other eating disorder, should be approached with extreme care and immediacy. Getting help for these women and girls is essential to their success and requires an intervention by a doctor, behavior therapist, dietitian or all of the above.
Do you believe society puts too much emphasis on young women to be the best in their chosen sport, therefore causing them to be driven to such drastic measures? What about the pressure from parents and coaches? Have you ever suffered from this syndrome, or do you know of anyone who has or is currently suffering from this syndrome?
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