The Female Athlete Triad Part 2: How to recognise, treat and prevent the triad
The following are signs and symptoms of the triad:
Irregular or absent periods, difficulty getting pregnant
Stress fractures or injuries that occur as a result of over-use, such as shin splints
A preoccupation with weight or body size/shape that interferes with normal eating habits
Noticeable weight loss
Excessive or compulsive exercise habits
Dehydration and electrolyte imbalances which result in feeling more tired, anxious and irritable than usual
Difficulty concentrating and reduced motivation to do the things you normally like to do
A team of experts should be consulted so as to ensure that life-long problems can be prevented. In cases where periods become irregular or cease completely for a period of more than 3 months your GP ought to be contacted immediately. Additionally, a physiotherapist can tend to any running-related injuries and advise on appropriate alternatives to running, while a dietician can address the issue of weight and prescribe the number of calories that ought to be consumed in order to fuel the energy expended during exercise. Finally, a psychologist or counsellor may be required if there are concerns surrounding body image.
Preventing the triad begins with having a healthy attitude towards food and exercise, and making sure that you are providing your body with appropriate nutrition to fuel your exercise.
Keep track of your periods from month to month
Know generally how many calories you consume each day. Apps like My Fitness Pal can be useful for this
Eat every 3-4 hours. Three meals a day and at least 2 snacks are recommended, keeping in mind when is best and what foods are appropriate both for fuelling and recovering from exercise.
Track how much you exercise in a day, taking note of the kind of activity being undertaken, as well as its duration and intensity. Apps like My Fitness Pal and calorie counter watches can be used to calculate the energy expended during exercise.