The female athlete triad: What’s a doctor to do?
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Sports medicine physicians often encounter athletes with at least one component of the Female Athlete Triad—disordered eating, menstrual dysfunction, and altered bone mineral density. Recognizing these conditions early is critical because prolonged exposure can lead to serious, potentially irreversible, health consequences. Knowledge of the pathophysiology, detection, and treatment of these problems has evolved significantly. This review focuses on the newer scientific findings in this important area of women’s health. There remains a distinct lack of prospective epidemiologic data assessing prevalence and causes, and outcome studies on the efficacy of prevention and treatment of the Triad disorders. Nevertheless, the underlying message remains that participation in sports and physical activity benefits the long-term health of girls and women, and should be encouraged.
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