Thursday, April 26, 2007

Tips for Female Athletes

Tips for Female Athletes

Here are a few tips to help teen athletes stay on top of their physical condition:

*Keep track of your periods. It's easy to forget when you had your last menstration, you can do this by keeping a calendar in your gym bag and mark down when your period starts and stops and if the bleeding is particularly heavy or light. By doing this you will realize if you start missing periods, you'll know right away and you'll have accurate information to give to your doctor.

*Don't skip meals or snacks. Girls who are constantly on the go between school, practice, and competitions may be tempted to skip meals and snacks to save time. But eating now will improve performance later, so stock your locker or bag with quick and easy favorites such as bagels, string cheese, unsalted nuts and seeds, raw vegetables, granola bars, and fruit.

*Visit a dietitian or nutritionist who works with teen athletes. He or she can help you get your dietary game plan into gear and determine if you're getting enough key nutrients such as iron, calcium, and protein. And if you need supplements, a nutritionist can recommend the best choices.

*Do it for you. Pressure from teammates, parents, or coaches can turn a fun activity into a nightmare. If you're not enjoying your sport, make a change. Remember: It's your body and your life. You — not your coach or teammates — will have to live with any damage you do to your body now.

These tips are the best treatment for the Female Triad because it lies in prevention and early detection of the disorder

Signs and Symptoms

What Are the Signs and Symptoms?

If a girl has risk factors for female athlete triad, she may already be experiencing some symptoms and signs of the disorder, such as:

*weight loss *no periods or irregular periods *fatigue and decreased ability to concentrate
*stress fractures (fractures that occur even if a person hasn't had a significant injury)
*muscle injuries

Girls with female athlete triad often have signs and symptoms of eating disorders, such as:

*continued dieting in spite of weight loss *preoccupation with food and weight *using laxatives *brittle hair or nails *dental cavities because in girls with bulimia tooth enamel is worn away by frequent vomiting *sensitivity to cold *low heart rate and blood pressure *heart irregularities *chest pain

Factors that prone females to Female Triad

Those who are prone to get Female Triad: Most girls have concerns about the size and shape of their bodies, but girls who develop female athlete triad have certain risk factors that set them apart. Being a highly competitive athlete and participating in a sport that requires you to train extra hard is a risk factor.
Girls with female athlete triad often care so much about their sports that they would do almost anything to improve their performance.
Participation in sports where a thin appearance is valued can also put a girl at risk for female athlete triad. Particular sports may result in more female athletes with this condition due to the different types and levels of compitition. For expample: martial arts, rowing, ballet, cheerleading, gymnastics, figure skating, diving, and distance running. These types of sports are the kind that value a thin, lean body shape and classify athletes by weight class, so focusing on weight becomes an important part of the training program and can put a girl at risk for disordered eating. Some girls may even be told by coaches or judges that losing weight would improve their scores.
Even in sports where body size and shape aren't as important, such as distance running and cross-country skiing, girls may be pressured by teammates, parents, partners, and coaches who mistakenly believe that "losing just a few pounds" could improve their performance.
The fact of the matter is that losing those few pounds generally doesn't improve performance at all. People who are fit and active enough to compete in sports generally have more muscle than fat, so it's the muscle that gets starved when a girl cuts back on food. So if a girl loses weight when she doesn't need to, it interferes with healthy body processes such as menstruation and bone development.
For some competitive female athletes, problems such as low self-esteem, a tendency toward perfectionism, and family stress place them at risk for disordered eating, a part of female triad.


Osteoporosis is the final factor of having the Female Triad:

Low estrogen levels and poor nutrition, especially low calcium intake, can lead to osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a weakening of the bones due to the loss of bone density and improper bone formation. This condition can be damaging to a female athlete's career because it may lead to stress fractures and other injuries.
The teen years are a time when girls should be building up their bone mass to their highest levels — called peak bone mass. Not getting enough calcium during the teen years can also have a lasting effect on how strong a girl's bones are later in life. This as well as having and eating disorder and also contribute to developing osteoporosis due to the fact that the young women's body is not getting enough nutrients and vitamins.


Amenorrhea is a the second factor in the Female Athlete Triad:

Amenorrhea by definition means: the absence of a female menstrual cycle. There are two types of amenorrhea, primary and secondary. Primary amenorrhea is the absence of menses by age 16. Secondary amenorrhea is the absence of 3-12 consecutive periods. Athletes who engage in intense physical training such as gymnast and endurance runners often experience secondary amenorrhea. Amenorrhea can lead to osteoporosis, infertility, and possibly cardiovascular disease. Some treatment options include: a reduction in training, estrogen supplements, and simply being educated on the condition.
Due to the fact that a girl with female athlete triad is exercising intensely and not eating enough calories, when her weight falls too low, she may experience decreases in estrogen, the hormone that helps to regulate the menstrual cycle. As a result, a girl's periods may become irregular or stop altogether. Though it is normal for teen girls to occasionally miss periods, especially in their first year of having periods. A missed period does not automatically mean a girl has female athlete triad. A missed period could mean something else is going on, like pregnancy or a medical condition. Some girls who participate intensively in sports may never even get their first period because they've been training so hard. Other girls may have had periods, but once they increase their training and change their eating habits, their periods may stop.

Eating Disorders

The first factor of the Female Triad is having an EATING DISORDER:

Most girls with female athlete triad try to lose weight primarily to improve their athletic performance. The disordered eating that accompanies female athlete triad can range from avoiding certain types of food the athlete thinks are "bad" (such as foods containing fat) to serious eating disorders like anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa. Body image has become an obsession in society. More people are weight conscious now than ever before. This obsession has given rise to two disorders: bulimia and anorexia. They are extremely harmful to athletes because they deprive the athlete of much needed nutrition and the disorders add stress the athletes lives.

*Bulimia commonly runs in females ranging in age from teenagers to middle aged women. Bulimics usually gorge themselves with food after a period of starvation. They will then purge themselves by inducing vomiting or taking diuretics and laxatives. The individual will enter another starvation period and the cycle will start over. These patterns of eating can lead to stomach ruptures, arrhythmias, liver damage, tooth decay, and chronic inflammation of the throat and mouth. Bulimic athletes are usually white, belong to a middle-class to upper-middle-class family, are perfectionist, highly motivated, academically successful, and well liked among peers. These female athletes, most often compete in dance, track, and gymnastics. Male athlete bulimics often compete in wrestling and gymnastics.

*Anorexia is characterized by a distorted body image and concern about weight gain. The disorder affects mostly females and can be mixed in with bulimia. The athlete will be extremely thin, however the athlete will think she is extremely fat. The individuals enter starvation periods and engage in large amounts of aerobic exercise. Individuals with the disorder or suspected of the disorder need to seek psychiatric and nutritional counseling. Treatment begins with the athlete realizing that he/she has a problem. Unfortunately, 15-20% of the individuals diagnosed with anorexia die from the disorder.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Female Athlete Triad

What is a Female Athlete Triad?

Sports and exercise are an essential part of a balanced, healthy lifestyle. Women who play sports have many factors in their life that are more favorable to unactive women. They are healthier, are less likely to experience depression, and use alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs less frequently than females who aren't athletes. But for some, not balancing the needs of their bodies and their sports can have major consequences.

Some girls who play sports or exercise intensely are at risk for a problem called Female Athlete Triad . The female athlete triad is a combination of three conditions: disordered eating, amenorrhea, and osteoporosis. A female athlete can have one, two, or all three parts of the triad but when combined the female athleteis considered to have the female triad. Women athletes are often pressured to excel at their sport. In addition, they may be pressured to keep up a physical image. This can have serious consequences, which may lead to eating disorders.