What Every Parent Needs to Know about Female Athlete Triad

What Every Parent Needs to Know about Female Athlete Triad

The U.S. women’s World Cup victory was the most watched soccer match in U.S. history. That’s good news for parents who are looking for inspirational role models for their daughters. It may also be a reminder to keep competitive pressures under control and watch out for health issues like female athlete triad.


Female athlete triad consists of 3 related medical conditions, but symptoms in even one area may require treatment. It’s characterized by low energy, irregular menstrual periods, and decreased bone density.


Managing these symptoms can help girls to succeed on and off the playing field. As a parent, see what you can do on your own and in partnership with your family doctor and children’s school to prevent and treat female athlete triad.

Steps to Take at Home


Count calories. Girls may want to lose weight or simply
underestimate how many calories they need when they’re very physically active.
Show your daughters how to read food labels and use online calorie counters.

Eat frequently. If it’s difficult for your daughter to consume
all the nutrients she needs in 3 sittings, serve additional smaller meals and
snacks. Balance the menu with proteins, complex carbohydrates, and healthy

Stay hydrated. Athletes need water to regulate their body
temperature and keep their energy up. Make sure your child drinks plenty of
water before, during, and after exercise.

Focus on calcium. The teen years are critical for building up bone mass to prevent
fractures now and later in life.
Calcium-rich dairy products strengthen bones, and supplements can help

Discuss eating disorders. Eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia
sometimes accompany female athlete triad. Express your concerns promptly if you
see warning signs.

Track menstrual periods. Amenorrhea is one of the most obvious
indicators of female athlete triad. By marking her cycle on a calendar, your
daughter can learn to take charge of her own health. Three consecutive months without
a period or not having a first period by age 15 means it’s time to see a

Cultivate a healthy body image. Let your daughter know that she’s beautiful at
any size. Focus on being fit and strong rather than trying to reach some
arbitrary weight.

Resist comparisons. Accepting our individuality is essential for
self-esteem. Praise your daughter for making an effort and taking risks regardless
of her ranking on the team.

Steps to Take with Your Family Doctor and
Child’s School


Schedule a checkup. A sports physical can help keep your most
valuable player safe. In addition to questions about medical history, this may
include tests for bone density, thyroid disease, and other factors.

Follow your doctor’s recommendations. Your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes and
refer you to other health professionals, including nutritionists and mental
health specialists. Be prepared to work together to address your daughter’
physical and emotional needs.

Select appropriate activities. Sports with revealing clothing or frequent
weigh-ins may increase the risk of female athlete triad. Consider switching to
alternative activities that may be less stressful.

Assess coaching styles. Coaches and trainers can have a big influence,
so ensure they’re encouraging girls to have fun. Steer clear of those who think
it’s worth risking your health just to win a game. In fact, the National Collegiate
Athletic Association says weight ought to be de-emphasized as a performance

Help your daughters enjoy the benefits of participating in
sports while protecting their long-term health. By making smart choices about
eating and exercise, girls can set their own personal records while staying fit
for life.

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Rod Stone
Publisher and Supplier of Healthy Living information and products to improve
your life.

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