Low energy availability, the Female Athlete Triad and more!

Women across the world are participating in sport and exercise in record numbers. The social, psychological and physical health benefits of regular exercise have been widely disseminated. Yet, rigorous exercise is also associated with a unique set of risks for women. In 1992, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) coined the term ‘Female Athlete Triad’ to illustrate the three separate but inter-related spectrums of energy availability, menstrual function and bone mineral density (BMD). Clinical manifestations including disordered eating behaviours, amenorrhea (cessation of menstrual cycles) and bone mineral loss can have long-lasting consequences for the health of female athletes and exercising women. For this reason, the Triad is diagnosed in ANY exercising woman who exhibits signs and/or symptoms consistent with the pathological end of any one or more of these spectrums (i.e. low energy availability, amenorrhea and/or low BMD).

Low Energy AvailabilityThe Get Educated! section is designed to provide female athletes, exercising women, coaches, friends, family and health professionals with evidence-based information pertaining to energy availability as it relates to exercise and optimal health. Here you will find information on the prevalence, mechanisms, risk factors, signs and symptoms and management of low energy availability. Subsequent effects low energy availability has on the reproductive, skeletal, cardiovascular and psychological health of the female athlete or exercising woman are also highlighted. Further, we aim to help overcome social stigmas surrounding eating behaviours, body image concerns, addictive exercise or training practices, and menstrual disturbances. The social silences about these issues and practices have made it difficult for female athletes and exercising women to seek help, and for coaches, parents or teachers to discuss their concerns.

We hope the Get Educated! section will empower female athletes and exercising women with knowledge about their own bodies and help them feel less alone in their experiences. In so doing, we hope women can have more confidence in seeking assistance and continue to experience the numerous benefits associated with exercise and high performance sport while avoiding the negative consequences of energy deficiency on parameters of health.

Use the navigational points along the side to begin your education!