Purpose of review
The obstetrician/gynecologist (ob/gyn) may be the first provider to have the opportunity to recognize and diagnose female athlete triad. This review will help the ob/gyn to understand the female athlete triad and what is new on this topic, how to screen and diagnose the condition and the ob/gyn's role in treatment.
Female athlete triad, also known as relative energy deficiency in sports, involves an interrelationship among energy availability, menstrual function and low bone density. When these components are not balanced, the health of the athlete is at risk. By using menstrual cycle as a vital sign, a careful medical history may alert you to this condition. The mainstay of treatment is achieving optimal energy balance and resumption of menses. This may involve dietary invention by increasing caloric intake or activity modification by limiting or restricting participation in sports. A multidisciplinary team, including the ob/gyn, athlete, coach, parents, sport nutritionist and sometimes psychiatrist/psychologist, is optimal for management. Medication may supplement but not replace treating the underlying condition.
The female athlete triad is an important disorder to identify, as early diagnosis and intervention may prevent long-term consequences, some of which may not be reversible if not diagnosed and treated.