Female Athlete Triad can Have Long-Term Affect on Teenage Girls

Mahaska Health Partnership

MAHASKA COUNTY – While sports and exercise are part of a healthy lifestyle, too much can be harmful, especially for teen girls. Family Nurse Practitioner Raegan Johns, ARNP, cautions teens about female athlete triad.

“Female athlete triad occurs when an adolescent pushes herself too hard physically without properly fueling her body,” Johns explained. “This deprives her body of valuable nutrition; depleting resources to the point her body avoids other functions to conserve energy.”

According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, female athlete triad involves three conditions: disordered eating, menstrual dysfunction and premature osteoporosis. “Disordered eating doesn’t have to mean anorexia or bulimia,” Johns shared. “Other behaviors such as binge eating, crash diets or extreme food choices also apply.

“Menstrual dysfunction occurs when hormonal changes cause you to have abnormal cycles or miss cycles all together. If you miss your period, it can mean your body is working to conserve energy due to low calorie intake, physical or emotional stress or too little body fat,” Johns stressed.

“Girls with female athlete triad have lower estrogen, which can lead to osteoporosis or a weakening of the bones due to loss of density. Usually the teen years are a time when girls are building up their bone mass to its highest levels so this can be very concerning. These choices in their teens could affect them for a lifetime,” Johns cautioned.

Diagnosis and treatment of female athlete triad requires in-depth analysis of girls’ exercise and eating habits with her primary care provider. “Having a relationship with a primary care provider is so valuable,” Johns encouraged. “During regular check-ups or a concerning time, we have a history to guide us and I can recognize changes in your cycle, behavior or health that might help us get to the root of an issue faster.”

If a parent or coach notices a teen girl overly focused on her body size, being the best in a sport or mentioning not having regular cycles, it’s important to make an appointment with their primary care provider. “The effects of female athlete triad are severe but they don’t have to be long term,” Johns stated. “It takes a partnership between medical providers, parents and coaches to help teen girls get healthy the right way.”

Raegan Johns is a Family Nurse Practitioner with a passion for children, adolescents and women’s health. While well-child visits might be the highlight of her day, she also strongly advocates for adolescents and their unique health needs. She understands the stress and health concerns of women and wants to support her patients through life’s milestones. For an appointment, call 641.672.3360.

Mahaska Health Partnership, located in Oskaloosa, is a non-profit health system accredited by the Joint Commission. It is guided by its mission to provide exceptional customer service and health improvement, linking the science of medicine with the humanity of compassionate care. For more information about how Mahaska Health Partnership is making healthcare personal, visit mahaskahealth.org.

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Posted by on Sep 8 2017. Filed under Lifestyle. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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