The female athlete triad: special considerations for adolescent female athletes

Kelly A. Brown, Aditya V. Dewoolkar, Nicole Baker, Colleen Dodich


The number of adolescent girls participating in sports has dramatically increased throughout the last few decades. In the early 1990’s, an association between amenorrhea, osteoporosis, and disordered eating was recognized and eventually labeled the ‘Female Athlete Triad’. In 1997, the Task Force on Women’s Issues of American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) published a position statement on this triad of conditions that were becoming increasingly more prevalent amongst female athletes. Initially, the ‘Female Athlete Triad’ was characterized by disordered eating, amenorrhea, and osteoporosis. However, as the number of adolescent female athletes has continued to grow, there has been further research and investigation into this field and the triad has evolved in definition. It is essential for all health care practitioners and other professionals who care for adolescent athletes to be attentive to the clinical signs, detection, evaluation, and management of the female athlete triad, as the sequelae can have a significant impact on the health and well-being of a young person both in the short and long-term.