The triad of the athlete is a phenomenon that happens in women athletes and affects the diet, menstruation and bone system.
Our collaborator Ana Casares, speaks to us in this article about the triad in the training of the triathlete woman.
It may appear in women triathletes who follow a demanding training plan associated with excessive and sometimes obsessive worry about maintaining a low body weight.
Compared to 1% of the general female population suffering from anorexia or bulimia, 62% of female professional athletes experience one or another eating disorder, according to a study published in "Sport Medicine" by Rosen and Cols and Sundot-Borgen (2006) .
The training intense, low fat percentage and poor diet they make the appearance of irregularities in the menstrual cycle more likely.
From eating disorders looking for the reduction of body fat percentage, a amenorrhea (absence of menstruation), with the consequent reduction of estrogen and progesterone, which in turn supposes loss of mass that is y increased risk of osteoporosis early.
Amenorrhea is multifactorial, there is no fatty percentage below which alterations are triggered, nor a volume or intensity of training to be taken into account. In general, Food and physical and emotional stress combine to cause alterations in the menstrual cycle.
Sports activity does not compensate for this bone loss. Low hormone levels imply an increased risk of fracture injury, because of the loss of bone mass, and these injuries take longer to recover.
There is a loss in the elasticity of the ligaments, further opening the possibilities of injury. And as amenorrhea is usually associated with bad nutrition, the body does not have enough energy to do quality workouts. It is the whiting that bites its tail and can end in a serious overtraining. Once the menstruation is restored, the performance improves.
I tell you a couple of personal experiences:
Physically I am finding myself better, but there is something that worries me. It's been over a year since I stopped breastfeeding and I still have not had the period. I consult him with the gynecologist and he tells me that as soon as I lower my training level and gain a couple of kilos, everything will be regulated. Now my body does not have enough fat to start the reproductive functions.
I had a rule in November 2004, when I just stopped a month, but as soon as I went back to training he disappeared again. Interestingly, in that month of rest I gained a kilo and a half of weight by placing myself in 52.5 and my percentage of fat went up a little bit. Just enough to start the ovulation mechanism. In addition, she was calmer, without the emotional stress of competition. Excerpt from the book "Mama Triathlete" (High Performance Ed, 2012)
I was worried that this absence of a year without a rule could influence bone and health. I would also like to have more children.
That summer I decided to loosen the training load and eliminate the competitions. I reduced volume and intensity by 30%. I also watched my weight to avoid losing the 52 kilos. I discovered that my percentage of body fat has to be around 10%. If it goes down, the rule disappears. I recovered the mentrucación at the end of October of 2005.
In the spring of 2008 and preparing the Rotterdam Marathon with the intention of achieving the Olympic minimum (2h32 ') my rule disappears again. My weight is around 51 kilos, the percentage of fat is 9.5%. A month after the competition I suffer a fracture of stress in the scaphoid of the foot and I have a horse anemia (35% hematocrit and 11,3 of hemoglobin).
This thin line of barely a kilo and a half more or less of weight associated with a load of balanced training and well compensated with food, is what takes me along the path of healthy training.
The treatment is clear: reduce training load, recover the optimal weight, Adequate levels of fat and lay the foundation for a healthy diet. Normally if the guidelines are followed in two-three months the menstrual cycle will reappear.
I encourage you to listen to the signals of your body, and to know the optimal weight for sport and for life. It is necessary to maintain balance and female health above all.
Monitor the weight and the amount of fat in the diet. Many times athletes have an obsession with not consuming excess calories or fat to not carry extra weight. We must be aware that the body needs fat for basic bodily functions, such as the manufacture of hormones.