Deakin University

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Energy deficiency, menstrual disturbances and low bone mass: What do Australian exercising females know about the female athlete triad?

Version 2 2024-06-04, 03:01
Version 1 2023-10-26, 04:18
journal contribution
posted on 2024-06-04, 03:01 authored by SM Miller, S Kukuljan, Anne TurnerAnne Turner, P van der Pligt, G Ducher
PURPOSE: Prevention of the female athlete triad is essential to protect female athletes' health. The aim of this study was to investigate the knowledge, attitudes and behaviours of regularly exercising adult females towards eating patterns, menstrual cycles and bone health. METHODS: A total of 191 female exercisers, aged 18-40 y, engaging in ≥2 hr/wk of strenuous activity, completed a survey. After excluding 11 surveys (due to incomplete answers), the 180 participants were categorised into lean-build sports (n=82; running/athletics, triathlon, swimming, cycling, dancing, rowing), non lean-build sports (n=94; basketball, netball, soccer, hockey, volleyball, tennis, trampoline, squash, Australian football) or gym/fitness activities (n=4). RESULTS: Mean (±SD) training volume was 9.0±5.5 hr/wk, with participants competing from local up to international level. Only 10% of respondents could name the 3 components of the female athlete triad. Regardless of the reported history of stress fracture, 45% of the respondents did not think that amenorrhoea (absence of menses for ≥ three months) could affect bone health, and 22% of those involved in lean-build sports would do nothing if experiencing amenorrhoea (vs. 3.2% in non lean-build sports, p=0.005). Lean-build sports, history of amenorrhoea and history of stress fracture were all significantly associated with not taking action in the presence of amenorrhoea (all p<0.005). CONCLUSIONS: Few active Australian women are aware of the detrimental effects of menstrual dysfunction on bone health. Education programs are needed to prevent the female athlete triad and ensure appropriate actions are taken by athletes when experiencing amenorrhoea.



International journal of sport nutrition and exercise metabolism






Champaign, Ill.





Publication classification

C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal, C Journal article

Copyright notice

2012, Human Kinetics




Human Kinetics