This just in! The female athlete triad just may have become the female athlete tetrad. Yup, it turns out that the most recent research has suggested that there is a fourth disorder of the female athlete triad making it a tetrad.
Review Of The Triad
You may remember I wrote a post on the Female Athlete Triad a while back. The original three triad disorders were anorexia, amenorrhea, and osteoporosis. This definition was then changed to disordered eating, irregular menstruation, and decreased bone mineral density basically saying that negative changes in these three things is not a good thing. Things don’t have to be as severe as the original definition in order to be a problem.
The Fourth Piece
So, now we have a probable fourth issue…endothelial disease. The endothelial cells in your body are the cells that line the inside of your blood vessels. When you don’t eat enough or exercise too much without increasing your caloric intake or a combination of the two, you can start falling into the female athlete tetrad category. This will cause an imbalance of the hormone estrogen, which will basically make your body act like it is in a menopausal state. Estrogen is important for proper function of the endothelium, so when this happens you will begin to have problems with the lining of your blood vessels. Unfortunately, this is linked to an increased risk of heart disease.
What Should You Do?
So, if you start to increase your exercise and activity level a lot, make sure you also increase your caloric intake enough to get enough food and nutrients to help you recover from your workouts so your body doesn’t end up suffering like this. There are a lot of people that start to fall into this tetrad and don’t even realize it because they just don’t know how to balance their exercise and diet. Don’t let this be you. The last thing you need is trouble with multiple systems in your body. So remember, if you have been having some trouble with increased exercise and are not sure about your diet, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor and get the ball rolling to see a sports dietician and possibly a sports medicine physician to help guide you safely on your way.