Health Tips from a Mother of Three

Sports Medicine For Female Athletes: What You Need To Know

For a long period of time, the focus of sports medicine, both in training and in execution, was focused primarily on the male athlete. Techniques, treatments, and standards were developed to treat men rather than women. This gender disparity was based largely on the fact that female athletes were once few and far between. However, in recent years, the unique sports medicine needs of women athletes have finally started to be recognized. Here is what you need to know about sports medicine for women.

Athletes With Eating Disorders

When it comes to sports medicine, treating physicians see different conditions that develop. In particular, female athletes have a greater tendency of developing an eating disorder over the course of their training and competitive career. This is a largely sociological and psychological phenomenon in the case of women.

Whereas male athletes have issues with steroid use to increase their muscle mass and size, female athletes are under constant pressure to meet societal pressures to maintain trim, slender figures in spite of the physical demands of their athletic career.

This tendency towards developing eating disorders can cause unique problems for sports medicine practitioners. Female athletes who suffer from eating disorders are more prone to injuries specifically broken bones due to associated osteoporosis. Dehydration, torn muscles, and dizziness can also be chronic problems for these athletes.

Pregnancy in Sports Medicine

A key difference in sports medicine for men and women is, of course, the fact that female athletes can become pregnant. Women can, if they so choose, continue to compete in their athletic career during pregnancy, and by all means usually continue to train and stay in physical condition.

In sports medicine, the main concern for treating a pregnant athlete is to prevent and treat any abdominal trauma or injury. In fact, the risk of abdominal injury is the primary reason that some female athletes take time off during their pregnancy.

Sports medicine physicians must be on the lookout for pregnancy symptoms in female athletes, a task obviously not required for male athletes. These include chronic fatigue, sudden loss of coordination, and unexplained back pain.

The Female Athlete Triad

The female athlete triad is a term in sports medicine to describe the three most prevalent and concurrent conditions that affect the female athlete. These include the aforementioned high risk of eating disorders, a lack of menstrual period (known as amenorrhea), and bone loss. 

Women as young as high school aged or even younger who are dedicated athletes can develop the female athlete triad. Those who do may suffer from future reproductive issues (possibly even an inability to carry a pregnancy to term), heart disease, and other physical maladies.

When it comes to sports medicine for female athletes, there are marked differences and distinctions from the male equivalent treatment. As a female athlete, you will want to find a practitioner who has been specifically trained in female sports medicine so that you get the best possible treatment.