Male Athlete Triad


Sports participation usually offers numerous health benefits to individuals irrespective of gender. But, a subset of population can also experience adverse effects of sports participation, for example female athlete triad. The female athlete triad is one of the common syndrome in sports affecting girls and young women. By definition, the female athlete triad is described as a syndrome of three interrelated conditions which includes low energy availability (with or without disordered eating) , menstrual dysfunction and low body mass index. Parallel to female athlete triad, several case studies reports that a subset of male population participating in sports and extensively emphasizing on leanness may present with similar symptoms like bone stress injuries with combination of low energy availablity low BMD, and hypogondotropic hypogonadism, which suggestively is described as male athlete triad parallel to female athlete triad.[1]

While female athlete triad is well-known and extensively researched, male athlete triad requires research to advance the health of male athletes.

Low Energy Availability

The concept of adequate energy availability is under-studied in male athletes, although nutritional deficits have been identified in a subset of athletes. Several studies done on nutrition of male athletes suggest sports emphasizing leanness, especially endurance sports, and those sports requiring weight control carry an increased risk of nutritional deficits.[1]

Eating Disorders and Disordered Eating

Number of studies were done studying eating pattern of male athletes which suggests that there is no significant differences between sport type, indicating athletes in sports emphasizing leanness may exhibit an elevated prevalence of disordered eating.[1]

Hypogondatropic Hypogonadism

Unlike females, evaluating changes to the male reproductive function requires sophisticated techniques and may complicate the identification of a similar syndrome in males. Clinical symptoms of male reproductive dysfunction are few, and evaluation may require sperm and fertility analysis . Some studies suggests that there are measurable changes in hormones that influence metabolism and reproduction, such as those oftche hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis, in male athletes . Variations in these hormones may result from low energy availability occurring, for example, as a result of marked increases in endurance training without an accompanying increased caloric intake. However, few studies suggested dietary intake and endocrine function.[1]

Low Body Mass Index

Irrespective of gender both men and women must accrue and maintain peak bone mass to optimize bone strength and resistance to fracture.Several factors influence bone metabolism. Genetics is the strongest factor, although behavioral and environmental influences, such as diet and exercise, also play a significant role. Due to the osteogenic effect of loading forces exerted to bone during exercise, participation in sports tha tinvolve high-impact and multidirectional loading activitiespromotes increased bone mineralization during develop-ment, and athletes typically exhibit higher than normal levels of bone mass than non-athlete. Although a representative prevalence of low BMD in male athletics is unknown, current research suggests that the subset of athletes with the highest prevalence of impaired bone health appears to be those participating in endurance and weight-class sports.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Tenforde AS, Barrack MT, Nattiv A, Fredericson M.Parallels with the Female Athlete Triad in Male Athletes. Journal of Sports Medicine. Review Article 10.1007/s40279-015-0411-y.