Female triathletes frequently have pelvic floor disorders (PFDs) and screen positive for at least one component of the female athlete triad (Triad), according to a study presented at the American Urogynecologic Society and the International Urogynecological Association 2014 Scientific Meeting.

Johnny Yi, M.D., from the Loyola University Health System in Chicago, and colleagues conducted a nationwide web-based survey of female triathletes aged older than 18 years. There were 311 respondents from seven regions of the United States. Validated questionnaires were used to estimate the prevalence of PFDs, pelvic girdle pain (PGP), and the Triad.

The researchers found that 16 and 37.4 percent of respondents experienced urgency urinary incontinence and stress urinary incontinence, respectively, while 5 percent experienced pelvic organ prolapse and 37 percent anal incontinence.

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Eighteen percent of respondents had PGP, with higher levels for those with stress urinary incontinence, urgency urinary incontinence, and anal incontinence. Twenty-two percent of the respondents who completed the Triad questionnaire screened positive for low energy availability; 24 percent for menstrual irregularities; and 29 percent for abnormal bone strength.

Overall, 24 percent screened positive for one component of the Triad. No significant association was seen for PFDs and the Triad.

“Doctors should be aware of how common these conditions are in this group of athletes and treat patients appropriately to avoid long-term health consequences,” Yi said in a statement.