Although menstruation looks different for each person, missing your period for more than three months is a red flag that something is wrong. If you're physically active and dieting, you might be struggling with a rarely discussed condition called relative energy deficiency in sport (RED-S).
RED-S occurs when athletes of any gender do not get enough energy to support the demands of their intensive exercise, which eventually causes poor athletic performance and other health problems.
A missing period is an obvious sign of RED-S in people who menstruate, but the condition influences multiple systems in the body, including metabolism, bone health, immunity, protein synthesis, cardiovascular health and well-being. This results in experiencing symptoms such as digestive issues, poor sleep, anxiety and recurrent infections and injuries.
It is the co-occurrence of these signs that is particularly telling.
"When we look at these symptoms individually, none of them is too alarming, however,