Reading Passage: RED-S in Males

Module 6: RED-S in Males

Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport (RED-S) is not limited to female athletes and can occur in male athletes as well. It is often underdiagnosed in males due to the common belief that it only affects females. Similarly, there is minimal research on male athletes with RED-S because the International Olympic Committee did not release a RED-S definition encompassing both male and female athletes until 2014. Male athletes are similarly at risk of developing RED-S due to restrictive eating, weight loss practices, and excessive energy expenditure through training and competition. It has been hypothesized that men may require more severe or prolonged reductions in energy status prior to showing signs or symptoms of RED-S. This may because there are often no overt signs of a developing problem until the male is severely energy deficient because men do not have clear indicators such as amenorrhea with females.

Low energy availability can have a wide range of negative effects on male athletes' health and performance, similar to female athletes. However, there are some specific health consequences that are more prevalent in male athletes with RED-S, such as decreased testosterone production, decreased sperm production, and stress fractures. In particular, reduced testosterone levels can impact muscle mass, strength, thyroid functioning, and sexual function. Similar to their females athlete counterparts, males also develops other RED-S complications discussed early in the modules.

It's important to note that male athletes are often under pressure to maintain a certain body composition or weight, especially in sports where leanness is highly valued such as gymnastics, diving, and long-distance running. This pressure can increase the risk of RED-S in male athletes.

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