A Welsh Team GB triathlete originally from Crickhowell is refusing to let a potentially fatal condition derail her path to success.
23 year old rising triathlon star, Issy Morris, is warning others of the symptoms of a silent bone disease.
She has no idea that her 20 hour a week training schedule was taking its toll on her body and it wasn’t until she changed her form of contraception that doctors discovered she was suffering from relative energy deficiency in sport (RED-S) and osteopenia; low bone density.
RED-S is cause by an imbalance in energy expenditure and nutrition and can have serious and occasional fatal effects on metabolism, menstrual function, bone health, immunity and cardiovascular and psychological health.
Now Issy is seeking to warn others of the little-known condition, which tends to strike without warning.
She said: “Ironically, at the point I was diagnosed with RED-S I was at my absolute peak, both mentally and physically.
“I was recording personal best times and had just completed my Sports Studies degree at Cardiff Met.
“I was on the slim side at 50kg but I had no idea there was anything wrong until I went to have my contraceptive implant removed.
“It was only when my periods, which had stopped, failed to resume, that it became clear there was a problem.
“At first the GP and a specialist gynaecologist put that down to my training regime, but I’d read about RED-S and asked them to investigate the condition and sure enough that’s what it was.”
Now Issy, who is studying for a Master’s Degree and preparing for the European Cup in Morocco later this year, is on medication to increase her oestrogen levels and is waiting for the results of nutrition tests.
“Hopefully this has been caught in time and we can correct any damage that’s been done,” she said, “but the frightening thing is not only that it’s such a silent condition but that it’s still a relatively unknown one.
“I share a house with medics and they aren’t taught about it at medical school – every student should be and particularly sports doctors.
“I just want other athletes, to be aware that if they are keeping up a heavy training schedule they must keep their calorie intake high and if their periods stop for any reason they must ask to be investigated for RED-S.”