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Pippa Woolven

Making sense of my own REDs experience

Disclaimer: Wherever possible, the information and advice offered on this site is based on the leading scientific research to date. Although the aim is to provide support and advice, this resource is no substitute for the diagnosis or treatment from a medical professional. Head here to find them.

I, Pippa, began this Q&A almost a decade ago, when I felt like the only one in the world asking these questions. It took years of connecting with the right medical, nutritional, and psychological specialists to find the answers I had desperately needed at the start of my own struggle with REDs and, when I began mentoring a few years later, it struck me that I hadn’t been alone after all. Countless others of all ages, genders, activities, and abilities across the globe have been seeking the same information for decades, and while of course I wish they weren’t, I'm now grateful to be able to share what I can from where I sit.

If you're someone who supports an athlete, your presence here is appreciated; you can make a difference by being well-informed. If you’re currently grappling with the condition yourself, I hope to help you feel less isolated. No matter where you are on your REDs journey or what has brought you here, countless others have travelled the same path. I was one of them; I overcame it, and I believe you can too.

What is REDs (or REDs)?
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REDs (or RED-S), short for Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport, refers to a condition where there the body doesn't get enough energy to meet the demands of exercise on top of essential daily functions such as growth, respiration, and digestion. Regardless of how this imbalance occurs (see "What causes REDs? below"), it can lead to severe and long-lasting health problems. These can include reduced bone density, impaired reproductive function, suppressed immune system, impaired cognitive function, depression, and anxiety. Athletes, specifically, face a increased risk of injury, prolonged recovery, and a decline in performance.

Who is at risk?
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What causes REDs?
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What are the signs and symptoms?
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What is the difference between REDs and the Female Athlete Triad?
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Is there a difference between REDs and Overtraining Syndrome?
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