The women athletes I treat have never been stronger — or more vulnerable.
This is an extraordinary time for female athletes, especially in the United States. Serena Williams — arguably the greatest American athlete of all time — won the Australian Open while pregnant. Simone Biles crushed international gymnastics at the 2016 Olympics. Mirai Nagasu just landed a triple axel at the Winter Games, and our women’s soccer team is expected to continue its dominance at the World Cup next summer. As an orthopaedic surgeon who cares for young female athletes (and as a woman and sports fan), it’s impossible for me not to be thrilled by these incredible achievements.
American women and girls are participating in sports as never before. Since the passage of Title IX in the 1970s, the number of U.S. high-school girls playing sports has increased tenfold. Fifty years ago, women were told we couldn’t run marathons lest our uteruses fall out (seriously). That kind of ridiculous lore is now (I hope) unimaginable to young runners who compete at any distance they choose. Thanks to cultural progress, the profound benefits of sports participation — better health and habits, self-assuredness, teamwork — are available for young women to reap as well as for their male peers.