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abdominal hysterectomy - the uterus
is removed through the abdomen via a surgical incision.
abortion - medical termination of a pregnancy before the
fetus has developed enough to survive outside the uterus.
adhesion - a band of scar tissue that joins normally separated
internal body structures, most often after surgery, inflammation, or injury
in the area.
adrenal glands - two glands, one on top of each kidney,
which produce a variety of hormones that affect nearly every body system.
advance directives - legal documents -- such as living
wills and durable powers of attorney for health care decisions -- that detail
a person's wishes regarding medical treatment prior to an illness or accident
that makes him/her unable to do so.
AFP (alpha-fetoprotein) - a protein produced by a developing
fetus that is present in amniotic fluid and, in smaller amounts, in a pregnant
woman's blood. Abnormal levels of AFP found in a blood test between the
15th and 18th weeks of pregnancy can indicate abnormalities in the fetus.
Alzheimer's disease - A progressive, incurable condition
that destroys brain cells, gradually causing loss of intellectual abilities
-- such as memory -- and extreme changes in personality and behavior.
amenorrhea - absence or cessation of menstrual periods.
amniocentesis - prenatal diagnostic procedure in which
a small amount of amniotic fluid is withdrawn through a needle inserted
through a pregnant woman's abdominal wall into the uterus, then examined
in a laboratory to detect genetic abnormalities in a fetus.
amniotic fluid - clear liquid that surrounds and protects
the fetus throughout pregnancy.
anemia - blood disorder caused by a deficiency of red blood
cells or hemoglobin (the oxygen-carrying protein in red blood cells); it
can result from abnormal blood loss, such as heavy menstrual bleeding.
anovulation - failure of the ovaries to produce or release
antibodies - proteins produced by the immune system to
fight specific bacteria, viruses, or other antigens.
antioxidants - compounds that protect against cell damage
inflicted by molecules called oxygen-free radicals, which are a major cause
of disease and aging.
assisted reproductive technology (ART) - medical procedures, such
as intrauterine insemination, that are performed to help infertile couples
basal body temperature - temperature of a person's body
taken first thing in the morning after several hours of sleep and before
any activity, including getting out of bed or talking; often charted to
determine the time of ovulation.
BMI (body mass index) - number, derived by using height
and weight measurements, that gives a general indication if weight falls
within a healthy range.
bone density - measure of the mass of bone in relation
to its volume to determine the risk of developing osteoporosis.
Braxton Hicks contractions - Relatively brief, painless
contractions of the uterus that may begin during the second half of pregnancy.
breast self-examination (BSE) - Routine, monthly examination
of the breasts.
CA-125 test - Blood test to detect an elevated level of
a protein antigen called CA-125, which may indicate ovarian cancer, among
calcium - mineral that gives strength to bones and teeth
and has an important role in muscle contraction, blood clotting, and nerve
cervical dysplasia - condition in which cells in the cervix
have undergone precancerous changes. It is detected by a Pap smear; treatment
can prevent it from progressing to cervical cancer.
cervix - neck and lower part of the uterus. It opens into
the cavity of the uterus at the top of the vagina.
cesarean delivery or section - surgical procedure to deliver
a baby through an incision in the lower abdomen and uterus.
chlamydia - Very common sexually transmitted disease or
urinary tract infection caused by a bacteria-like organism in the urethra
and reproductive system.
chromosomes - filaments of genetic material in every cell
nucleus that are made up of genes and that transmit genetic information
from one generation of cells to the next.
CIN (cervical intraepithelial neoplasia) - term used to
classify the degree of precancerous change in cells of the cervix in a condition
called cervical dysplasia.
colostrum - thin, white, first milk produced by the breasts
during late pregnancy and for a few days after childbirth. It provides a
nursing infant with essential nutrients and infection-fighting antibodies.
colposcopy - visual examination of the cervix and vagina
using a lighted magnifying instrument (colposcope).
cone biopsy - surgical removal of a cone-shaped section
of tissue from the cervix for the treatment of cervical dysplasia.
contractions, labor - rhythmic tightening of the muscular
wall of the uterus to push the fetus down through the vagina during childbirth.
CVS (chorionic villus sampling) - diagnostic test usually
performed between the 10th and 12th weeks of pregnancy in which a small
sample of tissue is taken from the placenta and examined to detect genetic
abnormalities in a fetus.
cystitis - inflammation of the bladder, usually caused
by a bacterial infection.
cystocele - condition in which weakened pelvic muscles
cause the base of the bladder to drop from its usual position down into
cystometry - diagnostic procedure that measures bladder
capacity and pressure changes as the bladder fills and empties.
cystoscopy - procedure in which a viewing tube (cystoscope)
is passed through the urethra to examine the inside of the bladder and ureters
or to treat a disorder.
cystourethrocele - condition that results when the urethra
and its supporting tissues weaken and drop into the vagina leading to stress
D and C (dilation and curettage) - surgical procedure in
which the cervix is dilated (widened) and the endometrium (lining of the
uterus) is scraped away.
DEXA (dual energy x-ray absorptiometry) - imaging technique
that uses a very low dose of radiation to measure bone density for the diagnosis
dysmenorrhea - pain or discomfort experienced just before
or during a menstrual period.
dyspareunia - pain in the vagina or pelvis experienced
during sexual intercourse.
dysplasia - an abnormality of growth.
eclampsia - a serious, life-threatening condition in late
pregnancy in which very high blood pressure can cause a woman to have seizures.
ecsubhead pregnancy - pregnancy that develops outside the
uterus, usually in one of the fallopian tubes.
endometrial hyperplasia - abnormal thickening of the endometrium
caused by excessive cell growth.
endometrial implants - fragments of endometrium that relocate
outside of the uterus, such as in the muscular wall of the uterus, ovaries,
fallopian tubes, vagina, or intestine, and bleed monthly just as endometrium
does in the uterus.
endometriosis - condition in which tissue resembling that
of the endometrium grows outside the uterus, on or near the ovaries or fallopian
tubes, or in other areas of the pelvic cavity.
endometrium - mucous membrane lining of the inner surface
of the uterus that grows during each menstrual cycle and is shed in menstrual
endoscopy - procedure in which a lighted viewing instrument
(endoscope) is used to look inside a body cavity or organ to diagnose or
enterocele - condition caused by weakened muscles in the
pelvis in which a portion of the intestines bulges into the top of the vagina.
epidural anesthesia - method of pain relief used during
surgery or childbirth in which an anesthetic is injected into a small area
surrounding the spinal cord (the epidural space) to block pain nerve impulses
from the lower half of the body.
episiotomy - incision made in the skin between the vagina
and anus to enlarge the vaginal opening and facilitate childbirth.
estrogen - key female hormone, produced mostly in the ovaries,
and essential for the healthy development and functioning of the female
reproductive system and in keeping bones strong and brain cells healthy.
estrogen replacement therapy (ERT) - use of the female
hormone estrogen to replace that which the body no longer produces naturally
after medical or surgical menopause.
fallopian tubes - two thin tubes that extend from each
side of the uterus, toward the ovaries as a passageway for eggs and sperm.
fecal occult-blood test - screening test for possible signs
of cancer of the colon or rectum.
fetal alcohol syndrome - set of serious birth defects that
can occur when a pregnant woman drinks excessive amounts of alcohol.
fibroadenoma - noncancerous, firm, rubbery lump in the
breast that is painless and moves around easily when touched.
fibrocystic breasts - noncancerous condition in which small
lumps and cysts develop in the breasts.
fibroids - noncancerous growths in, on, or within the walls
of the uterus that develop from muscle cells in the wall of the uterus.
folic acid - one of the B vitamins especially important
for a woman to take before conception to help prevent neural tube defects
in a fetus.
FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone) - hormone secreted by
the pituitary gland in the brain that stimulates the growth and maturation
of eggs in females and sperm in males and sex hormone production in both.
functional incontinence - difficulty reaching a restroom
in time because of physical conditions such as arthritis.
genes - basic, functional units of heredity, each occupying
a specific place on a chromosome.
genetic counseling - providing information, advice, and
testing to prospective parents at risk of having a child with a birth defect
or genetic disorder.
genital herpes - a sexually transmitted disease caused
by the herpes simplex virus.
genital warts - sexually transmitted disease caused by
the human papillomavirus (HPV).
gestational diabetes - form of diabetes that may develop
during pregnancy in women who do not otherwise have diabetes.
GIFT (gamete intrafallopian transfer) - method of treating infertility
by removing eggs from a woman's ovaries, combining them with sperm from
her partner or a donor in the laboratory, and placing the eggs and sperm
together in one of her fallopian tubes, where fertilization can occur.
gonorrhea - common sexually transmitted disease caused
by a bacterium, which can lead to infertility in women.
HRT (hormone replacement therapy) - use of the female hormones
estrogen and progestin (a synthetic form of progesterone) to replace those
the body no longer produces after menopause.
human chorionic gonadotropin - hormone produced by the
placenta during early pregnancy.
human papillomaviruses (HPVs) - viruses that can cause
warts. Some HPVs are sexually transmitted and cause wart-like growths on
the genitals. HPV is a major risk factor for cervical cancer.
hyperplasia, endometrial - excessive growth of cells in
hypothalamus - small structure at the base of the brain
that regulates many body functions, including appetite and body temperature.
hysterectomy - surgical removal of the uterus.
hysterosalpingography - x-ray examination of the uterus and fallopian
tubes that uses dye and is often performed to rule out tubal obstruction.
hysteroscopy - visual examination of the canal of the cervix and
the interior of the uterus using a viewing instrument (hysteroscope) inserted
through the vagina.
incontinence, urinary - uncontrollable, involuntary leaking
intrauterine insemination - treatment for infertility in
which semen is introduced into the uterus via a slim tube inserted through
in vitro fertilization - treatment for infertility in which
a woman's egg is fertilized outside her body, with her partner's sperm or
sperm from a donor.
laparoscope - a slender endoscope inserted through an incision in the abdominal wall in order to examine the abdominal organs or to perform minor surgery
laparoscopy - procedure in which a lighted viewing tube
called a laparoscope is inserted through tiny incisions in the abdomen for
examination or surgery.
laparotomy - surgery in the abdomen done through a large
incision in the abdomen.
LEEP (loop electrosurgical excision procedure) - procedure
for treating cervical dysplasia in which a fine wire loop and low-energy
current are used to remove abnormal tissue from the cervix.
LH (luteinizing hormone) - hormone secreted by the pituitary
gland in the brain that stimulates the growth and maturation of eggs in
females and sperm in males.
liposuction - type of cosmetic surgery in which localized
areas of fat are removed from beneath the skin using a suction-pump device
inserted through a small incision.
lumpectomy - breast-conserving surgical procedure for breast
cancer patients in which only the tumor and a small area of surrounding
tissue are removed.
lymph nodes - small glands clustered in the neck, armpits,
abdomen, and groin that supply infection-fighting cells to the bloodstream
and filter out bacteria and other antigens.
malignant - a condition, such as cancer, that tends to
become progressively worse, resistant to treatment, and frequently fatal.
mammography - a low-dose x-ray of the breasts.
mastectomy - surgical removal of all or part of the breast.
mastitis - infection of the milk ducts in the breast.
melanoma - the most serious, life-threatening form of skin
menopause - the cessation of a woman's menstrual periods.
metastasis - the spread of cancer from its original site
to other sites in the body.
miscarriage - spontaneous termination of a pregnancy before
the fetus has developed enough to survive outside the uterus.
morning-after pills - hormonal medications to prevent pregnancy
taken within 72 hours of having unprotected intercourse.
mycoplasma - very common sexually transmitted disease or
urinary tract infection caused by a bacteria-like organism in the urethra
and reproductive system.
myoma - a benign tumor composed of muscle tissue, commonly called a fibroid.
myomectomy - surgical procedure done to remove fibroids
from the uterus and leaving the uterus intact.
needle biopsy - biopsy procedure in which a small sample
of tissue is removed through a hollow needle.
neural tube defect - type of birth defect, such as spina
bifida, that results from failure of the spinal cord or brain to develop
normally in a fetus.
oncogenes - genes that promote normal cell division.
oophorectomy - surgical removal of one or both ovaries.
osteoporosis - disorder in which bones thin and become
brittle and more prone to fracture; most common in women after menopause
due to estrogen deficiency.
ovaries - pair of small glands, located on either side
of the uterus, in which egg cells develop and are stored and the female
sex hormones estrogen and progesterone are produced.
overflow incontinence - the leakage of small amounts of
urine from a bladder that is always full.
ovulation - release of a mature egg from an ovary.
oxytocin - hormone produced by the pituitary gland that
stimulates contractions of the uterus during labor and release of milk during
pap test/smear - test in which a sample of cells is taken
from the cervix and examined to detect cancer or precancerous changes.
perimenopause - transition period of waning ovarian function
that precedes menopause.
pessary - rubber or plastic device that is inserted through
the vagina to help hold the uterus in place in women who have prolapse of
PID (pelvic inflammatory disease) - infection of the upper
female reproductive tract.
pituitary gland - gland at the base of the brain that secretes
hormones and regulates and controls other hormone-secreting glands and many
body processes, including reproduction.
placenta - organ that develops in the uterus during pregnancy
to link the blood supplies of a pregnant woman and fetus to provide nutrients
and remove waste products from the fetus.
placental abruption - premature detachment of the placenta from
the wall of the uterus causing severe bleeding that is life threatening
to both a pregnant woman and fetus.
placenta previa - abnormal location of the placenta in
the lower part of the uterus, near or over the cervix.
PMS (premenstrual syndrome) - range of physical and emotional
symptoms that some women experience prior to their monthly periods.
polyp - growth that projects, usually on a stem, from a
membrane in the body and can sometimes develop into cancer.
preeclampsia - disorder of pregnancy characterized by increased
blood pressure, water retention, and protein in the urine.
preterm labor - labor that begins before the 37th week
progesterone - a female sex hormone, produced by the ovaries
during the second half of the menstrual cycle.
progestin - synthetic form of the female sex hormone progesterone.
prolactin - hormone produced by the pituitary gland that
stimulates breast development and milk production.
prolapse of the uterus - displacement of the uterus down
into the vagina caused by a weakening of supporting tissues in the pelvis.
pudendal block - pain relieving procedure used during childbirth
in which an anesthetic is injected into tissues surrounding the pudendal
nerves on either side of the vagina. It blocks pain in the tissues between
the vagina and anus.
pyelonephritis - kidney infection.
radiation therapy - treatment that uses x-rays or other
forms of radiation to destroy or slow the spread of diseased cells.
rape - forced or manipulated nonconsensual sexual contact,
including vaginal or anal intercourse, oral sex, or penetration with an
rectocele - condition in which weakening of the lower vaginal
wall causes the rectum to bulge into the vagina.
safe sex - sex in a monogamous relationship where neither
party is infected with a sexually transmitted disease or urinary tract infection
is considered to be "safe". However, many healthcare professionals believe
there really is no such thing as "safe" sex and the only way to be truly
safe is to abstain because all forms of sexual contact carry some risk.
salpingectomy - surgical removal of a fallopian tube.
serotonin - chemical messenger in the brain that affects
emotions, behavior, and thought.
sigmoidoscopy - examination of the rectum and lower part
of the colon (sigmoid colon) using a flexible viewing tube passed through
SIL (squamous intraepithelial lesion) - like CIN, SIL is
a term used to classify the degree of precancerous change in cells of the
cervix in a condition called cervical dysplasia.
spinal anesthesia - injection of an anesthetic into the
area around the spinal cord to block pain sensation during surgery.
squamous cell cancer - a slow-growing cancer in cells in
the top layer of the skin.
STD (sexually transmitted disease) - infection spread through sexual
intercourse and other intimate sexual contact.
stress incontinence - involuntary leaking of urine during
activities that increase pressure inside the abdomen, such as coughing,
sneezing, or jogging.
testosterone - key male sex hormone, which stimulates bone
and muscle growth and the development of male sex characteristics.
thrombosis, deep-vein - formation of blood clots in veins
deep inside the legs.
trichomoniasis - very common vaginitis caused by a single-celled
organism usually transmitted during sexual contact.
tubal ligation - surgical sterilization procedure in which
the fallopian tubes are sealed or cut to prevent sperm from reaching an
ultrasound - diagnostic imaging procedure that uses high-frequency
sound waves to create a picture of internal body structures on a video screen.
urge incontinence - the inability to hold urine long enough
to reach a restroom.
ureters - two tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to
urethra - narrow channel through which urine passes from
the bladder out of the body.
uterus - hollow, muscular organ in the center of the female
pelvis that sheds its lining each month during menstruation and in which
a fertilized egg implants and grows into a fetus.
urethritis - infection limited to the urethra.
vacuum aspiration - procedure in which a suction tube attached
to a vacuum pump is inserted through the vagina into the uterus to loosen
and remove its contents.
vacuum extraction - procedure used to ease delivery by
applying a metal or plastic cup to the baby's scalp and using suction to
pull the baby gradually out of the vagina.
vaginal hysterectomy - the uterus is removed through the
vaginitis - irritation, redness, or swelling of the vaginal
tissues, usually resulting from a bacterial infection.
vaginosis, bacterial - very common vaginal infection characterized
by symptoms such as increased vaginal discharge or itching, burning, or
redness in the genital area.
varicose veins - enlarged, curving veins just beneath the
skin, usually in the legs.
vulva - external, visible part of the female genital area.
yeast infection - common fungal infection of the vagina,
characterized by itching, burning, or redness of the vaginal area.
ZIFT (zygote intrafallopian transfer) - method of treating infertility
by removing eggs from a woman's ovaries, fertilizing them in the laboratory
with sperm from her partner or a donor, and inserting one or more of the
fertilized eggs into one of her fallopian tubes.