Gyno Gab Jargon

The terms here are briefly defined to give you a quick reference, and some of the terms are very simplified. The goal is to gather and clarify terms used on Gyno Gab and in Menopause: Making Peace With Change, and to give our patients some insight into how we suggest they approach these issues. Use the index of blog terms to read more specifically on these topics. More terms will be added to this page.

Acetylcholine—a neurotransmitter in the brain, which helps to regulate memory, and in the peripheral nervous system, where it affects the actions of skeletal and smooth muscle. This neurotransmitter is often deficient in the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease.

Acetylcholinesterase inhibitors—a class of drugs that inhibit the enzyme that breaks down acetylcholine in the brain; thought to be of some benefit in treating or slowing the progression of Alzheimer's disease.

Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) —a syndrome of the immune system, characterized by opportunistic diseases, including pneumonia, tuberculosis and herpes zoster. The syndrome is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which is transmitted in body fluids, notably blood and semen, through sexual contact, sharing of contaminated needles, accidental needle sticks or contact with contaminated blood.

Adenomatous hyperplasia—closely packed endometrial glands, with a single layer of cells with slightly enlarged nuclei.

Adenomyosis—implantation of gland tissue in muscle.

Adhesions—pelvic adhesions are abnormal bands of scar tissue that form in the pelvis and cause organs to stick or bind to one another. Adhesions occur in the majority of women who have pelvic surgery. Adhesions are a common and occasionally serious outcome of surgery of all kinds, including cesarean section, hysterectomy, surgical treatment of endometriosis, myomectomy (fibroid removal) and ovarian surgery. Adhesions that form after surgery in the pelvic area are among the leading causes of post-operative pelvic pain, infertility and small bowel obstruction.

Adiana: A sterilization procedure for women using plugs in the fallopian tubes, inserted through a minor vaginal surgery 

Adipose—pertaining to fat.

Adrenal glands—glands located near the kidneys.

Alzheimer's disease—progressive mental deterioration characterized by loss of memory, ability to calculate and visual-spatial orientation. Begins in late mid-life and usually results in death within 5-10 years.

Amenorrhea—absence or abnormal cessation of the menstrual periods.

Amnesia—disturbance of the long-term memory; inability to recall past experiences.

Androgens—hormones that stimulate activity of the male sex organs and promote development of male sex characteristics. Women also have small amounts of natural androgens.

Anemia—a decrease in the number of red blood cells, or the amount of hemoglobin in the blood. Generally manifests with pallor of the skin and mucous membranes, shortness of breath, heart palpitations and fatigue.

Angina—a severe constricting pain in the chest, often radiating from the diaphragm to the shoulders, neck or jaw.

Anorgasmia—inability to experience an orgasm.

Anovulation—suspension or cessation of ovulation.

Anovulatory bleeding—menstrual-type bleeding that occurs without recent ovulation.

Antacid—a substance that neutralizes acid, especially stomach acid.

Anterior repair—a surgical procedure performed to push the bladder back into a more normal anatomic position, and keep it there. It is often used to correct a cystocele and to manage stress urinary incontinence.

Anticoagulant—a substance that prevents blood from clotting, e.g. aspirin, warfarin.

Antiestrogenic response—a response that counteracts or suppresses estrogenic activity.

Antioxidant—a substance that neutralizes free radicals in the body; thought to be important in slowing the aging process and boosting the immune system’s ability to fight disease.

Antispasmodic—a drug or substance that prevents or alleviates muscle spasms.

AP repair—a surgical procedure to correct a cystocele and rectocele; anterior-posterior repair.

Aphrodisiac—a substance that arouses or increases sexual desire.

Areola—a circular, pigmented area surrounding the nipple.

ART—Assisted Reproductive Technology; encompasses all the therapies, not just in vitro fertilization (IVF).
ASCUS-H—atypical squamous cells that cannot rule out a high grade change.
ASC-US—atypical squamous cells of undetermined significance; a change of the Pap smear cells that is too subtle to be diagnosed as any particular condition.

Ashkenazi Jews—a population of Jews originating in the 10th century in the Rhine area of Germany and later Poland and Lithuania.

Asymptomatic phase—asymptomatic means there are no symptoms. A person is asymptomatic if an illness or condition is present without recognizable symptoms.

Atherosclerosis—hardening of the arteries due to irregular deposits of lipids in the medium and large-sized arteries. These deposits lead to narrowing and eventual blockage of the blood vessels.

Atrophic vaginitis—thinning and atrophy of the lining of the vagina, usually due to decreased estrogen; common in postmenopausal women.

Atrophy—wasting of tissues, organs or the entire body. Occurs as a result of diminished cell proliferation, decreased cell volume, malnutrition, lessened function or hormonal changes.

Bacterial Vaginosis—discharge, odor, overgrowth of common vaginal bacteria.

Barbiturates—a class of drugs used to treat anxiety. In low doses, barbiturates reduce anxiety, respiration, blood pressure, heart rate and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.

Bartholin gland—also called the greater vestibular gland. One of two mucus-secreting glands in the lower part of the vagina; produces vaginal secretions. See also Skene’s gland.

Benzodiazepines—a group of drugs that slow down the central nervous system; CNS depressants. May be used to treat anxiety and insomnia. Includes the drugs Xanax, Valium and Klonopin.

Beta-blockers—also called b-adrenergic blockers. Class of drugs used to treat cardiovascular diseases.

Bethesda system—a comprehensive system for reporting findings on cervical Papanicolaou (Pap) smears; includes observations on the adequacy of the sample, inflammation, infection, changes in cells that indicate malignancy, and hormonal status.

Bilateral oophorectomy—the surgical removal of the left and right ovaries.

Bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy (BSO)—surgical removal of the left and right ovaries and fallopian tubes.

BI-RADS—Breast Imaging and Reporting System; used for scoring abnormalities on a mammogram .

Bisphosphonates—a class of drugs used to prevent and treat osteoporosis; includes Fosamax (alendronate) and Actonel (risedronate).

Body Mass Index (BMI)—an approximation of nutritional status, which correlates with the risk of diseases associated with obesity. Because it does not distinguish between excess fat and excess lean body mass, it is not a useful measurement in competitive athletes, body builders, pregnant women or children.

Bone mineral density (BMD)—quantitative measurement of the mineral content of bone. Used as an indicator of the structural strength of bone, and as a screening test for osteoporosis.

BRCA1 and BRCA2—tumor suppressor genes, mutations in which can lead to the development of breast and ovarian cancer.

Breakthrough bleeding—blood flow that occurs between periods, particularly in women using hormonal contraception. Breakthrough bleeding is associated with the amount of estrogen in a pill.

Breast self-exam—a breast exam performed monthly by a woman on herself. It involves looking at the breasts, and feeling the breast tissue to check for lumps.

Bromocryptine—A drug that reduces levels of the pituitary hormone prolactin.

Bronchodilators—a class of drugs that open up the bronchi in the lungs to assist with breathing.

Burch procedure—a surgical procedure in which the lower bladder is supported by suturing the vagina to the pelvic ligaments. This corrects the weakness so that during an activity like coughing or sneezing, the bladder does not move down and allow leakage of urine.

CA-125—a substance that is associated with surface, or epithelial, cancers of the ovary.

CAH—Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia; an adrenal disorder leading to abnormal male hormone levels.

Calcitonin—a hormone produced by the parathyroid, thyroid and thymus glands; increases deposition of calcium and phosphate in the bones and lowers the level of calcium in the blood.

Carcinoma in situ—a cancer that has not spread to surrounding or distant tissues; generally more curable than an invasive or metastatic carcinoma.

Cardinal ligament—a fibrous band attached to the uterine cervix and the vault of the lateral fornix of the vagina.

Cardio C-reactive protein—C-reactive protein appears in the blood 6 to 10 hours after an acute inflammatory process or tissue destruction and peaks within 48 to 72 hours. As a sensitive marker of inflammation, the cardiac CRP test is becoming recognized as an accurate predictor of cardiovascular problems including risk of a heart attack. It identifies patients at risk for a first heart attack, even with low to moderate risk lipid (cholesterol) levels.

Cardiovascular system—relating to the heart, the blood vessels and the circulation.

Catheter—a flexible tube that can be passed through the urethra into the bladder to drain it of urine, or to fill it with fluid.

CC—Clomiphene Citrate; used for ovulation.

Cecum—a structure ending in a cul-de-sac.

Cerebral cortex—the gray matter, or “thinking” part of our brain; responsible for language, speech, information processing, sensory processing, coordination of complex movement.

Cervical biopsy—the surgical removal of tissue from the cervix, often to diagnose or treat cervical cancer.

Cervical canal—a spindle-shaped canal extending from the neck of the uterus to the vagina.

Cervical cancer—cancer in the cervix, the lower, narrow part of the uterus (womb). The cervix forms a canal that opens into the vagina, which leads to the outside of the body. Cervical cancer is a disease that can be very serious, but it is a preventable disease.

Cervical cap—a thimble-shaped rubber contraceptive device. It fits snugly onto the cervix and prevents sperm from reaching the uterus. Can be used with a spermicide for extra protection.

Cervical polyp—a fingerlike growth originating from the mucosal surface of the cervix or endocervical canal. These small, fragile growths hang from a stalk and protrude through the cervical opening. Cervical polyps may be the source of vaginal discharge, irregular bleeding and bleeding after intercourse (post-coital bleeding). Cervical polyps are relatively common, especially in women over age 20 who have had children. Only a single polyp is present in most cases, but sometimes two or three are found. Typically, polyps are benign and easily removed. Regrowth of polyps is uncommon.

Cesarean Birth, Cesarean Section, C-section—the operative removal of a baby to deliver at the time of birth.

Chlamydia—a curable sexually transmitted infection, caused by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis. Many women are infected and don't have any symptoms. Those who do have symptoms may have an abnormal discharge (mucus or pus) from the vagina or pain while urinating. These early symptoms may be very mild. Symptoms usually appear within one to three weeks after being infected. The infection may move inside the body if it is not treated. There, it can cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). C. trachomatis can cause inflamed rectum and inflammation of the lining of the eye (“pink eye”). The bacteria also can infect the throat from oral sexual contact with an infected partner. The infection can be treated with antibiotics such as azithromycin or doxycycline.

Cholesterol—a soft, waxy substance found among the fats in the blood and in all of the body's cells. It is used to form cell membranes, some hormones and has numerous other important functions. A high level of cholesterol in the blood—hypercholesterolemia—is a major risk factor for coronary heart disease, which leads to heart attack. Cholesterol and other fats can't dissolve in the blood. They have to be transported to and from the cells by special carriers called lipoproteins.

CIN—Cervical Intraepithelial Neoplasia; a precancerous change of the cervix.

Circadian rhythm disturbance—a disturbance in the normal biological variations and rhythms that have a cycle of around 24 hours.

Climacteric—the period of hormonal, physical and transitory psychological changes occurring in menopause. From the Greek klimakter, the rung of a ladder.

Clinical breast exam (CBE)—an examination of the breasts performed by a doctor or other healthcare professional. A thorough CBE should last between three and five minutes. During this time, the health care provider will look at the breasts, and also move his or her finger pads across the breast area, varying the pressure in order to feel the breast tissues. The examiner palpates the areas around the breasts, which is also breast tissue: under the arms, around the collarbone, across to the sternum (breast bone) and down to the ribcage.

CKC—Cold Knife Cone; an operation on the cervix used to treat or diagnose cervical pre-cancer and cancer. Surgical cutting of the cervix in a cone shaped piece is done with a knife and is selected for the most severe forms of pre-cancer or early invasive disease. It causes more bleeding, infection and is more technically difficult than a LEEP, and may cause additional scaring to the cervix.

CLC—Corpus Luteum Cyst; the small cyst that forms after the follicle from those same cells, within the ovary, after the egg has been released. It produces progesterone, and it shrivels on its own if a women is not pregnant.

COC—Combination Oral Contraceptives; contain both estrogen and progesterone.

Collagen—the major protein of connective tissue (tendons), cartilage and bone. Collagen provides structure to our bodies, protecting and supporting the softer tissues and connecting them with the skeleton. Almost one quarter of the protein in our bodies is collagen.

Colonoscopy—a visual examination of the inner surface of the colon by means of a flexible fiber optic endoscope. Used to diagnose and treat problems in the colon, such as diverticulosis, ulcerative colitis and colon polyps.

Complex carbohydrates—complex carbohydrates, or polysaccharides, are made mostly of long strands of simple sugars. They are found in grains, fruits, legumes (peas and beans), and other vegetables. Complex carbohydrates include dietary fiber and starches.

Conjugated estrogen (Premarin)—a combination of estrogenic hormones used to treat menopausal symptoms, to prevent osteoporosis in postmenopausal women and as replacement therapy in other conditions of inadequate estrogen production. Conjugated estrogens are extracted and purified from the urine of pregnant horses. A synthetic conjugated estrogen product (Cenestin) is also available, as are combination products.

Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP)—a technique of respiratory therapy in which the airway pressure is maintained above the atmospheric pressure by pressurization of the ventilatory circuit.

Contraceptive patch—a transdermal contraceptive patch applied to the abdomen, buttocks or upper arm. The patch works by slowly releasing a combination of estrogen and progestin hormones through the skin. These hormones prevent ovulation (release of an egg from the ovary) and thicken the cervical mucus, creating a barrier to prevent sperm from entering the uterus. When used correctly, it is about 99 percent effective as birth control, except for women weighing 198 pounds or more, when it is only about 92 percent effective.

Contraceptive ring—a vaginal contraceptive containing a combination of estrogen and progestin hormones released from a flexible polymer ring. The product is available by prescription only. The contraceptive ring consists of a flexible, transparent, colorless vaginal ring about 2.1 inches in diameter, containing the hormones etonogestrel and ethinyl estradiol, which are similar to the active ingredients in some oral contraceptives. After the ring is inserted, it releases a continuous low dose of the hormones. A new ring is used each month for continuous contraception.

Contraceptive sponge—a soft, disposable, polyurethane foam device, impregnated with a spermicide such as nonoxynol-9. Available without a prescription, it allows for up to 24 hours of continuous use, without the need to remove the device or add more spermicide.

Cooper’s ligament—this is the body’s own natural bra. This ligament helps hold the breast up and keeps it from sagging.

Corpus luteum—a yellow, progesterone-secreting mass of cells that forms from an ovarian follicle after the release of a mature egg. The corpus luteum produces progesterone and, in the event of fertilization, provides the required progesterone until the placenta is formed. The corpus luteum also produces some estrogen. In the absence of fertilization, the life span of the corpus luteum is 14 days.

Corticosteroids—natural hormones produced by the cortex of the adrenal gland; a class of synthetic anti-inflammatory drugs, often used to treat disorders such as asthma, allergic rhinitis, eczema and rheumatoid arthritis.

Cortisone—a steroid hormone produced by the adrenal cortex. Cortisone injections can be used to treat the inflammation of small areas of the body (local injections) or they can be used to treat inflammation that is widespread throughout the body (systemic injections).

Cough stress test—a test in which the patient coughs forcefully while the physician observes the urethra for urine loss. Instantaneous leakage with coughing indicates a diagnosis of stress urinary incontinence.

Crohn’s disease—an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), the general name for diseases that cause inflammation in the intestines. Crohn’s disease can be difficult to diagnose because its symptoms are similar to other intestinal disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome and to another type of IBD called ulcerative colitis.

Cryoablation—the use of liquid nitrogen to freeze a particular organ or area to extremely low temperatures to kill the tissue, e.g., any pre-cancerous tissue. The terms cryoablation or cryotherapy may be interchangeable.

Cyclic mastalgia—breast tenderness or pain associated with the menstrual cycle.

Cyclical bleeding—vaginal bleeding occurring in a predictable and regular pattern, related to the menstrual cycle.

Cystic hyperplasia—the glandular cells of the endometrium are enlarged and irregular with columnar cells that have some atypia. Simple endometrial hyperplasias can cause bleeding, but are not thought to be premalignant.

Cystocele—hernia of the bladder, usually into the vagina and introitus.

Cystometrics—an evaluation of the pressure/volume relationship of the bladder.

Degenerative joint disease—also called osteoarthritis; a progressive disease affecting the weight-bearing joints, especially the knees, hips and back. Occurs when the cartilage, which normally cushions the joints, deteriorates, causing pain and buildup of bony cysts.

Dementia—a group of symptoms that are caused by changes in brain function. Signs of dementia include changes in memory, personality and behavior. Dementia makes it hard for a person to carry out normal daily activities.

Depo-Provera (DMPA)—the contraceptive shot; it has only progesterone.

Dermoid Cyst—a common tumor of the ovary, not usually cancerous, that has any component that an egg might be able to produce. Hair, fat and teeth may be present in the tumor. 

Detrusor muscle—a large muscle that is involved in bladder control. Detrusor muscle instability leads to uncontrolled urine loss and frequent urination, and is a common cause of overactive bladder.

Diaphragm—a contraceptive device; a thin rubber dome with a springy and flexible rim. It is inserted into the vagina, fits over the cervix and is held in place by vaginal muscles. A diaphragm can hold spermicide in place over the opening to the uterus.

Dihydroepiandosterone (DHEA)—a male hormone made by the adrenal gland.

Digitalis—a drug used to treat congestive heart failure (CHF) and heart rhythm problems (atrial arrhythmias). Digitalis can increase blood flow throughout your body and reduce swelling in your hands and ankles. Originally discovered in 1775 by a Scottish physician, and extracted from the purple foxglove, Digitalis purpurea.

Dilatation and curettage (D&C)—a gynecologic procedure in which the lining of the uterus (endometrium) is scraped away. A D&C is commonly used to obtain tissue for microscopic evaluation to rule out cancer. D&C may also be used to diagnose and treat heavy menstrual bleeding, and to diagnose endometrial polyps and uterine fibroids. It can be used as a treatment as well, to remove pregnancy tissue after a miscarriage, incomplete abortion or childbirth. Endometrial polyps may be removed, and sometimes, benign uterine tumors (fibroids) may be scraped away.

Diuretic—any substance that increases urination. Diuretics stimulate the kidneys to produce more urine, flushing excess fluids and minerals (e.g., sodium) from the body. Diuretics can lower blood pressure, which substantially reduces the risk of stroke and moderately lessens the risk of heart attack in hypertensive patients.

Dong quai—the root of this plant (Angelica sinensis) has been used for over a thousand years as a spice, tonic and medicine in China, Korea and Japan. Although there have been few definitive studies on dong quai, it is thought to relieve constipation, increase red blood cell count (which helps treat anemia) and provide relief from menstrual disorders such as cramps, irregular menstrual cycles, infrequent periods, premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and menopausal symptoms.

Dowager’s hump—an abnormal curvature of the upper back with round shoulders and stooped posture, often caused by bone loss and compression of the vertebrae in osteoporosis.

Dropped bladder—common name for cystocele.

Dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA)—low energy x-rays are passed through the bones to measure the mineral (calcium) content of the bones; the technology behind the bone mineral density (BMD) test.

Dyslipidemia—abnormal levels of one or more lipids (LDL or HDL cholesterol, triglycerides) in the blood; a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

Dyspareunia—pain that occurs with sexual intercourse. There are many possible causes including endometriosis, infection, tipped uterus or emotional factors.

Ectopic Pregnancy (EP)—a pregnancy located outside the uterus, usually in the fallopian tube 

Elixir—from the Arabic al-iksir, the philosopher’s stone. An imaginary liquor capable of transmuting metals into gold; also, one for producing life indefinitely; as in elixir vitae: the elixir of life.

Endometrial ablation—a surgical procedure, using various techniques to remove the endometrium, the lining of the uterus.

Endometrial biopsy—the removal of a small piece of tissue from the endometrium to diagnose or treat abnormal bleeding problems, amenorrhea or endometrial precancer or cancer.

Endometrial cancer—a cancer of the lining of the uterus.

Endometrial hyperplasia—an increase in the number of cells in the lining of the uterus. It is not cancer, but sometimes it develops into cancer. Heavy menstrual periods, bleeding between periods, and bleeding after menopause are common symptoms of hyperplasia. It is most common after age 40.

Endometrial polyp—a small area of overgrowth in the lining of the uterus. Polyps may cause abnormal bleeding or spotting. They are rarely cancerous. Polyps are easily removed.

Endometriosis—a condition in which endometrial tissue grows in areas outside the endometrium, particularly on or over the ovaries, behind the uterus, or on the bowel or bladder. It is one of the most common gynecologic diseases, and the most frequent symptoms are pelvic pain, extremely painful menstrual cramps and infertility.

Endometrium—the blood-rich mucus membrane lining of the uterus. This lining is shed during the menstrual period, and is the initial source of nourishment for an implanted embryo in the earliest stages of pregnancy.

Endorphins—a group of neurotransmitters and natural pain-killing substances in the brain.

Episiotomy—a surgical incision in the perineum, the area of skin between the vagina and the anus, to widen the birth canal.

Erectile dysfunction—sometimes called impotence, is the repeated inability to get or keep an erection firm enough for sexual intercourse.

Erectile tissue—a special kind of tissue that swells and grows bigger, simply because blood flows into it and can’t get out. Erectile tissue has arteries that can carry blood into it, large spaces that can be filled with the trapped blood, and veins that can be blocked to trap the blood inside. Humans have erectile tissue mainly in the penis and in the clitoris.

ERT—Estrogen Replacement Therapy; now more accurately termed ET or just estrogen therapy.

Essure—sterilization by placing metal coil tubal inserts.

Estradiol—one of the three main types of estrogen found in the human body. Estradiol (E2) is the primary estrogen produced by the ovaries.

Estrogen—a group of hormones found in the human body, including estradiol, estrone and estriol. Synthetic forms are available in many different drug dosages and combinations.

Estrogen receptors—specialized protein molecules that sit on the surface of cells. They act like an on/off switch for a particular activity in the cell. A cell with an estrogen receptor will be affected by the levels of estrogen in that tissue.

Estrogenic response—the cellular or tissue-specific response to estrogen, or an estrogen-like substance.

Estrogen-receptor positive (or negative)—the presence (or absence) of estrogen receptors, usually in regard to breast cancer cells.

Estrone—a weak estrogen; the most abundant estrogen found in the body after menopause. Estrone (E1) is formed from estradiol.

Evening primrose oil—oil made from the seeds of evening primrose, a plant praised for centuries as a “cure-all”. The seeds contain gamma-linoleic acid (GLA), an essential fatty acid. Used to treat diabetic nerve damage, osteoporosis, eczema, arthritis, ADHD and PMS as well as other conditions, but its effectiveness is not well studied.

Exogenous hormonal bleeding—bleeding caused by exogenous (i.e. added) hormones; for example, oral contraceptives or hormone therapy.

Fallopian tube—one of the tubes leading on either side from the ovary to the uterus, which transports a fertilized egg to the uterus; named after Gabriele Fallopio (1523-1562), an Italian anatomist.

Familial ovarian cancer—a particularly deadly form of ovarian cancer. This form of cancer has a genetic component, and a woman’s risk is significantly increased if she has one or more female blood relatives with the disease. Familial ovarian cancer tends to present at an earlier age, and is much harder to treat than non-familial forms.

Female condom—a loose-fitting polyurethane sheath that lines the vagina. It has a soft ring on each end. The ring at the closed end is inserted in the vagina to keep it in place during sex. The other ring stays outside the vagina and partly covers the labia. Polyurethane is a strong and thin plastic that conducts heat while being an effective barrier against STD/HIV and unintended pregnancy.

Fertilized egg—the zygote, formed by fusion of the sperm cell and the egg cell.

Fibrocystic breast disease—a benign condition characterized by round lumps (cysts) that move freely within the breast tissue. These lumps are usually tender to the touch and can vary from soft to firm. The tenderness may increase as menstruation approaches. Often the cysts fill with fluid and can enlarge in response to the increase in hormonal levels in the premenstrual period.

Fibroid—a benign (noncancerous) tumor that grows on or within the muscle tissue of the uterus. Also called a leiomyoma.

Flavonoids—a class of water-soluble plant pigments. While they are not considered essential nutrients, some flavonoids support health by strengthening capillaries and other connective tissue, and some function as anti-inflammatory, antihistaminic or antiviral agents.

Folic acid (folate)—a water soluble B-vitamin that helps build healthy cells. “Water soluble” means it does not stay in your body for very long, so you need to take it every day to obtain the maximum benefit. Folic acid (a synthetic form) is found in multivitamins and fortified breads and cereals. The natural form, folate, is found in dark green leafy vegetables and fruit juices.

Follicle—an egg-containing structure in the cortex of the ovary. The oocyte (immature egg) is enclosed by a layer of granulosa cells, which provide a nourishing microenvironment. The number and size of follicles vary depending on the age and reproductive state of the female.

Follicle stimulating hormone (FSH)—a hormone produced by the pituitary gland. In women, it helps control the menstrual cycle and the production of eggs by the ovaries. The amount of FSH varies throughout a woman's menstrual cycle and is highest just before she ovulates. FSH levels increase when a woman reaches menopause.

Free radical—an atom carrying an unpaired electron. Free radicals are very unstable and react quickly with other compounds, trying to capture the needed electron to gain stability. Generally, free radicals attack the nearest stable molecule, “stealing” its electron. When the “attacked” molecule loses its electron, it becomes a free radical itself, beginning a chain reaction. Once started, the process can cascade, finally resulting in the disruption of a living cell.

Gail scale—a model used to assess a woman's lifetime risk of breast cancer, based on her personal and family history.

Gallstones—clusters of solid material that form in the gallbladder. They are made mostly of cholesterol. Gallstones may occur as one large stone or as many small ones. They vary in size and may be as large as a golf ball or as small as a grain of sand.

Genital warts—condylomata acuminata or venereal warts are the most easily recognized sign of genital HPV infection. Many people, however, have a genital HPV infection without genital warts. Some types of HPV cause common skin warts, such as those found on the hands and soles of the feet. These types of HPV do not cause genital warts.

Ginseng—a plant root native to eastern Asia and North America, and has been in use as a folk medicine and tonic amongst the peoples of the Far East as well as amongst Native Americans, for thousands of years. Among its many touted benefits, Ginseng is thought to help insomnia, hot flashes, sexual dysfunction and other menopausal symptoms.

Glucose tolerance test (GTI)—a test to see if a person has diabetes. The test is given in a lab or doctor’s office in the morning before the person has eaten. A first sample of blood is taken from the person. Then the person drinks a liquid that has glucose (sugar) in it. After one hour, a second blood sample is drawn, and, after another hour, a third sample is taken. The object is to see how well the body reduces glucose in the blood over time.

Glycogen—a starch-like carbohydrate that is found in the liver and muscles of humans which is readily converted to glucose. Glycogen is formed by the liver from glucose in the bloodstream and is stored in the liver; conversion of glucose to glycogen and glycogen to glucose together are the usual mechanisms for maintenance of normal levels of blood sugar.

Gonadotropin releasing hormone (GNRH)—a hormone released by the hypothalamus that, in turn, stimulates release of follicle stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone from the pituitary gland.

Gonorrhea—a curable sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by a bacterium called Neisseria gonorrhoeae. These bacteria can infect the genital tract, the mouth and the rectum. In women, the cervix is the first place of infection.

Grand multipara—having given birth five or more times. The term “multipara” alone applies to any woman who has given birth two or more times.

G-spot—The Grafenberg spot is thought to be an area on the anterior or front wall of the vagina, between the opening and the cervix, which is often found to be extremely sensitive to stimulation. It is hypothesized that the G-spot is either 1) a bundle of nerves coming from the clitoris, or 2) a gland or series of glands that produces lubrication. It is thought to be perhaps analogous to the prostate gland in men.

Hemoglobin A1c test—a test to measure average blood sugar over time. In the blood, glucose binds irreversibly to hemoglobin molecules within red blood cells. The amount of glucose that is bound to hemoglobin is directly tied to the concentration of glucose in the blood. Since red blood cells have a lifespan of approximately 90 days, measuring the amount of glucose bound to hemoglobin can provide an assessment of average blood sugar control during the 60 to 90 days prior to the test. Since the test results give feedback on the previous two to three months, having an HbA1c test done every three months will give you a good indication of your average blood sugar.

Herniated disc—a fragment of the disc nucleus, which is pushed into the spinal canal through a tear or “rupture”. In the herniated disc’s new position, it presses on spinal nerves, producing a sharp, severe pain down the entire leg and into the foot.

Herpes virus—There are more than 80 known types of the herpes virus, but only eight are known to cause disease in humans. The most common herpes viruses are Herpes Simplex Virus 1 (HSV-1) and Herpes Simplex Virus 2 (HSV-2). These look identical under a microscope, and either type can infect the mouth or genitals. Usually HSV-1 affects areas above the waist causing cold sores or fever blisters, and HSV-2 affects areas below the waist causing genital herpes. Both viruses can cause outbreaks in either area. Other common herpes infections include chickenpox (varicella zoster) and shingles (herpes zoster).

High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol—transports cholesterol from the tissues of the body to the liver so it can be eliminated in the bile. HDL cholesterol is therefore considered the “good” cholesterol. The higher the HDL cholesterol level, the lower the risk of coronary artery disease.

Hirsutism—the presence of excessive bodily and facial hair.

Homocysteine—an amino acid (protein building block) that is produced in the human body. Homocysteine may irritate blood vessels, leading to blockages in the arteries. High homocysteine levels in the blood can also cause cholesterol to change into oxidized low-density lipoprotein, which is more damaging to the arteries. In addition, high homocysteine levels can make blood clot more easily than it should, increasing the risk of blood vessel blockages.

Human papilloma virus (HPV)—the virus associated with the development of genital warts and cervical cancer.

Hydroxyproline—a product of the breakdown of connective tissue, such as collagen and bone. Measurement of the hydroxyproline level in the blood is a good indicator of bone loss.

Hypercalcemia—abnormally high level of calcium in the blood.

Hypermenorrhea—excessively prolonged or profuse menstrual bleeding; also called menorrhagia.

Hypersomnia—condition in which sleep periods are abnormally long, but waking hours are characterized by normal activity.

Hypertension—high blood pressure; generally a systolic pressure above 140 mmHg or a diastolic pressure above 90 mmHg.

Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD)—low libido in a woman; symptoms must bother the patient for this diagnosis.

Hypoglycemia—low blood sugar; a dangerous condition for diabetics as prolonged or extreme hypoglycemia can result in a coma due to an excess of insulin.

Hypothalamus—region in the brain, about the size of an almond, which regulates body temperature, blood pressure, heartbeat, metabolism of fats and carbohydrates and sugar levels in the blood. Releases the gonadotropin releasing hormone, which stimulates the pituitary to release FSH and LH.

Hysterectomy—the surgical removal of the uterus (partial hysterectomy) or the uterus and cervix (total hysterectomy).

Hysteroscope—an endoscope used in direct visual examination of the uterine cavity.

Hysteroscopy—the procedure of using a hysteroscope to examine the uterine cavity.

Indoles—a class of anticancer substances found in cruciferous (cabbage family) vegetables. They are antioxidants and potent stimulators of natural detoxifying enzymes in the body, and are believed to be responsible for the lowered risk of cancer associated with eating broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and kale.

Insomnia—an inability to sleep during the period when sleep is normally expected to occur.

Insulin—a hormone secreted by the pancreas; allows the body to use glucose, and involved in protein synthesis.

Intrauterine device (IUD)—plastic or metal device of various shapes inserted in the uterus to prevent pregnancy.

Kegel exercises—pelvic floor muscle exercises done to strengthen the muscles that support the urethra, bladder, uterus and rectum.

Kelly plication—one of the first surgical procedures to treat stress urinary incontinence.

Labiaplasty—surgically repairing or revising the labia.

Lactobacillus (plural lactobacilli)—bacteria that are normally present in the vagina and gastrointestinal tract; essential to maintain a healthy vaginal pH and to prevent infections.

Lambskin condom—the oldest type of condom on the market, made from the intestinal membrane of a lamb. Lambskin condoms do not protect against viruses that cause STIs, which pass through small pores in the material; but they do protect against pregnancy, as sperm cannot pass through the pores. Lambskin supposedly has a more “natural” feel than latex or polyurethane.

Laparoscope—an endoscope for examining the peritoneal cavity.

Laparoscopically-assisted vaginal hysterectomy (LAVH)—a vaginal hysterectomy in which the ovarian pedicle, broad ligament and uterosacral ligaments are surgically cut using laparoscopic instruments, and the uterus removed through the vagina.

Laparotomy—surgery that requires a large (compared to laparoscopy incisions) incision in the abdomen.

Levator ani—the pubococcygeal and ileococcygeal muscles that hold up the vagina, uterus, bladder and rectum.

Leiomyoma—fibroid muscle knot of the uterus, not cancerous.

Levonorgestrel—a synthetic progestogen; a component of many birth control pills.

Libido—conscious or unconscious sexual desire.

Liver function tests (LFTs)—tests that represent a broad range of normal functions performed by the liver. The diagnosis of liver disease depends upon a complete history, complete physical examination, evaluation of liver function tests and further invasive and noninvasive tests.

Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure (LEEP)—an operation on the cervix used to treat or diagnose cervical pre-cancer and cancer. It is done with a wire loop. The loops at Women’s Health Practice come in a range of sizes designed to suit each individual case so to minimize the amount of tissue that is needed to be removed.

Low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol—the major cholesterol carrier in the blood. If too much LDL cholesterol circulates in the blood, then together with other substances it can form plaque: a thick, hard deposit that clogs arteries. The condition of plaque building up on the walls of arteries is called atherosclerosis. A high level of LDL cholesterol reflects an increased risk of heart disease.

Low Transverse Cervical Cesarean Section (LTCCS)—the operative delivery of a baby where the cervix is the site of the incision in the uterus, and it is placed in a transverse, or side-to-side position.

Luteinizing hormone (LH)—a gonadotropin released by the pituitary gland. In females, ovulation of mature follicles on the ovary is induced by a large burst of LH secretion known as the preovulatory LH surge. Residual cells within ovulated follicles proliferate to form corpora lutea, which secrete the steroid hormones progesterone and estradiol.

Lymphedema—a swelling caused by a buildup of lymphatic fluid in the soft tissues of the limbs. This buildup often occurs after surgical removal of lymph nodes or after radiation therapy to lymph nodes, because of damage to the lymphatic system.

Macrobiotic diet—a diet rich in whole grains, beans, raw vegetables, seaweed and fruits. Meats, eggs, cheese, sweets, spices, sugars, coffee and alcohol are banned. The modern macrobiotic diet can be a very healthy nutritional regimen. Macrobiotics itself is based on an ancient Far-Eastern philosophy of holistic living.

Mammary duct ectasia—dilation of the mammary ducts by lipids and cellular debris in older women.

Mammary glands—the milk-producing glands of the breasts.

Marshali-Marchetti-Krantz (MMK) procedure—a surgical procedure used to treat stress urinary incontinence. The tissue around the urethra and near the bladder opening is stitched to the covering of the pubic bone.

Mastectomy—the surgical removal of the breast, usually to remove a tumor and prevent the spread of breast cancer.

Mastopexy—cosmetic surgery to lift sagging breasts to a more elevated position.

Maturation Index—an assessment of the degree of maturation of the vaginal epithelium; an objec­tive evaluation of hormone levels in the vaginal tissue. Performed on cells collected in a routine Pap smear.

Medroxyprogesterone—a form of progesterone, used to treat amenorrhea, dysmenorrhea (painful menstruation) and abnormal bleeding from the uterus caused by hormonal imbalance. This drug also may be taken with estrogen to decrease the risk of endometrial cancer. Medroxyprogesterone injection is used as a contraceptive. It prevents the release of eggs from the ovaries (ovulation) and thus prevents pregnancy.

Melatonin—a hormone secreted by the pineal gland that is related to the body’s natural sleep/ wake cycles.

Menorrhagia—excessively prolonged or profuse menstrual bleeding; also called hypermenorrhea.

Menstruation—cyclical endometrial shedding and discharge of a bloody fluid from the uterus during the menstrual cycle.

Metrorrhagia—bleeding between the normal menstrual periods.

Methylxanthines—a common, naturally occurring group of stimulants found in coffee, tea, cocoa and cola beverages.

Milk ducts—ducts in the breast that carry breast milk from the mammary glands to the nipple.

Mirena—a medicated intrauterine contraceptive device (IUD).

Miscarriage—loss of a pregnancy before viability.

Mittelschmerz—pain with ovulation.

Monoamine oxidase (MAO)—an enzyme that breaks down monoamine neurotransmitters (norepinephrine, serotonin and dopamine) in the brain, leading to depression.

Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)—a class of antidepressant drugs that inhibit the action of monoamine oxidase.

Monounsaturated fat—fats that, due to the presence of one double bond in the carbon chain, are not “saturated” with hydrogen. Monounsaturated fats are typically liquid at room temperature, but solidify when refrigerated, e.g. peanut oil, canola oil.

Multiparous—describes a woman who has given birth to more than one child.

Myocardial infarction—heart attack.

Myomectomy—surgical removal of a myoma, specifically a uterine myoma.

Myosure—a procedure performed through the hysteroscope to resect a polyp or fibroid.

Neoplasia—new growth of a tissue; could be benign or malignant.

Neurotransmitter—a chemical substance released from a nerve cell, which then stimulates or inhibits another nerve cell; a chemical messenger.

Nitroglycerine—a drug used to treat angina; converted to nitric oxide in the body, which widens the blood vessels.

Nitrosamines—cancer-causing chemicals used as preservatives, often found in bacon, cured meats and tobacco.

Nodal involvement—presence or absence of cancer cells in a neighboring lymph node; indicative of metastasizing cancer.

Nonoxynol-9—a spermicide often used in conjunction with barrier contraceptive methods, such as condoms, diaphragms and caps, to increase their effectiveness.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)—drugs that have pain-killing as well as inflammation-reducing properties, e.g., aspirin, ibuprofen.

NovaSure—an endometrial ablation performed with the NovaSure device.

Occluded—blocked.

Oophorectomy—removal of the ovary.

OPK—Ovulation Predictor Kits.

Osteoblast—a bone-forming cell.

Osteoclast—a cell that absorbs and removes bony tissue.

Osteomalacia—a disease characterized by gradual softening and bending of the bones, with a varying degree of associated pain. Often due to vitamin D deficiency; sometimes called adult or late rickets.

Osteopenia—decreased calcification or density of bone.

Osteoporosis—reduction in bone density, occurs most often in postmenopausal women and elderly men; results in thin bones, prone to fractures, especially of the spine, hip and wrist.

Ovaries—female reproductive glands containing the oocytes (ova) or germ cells.

Overactive bladder—condition in which the muscle that surrounds the bladder (detrusor muscles) contracts erratically, resulting in a constant “full bladder” feeling and the urgent need to urinate.

Overflow incontinence—a condition in which the patient never feels the urge to urinate, the bladder never empties, and small amounts of urine leak continuously. Overflow incontinence is prevalent in older men with an enlarged prostate and is rare in women.

Ovulation—release of an oocyte (egg) from the ovarian follicle.

Pap smear—a test that examines cells from the cervix; a screening test for cervical cancer.

Papilloma (see warts)—a benign epithelial tumor or wart.

Parasomnia—any dysfunction (abnormality) involving sleep.

Parathyroid hormone (PTH)—a hormone produced by the parathyroid gland; maintains blood calcium level by promoting intestinal absorption of calcium, and by releasing calcium from bone to extracellular fluid.

Pelvic diaphragm—a set of muscles including the levator ani, the coccygeus muscles and the fascia above and below them; responsible for maintaining the position of the pelvic organs.

Pelvic floor muscles—see pelvic diaphragm.

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)—acute or chronic inflammation of the female pelvic organs, often due to infection by Chlamydia or gonorrhea.

Pelvic relaxation—a slackening of the muscles of the pelvic diaphragm, often as a consequence of childbirth; responsible for prolapse of the female reproductive organs.

Pereyra procedure—a surgical procedure to treat stress urinary incontinence.

Perimenopause—a period between pre- and post-menopause.

Peritoneum—the membrane lining the abdominal cavity and covering most of the organs and tissues within the abdominal cavity.

Phytoestrogen—substances from a variety of plants that have estrogen-like properties.

Pituitary gland—a pea-sized gland at the base of the hypothalamus in the brain; sometimes called the master gland of the endocrine system, as it releases the hormones that control the other endocrine functions in the body.

Placebo—a medically inactive “dummy pill” often administered to a proportion of participants in a clinical research study, to distinguish between drug action and the suggestive effect of receiving a drug.

Polymenorrhea—occurrence of menstrual cycles at a greater than usual frequency.

Polyunsaturated fat—fats that contain multiple double bonds in the carbon chain. They are found in vegetable oils like soybean, corn, sunflower and safflower. They also occur in oily fish. Polyunsaturated fats remain liquid at room temperature and provide essential nutrition for healthy skin and the development of body cells.

Polyurethane—a synthetic material used to make certain types of condoms, often used by individuals allergic to latex rubber condoms.

Posterior repair—surgical repair of a rectocele.

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)—a syndrome of physiologic and emotional symptoms that occur in the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle i.e., in the 5-7 days prior to the start of menses.

Preterm Delivery (PTD)—delivery of a baby between 24-37 weeks of pregnancy, formally called premature delivery.

Primordial—first created or developed; earliest form in the growth or development of an individual; persisting from the beginning.

Progesterone—naturally occurring hormone produced by the corpus luteum, and by the placenta during pregnancy.

Prolactin—a pituitary hormone that stimulates milk secretion.

PROM—preterm rupture of membranes.

Prophylactic mastectomy—a radical surgical procedure that removes one or both breasts to prevent the development or spread of breast cancer.

Post Endometrial Ablation Syndrome—a condition of pain and/or bleeding after an endometrial ablation treatment.

Psychoactive drugs—drugs that can alter mood, anxiety, behavior and cognitive or mental processes.

Psychoneuroimmunology—a new science that attempts to understand the interactions between the immune system (the defense against disease), the nervous system, (controlling all body functions) and the (more difficult to define) psyche.

Pubococcygeal (PC) muscle—one of the muscles of the pelvic diaphragm. Can be toned using Kegel exercises, which may improve bladder control and enhance sexual pleasure.

Pulmonary embolism—a blood clot in the lung, usually caused when a fragment breaks off of a clot in a leg or pelvic vein; often fatal, and occurs more often after a period of confinement to bed or prolonged immobilization.

Raloxifene—a drug in the SERM class, brand name Evista.

Rectocele—prolapse or hernia of the rectum, usually into the vagina.

REM (rapid eye movement) sleep—a period of sleep characterized by quick scanning movements of the eyes; associated with dreaming.

Resectoscope—a hysteroscope with a built in wire loop (or other shape device) that uses high­ frequency electrical current to cut or coagulate tissue. It was developed for surgery of the bladder and the male prostate over fifty years ago to allow surgery inside an organ without having to make an incision.

Restless leg syndrome (nocturnal myoclonus)—a common condition in which there are uncomfortable sensations in the legs, including muscle twitching, pins-and-needles, pulling, crawling sensations or cramps and muscle aches. Usually occurs at night and makes it impossible for the patient to get a good night’s sleep.

Rheumatoid arthritis—inflammation in the lining of the joints and/or other internal organs. RA typically affects many different joints and is usually chronic. It is a systemic disease that affects the entire body and is one of the most common forms of arthritis. It causes pain, stiffness, warmth, redness and swelling. The involved joint can lose its shape and alignment, resulting in pain and loss of movement.

Sacroiliac joint—joint located in the lower back at either side of the spine; where the lowest bones of the spine (sacral vertebrae) meet the bones of the pelvis (iliac).

Saline infusion sonohysterography (SIS)—an ultrasound procedure that requires infusion of saline into the uterine cavity during transvaginal ultrasound. This process can help delineate more clearly the presence of intrauterine lesions. It can be particularly helpful in cases of abnormal uterine bleeding.

Saturated fat—the fat found primarily in food from animal sources, including whole milk dairy products, meat, lard and poultry. Small amounts of saturated fat are not harmful, but too much may increase blood cholesterol levels. Some vegetable foods are also high in saturated fat, such as coconut, cocoa butter, palm oil and tropical oil. Saturated fats contain no double bonds in the carbon chain, making them denser than monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats; thus they are usually solid at room temperature.

Scar tissue—see adhesions.

Scoliosis—abnormal lateral (sideways) curvature of the spine.

Selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs)—a class of drugs with affinity for estrogen receptors; drugs that mimic many of the actions of estrogen in the body, including positive effects on bone without the negative effects on breast and endometrial tissue.

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)—a class of drugs that selectively prevent the reuptake of serotonin and are used to treat depression.

Seracult—a sensitive slide test for detecting fecal occult blood, an indicator of colon cancer.

Serotonin—a vasoconstrictor and neurotransmitter.

Sexually transmitted infection (STI)—any contagious infection transmitted through sexual contact, e.g. syphilis, Chlamydia, gonorrhea, genital warts.

Sickle cell disease—an inherited genetic disease characterized by crescent- or sickle-shaped red blood cells; causes severe anemia, leg ulcers, atrophy of the spleen and episodes of severe pain.

Skene’s glands—glands in the vagina, located on either side of the urethral opening; thought to be equivalent to the male prostate gland.

Sleep apnea—cessation of breathing while sleeping; associated with frequent awakening and daytime sleepiness.

Spermicidal—destructive to sperm.

SPROM—Spontaneous Rupture of Membranes before active labor.

Squamocolumnar junction—the area of the cervix that gives rise to most cases of cervical cancer. The term refers to the border between the two different types of cells (squamous cells and columnar cells) that normally form the lining of the endocervical canal. With rare exceptions, cervical cancer originates from the squamous cells and is therefore referred to as squamous cervical cancer.

Stamey procedure—a bladder suspension procedure for stress urinary incontinence.

Staphylococcus aureus—bacteria that can live harmlessly on many skin surfaces, especially around the nose, mouth, genitals, and rectum. But when the skin is punctured or broken for any reason, staph bacteria can enter the wound and cause an infection. Staph bacteria can cause folliculitis, boils, impetigo, toxic shock syndrome, cellulitis and other types of infections.

Statins—a class of cholesterol-lowering drugs including Lipitor and Zocor. The major effect of the statins is to lower LDL—cholesterol levels by inhibiting the enzyme HMG-CoA reductase, which controls the rate of cholesterol production in the body. These drugs slow down the production of cholesterol and increase the liver's ability to remove the LDL-cholesterol already in the blood.

Steroid—a large family of chemical substances, including many hormones, body constituents and drugs, which share a common molecular structure.

Stress fracture—a fracture caused by repetitive, low-force localized stress, such as marching or running, rather than by a single, traumatic injury.

Stress urinary incontinence—leakage of urine as a result of coughing, straining or other movement.

Stretch marks—lines on the skin created when skin is overstretched and connective fibers break. They often occur during periods of rapid growth or weight gain, especially during puberty or pregnancy. The lines usually start out pink or red in color and fade to silvery or pale tone over time.

Subtotal Hysterectomy—surgical operation removing the body of the uterus but leaving the cervix; does not specify whether the ovaries are removed as well.

Systemic estrogen—estrogen taken in a form that allows it to access the entire body rather than a localized area, e.g. a pill rather than a topical vaginal cream.

Tamoxifen—one of the earliest drugs in the SERM class. Often used to treat and prevent breast cancer.

Teriparatide (Forteo)—an injectable form of parathyroid hormone; approved by the FDA for the treatment of osteoporosis in postmenopausal women who are at high risk for bone fracture. The drug is also approved to increase bone mass in men with primary or hypogonadal osteoporosis who are at high risk for fracture.

Testosterone—the most potent naturally occurring androgen, formed mostly in the testes, but also secreted by the ovaries and adrenal glands in women.

Thermachoice—an outpatient procedure to reduce excessive menstrual bleeding. Unlike hysterectomy, which takes out the entire uterus, the procedure just destroys the lining of the uterus by the use of heat.

Thrombophlebitis—inflammation of the veins due to clots.

TNM classification—a classification system for staging cancers. Evaluates tumor, node involvement and metastasis.

Tolterodine tartrate—a drug called Detrol LA, which can reduce the frequency and intensity of involuntary contractions of the bladder muscles, which cause the strong sudden urges associated with overactive bladder.

Total Laparoscopic Hysterectomy (TLH)—the entire removal of the uterus done through the minimally invasive technique with the laparoscope.

Toxic shock syndrome (TSS)—an infection caused by the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus, often associated with the use of super-absorbency tampons. Characterized by high fever, vomiting, diarrhea, rash, decreasing blood pressure and shock.

Transformation zone (T-zone)—the area of the cervix where columnar epithelium can change into squamous epithelium in a process called metaplasia. Abnormal or pre-malignant cells are more likely to form in this zone.

Trichomonas—a parasitic protozoan frequently found in the vagina and urethra of women, where it causes trichomonal vaginitis, and in the urethra and prostate gland of men.

Tricyclic antidepressants—an older class of drugs, used to treat depression.

Triglyceride—the chemical form in which most fat exists in the body, as well as in food. Triglycerides in the blood are derived from fats eaten in food or made in the body from other energy sources like carbohydrates. Calories ingested in a meal and not used immediately by tissues are converted to triglycerides and transported to fat cells to be stored. Hormones regulate the release of triglycerides from fat tissue to meet the body's need for energy between meals.

T-score—the standard unit for reporting the results of a bone mineral density test. The T­score compares the patient’s bone mass with that of a population of normal young adult women. A T-score of -1.0 means bone density is 10 percent below normal. A T-score of -2.0 means bone density is 20 percent below normal, indicative of osteoporosis.

Tubal ligation—a surgical procedure of sterilization restricting the ability of a woman to become pregnant. The procedure involves the cutting or blocking of the fallopian tubes so that the egg does not reach the uterus.

Tumor suppressor gene—a gene whose function is to suppress cellular proliferation. Loss of a tumor suppressor gene through a mutation or acquired DNA damage leads to increased susceptibility to cancer.

Type I diabetes mellitus—a condition in which the body does not produce insulin. Type I diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults and was previously known as juvenile diabetes. Insulin is necessary for the body to be able to use sugar. Sugar is the basic fuel for the cells in the body, and insulin takes the sugar from the blood into the cells.

Type II diabetes mellitus—the most common form of diabetes. In Type II diabetes, either the body does not produce enough insulin or the cells ignore insulin (insulin resistance). When glucose (sugar) builds up in the blood instead of going into cells, it causes two problems: initially, the cells may be starved for energy, but over time, high blood glucose levels may damage the eyes, kidneys, nerves or heart.

Ultrasound—a visualization of an organ with the use of reflective sound waves.

Unopposed estrogen stimulation—estrogen taken without progesterone. The most serious consequence of unopposed estrogen stimulation is the increased risk of endometrial cancer.

Upper genital tract—the cervix, uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries; the cervix is considered the boundary between the lower and upper genital tracts.

Urethra—the canal leading from the bladder to discharge the urine externally.

Urge incontinence—leakage of urine in the presence of a strong desire to void.

Urinary tract infection (UTI)—microbial infection, usually bacterial, of any part of the urinary tract.

Uterine biopsy—a procedure to remove a sample of the endometrial lining of the uterus. This may be performed with or without anesthesia. Risks include bleeding after the procedure. This test is usually performed in the evaluation of abnormal menses, heavy menstruation, or post-menopausal bleeding. Endometrial biopsy can reveal uterine cancer, uterine fibroids, uterine polyps, and adenomyosis.

Uterine prolapse—a descent or herniation of the uterus into or beyond the vagina. In first-degree prolapse, the cervix remains within the vagina; in second-degree prolapse, the cervix is at or near the vaginal opening; and in third-degree prolapse, most or all of the uterus lies outside the vaginal opening.

Uterus—the hollow muscular organ in which a fertilized egg develops into a fetus.

VBAC—Vaginal Birth After Cesarean Section.

Vacuum Delivery—a cup with a handle is applied to the baby's head to help guide it from the birth canal.

Vaginal atrophy—An inflammation of the lubricated inner lining of the vagina that is caused by thinning and decreased vaginal lubrication. The most common cause is the decrease in estrogen after menopause, although it can be caused by other conditions. Symptoms include vaginal soreness and/or itching, painful intercourse and sometimes bleeding after intercourse. Treatment typically consists of topical estrogen cream and/or oral estrogen replacement.

Vaginal fornix—refers to the anterior (front) and posterior (back) recesses into which the upper vagina is divided. These vault-like recesses are formed by protrusion of the cervix into the vagina. The fornix vaginae is also known as the fornix uteri (the uterine fornix).
Vaginal Hysterectomy—removing the whole uterus with an operation performed through the vagina.

Vaginal stenosis—narrowing of the vagina, often occurring as a result of radiation treatment for cervical cancer. Vaginal dilators can be used to gradually widen the vagina.

Vaginismus—painful spasm of the vagina preventing intercourse.

Vaginitis—inflammation of the vagina, often due to infection.

Vaginosis—discharge, odor, overgrowth of common vaginal bacteria.

Vascular headache—a headache is caused by a combination of vasodilatation (enlargement of blood vessels) and the release of chemicals from nerve fibers that coil around the blood vessels. A migraine headache is a form of vascular headache.

Vasomotor instability—usually referring to hot flashes or night sweats in a menopausal woman.

Venous thromboembolic event (VTE)—a general term referring to serious conditions caused by blood clots in the veins; includes deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism.

Vertebral fracture—a fracture in one of the bones of the spinal column. They are often compression fractures, occurring when vertebrae have thinned due to osteoporosis, causing pain and loss of height and mobility.

Vulva—the external genitalia of the female, including the labia minora, labia majora, the clitoris and the mons pubis.

Vulvodynia—A condition of external vulvar pain and/or burning.

Warfarin (Coumadin)—an oral anticoagulant that inhibits the synthesis of clotting factors, thus preventing blood clot formation. Blood clots can occur in the veins of the lower extremities, usually after periods of immobility. These clots can break off and become lodged in the blood vessels of the lung (pulmonary embolism), causing shortness of breath, chest pain, and life threatening shock.

Water pill—a diuretic pill sometimes used to treat congestive heart failure (CHF), high blood pressure (hypertension) or edema (water retention). Diuretics are also prescribed for certain kinds of kidney or liver diseases.

Withdrawal bleeding—bleeding induced by the withdrawal of synthetic hormones during one week of a woman’s pill cycle. May also occur in women using cyclical hormone therapy.

Z-score—another way of expressing the results of a bone mineral density test. The Z-score compares the patient’s score to that of “normal” women her age. Just like the T-score, a negative number indicates a lower than normal bone density and a positive number indicates a higher than normal bone density.

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