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Glossary of Terms: taken from ACOG.org

Adhesion: Scarring that binds together the surfaces of tissues.

Anemia: Low levels of iron in the blood.

Birth Control: Methods to prevent pregnancy.

Bladder: A muscular organ in which urine is stored.

Catheter: A tube used to drain fluid or urine from the body.

Cystitis: An infection of the bladder.

Cervix: The lower, narrow end of the uterus, which protrudes into the vagina.

Cesarean Delivery: Delivery of a baby through incisions made in the mother's abdomen and uterus.

Cystocele: Bulging of the bladder into the vagina.

Diuretic: A drug given to increase the production of urine.

Dysuria: Pain during urination.

Endometrioma: An ovarian cyst formed from endometrial tissue.

Endometrial Hyperplasia: A condition in which the lining of the uterus grows too thick; if left untreated for a long time, it may lead to cancer.

Enterocele: Bulging of the small intestine into the upper part of the vagina.

Fallopian Tubes: Tubes through which an egg travels from the ovary to the uterus.

Fascia: Tissue that supports the organs and muscles of the body.

Fistula: An abnormal opening or passage between two internal organs.

General Anesthesia: The use of drugs that produce a sleep-like state to prevent pain during surgery.

Hormones: Substances produced by the body to control the functions of various organs.

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV): A virus that attacks certain cells of the body's immune system and causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).

Hysterectomy: Removal of the uterus.

Hysterosalpingography: A special X-ray procedure in which a small amount of fluid is placed into the uterus and fallopian tubes to detect abnormal changes in their size and shape or to determine whether the tubes are blocked.

Hysteroscopic Sterilization: A sterilization procedure in which a small device is placed into each fallopian tube that causes scar tissue to form. The scar tissue eventually blocks the tubes and prevents sperm from entering the fallopian tubes to fertilize an egg.

Hysteroscopy: A procedure in which a slender, light-transmitting device, the hysteroscope, is inserted into the uterus through the cervix to view the inside of the uterus or perform surgery.

Incontinence: Inability to control bodily functions such as urination.

Infertility: A condition in which a couple has been unable to get pregnant after 12 months without the use of any form of birth control.

Laparoscopy: A surgical procedure in which a slender, light-transmitting instrument, the laparoscope, is used to view the pelvic organs or perform surgery.

Laparotomy: A surgical procedure in which an incision is made in the abdomen.

Laxative: A product that is used to empty the bowels

Local Anesthesia: The use of drugs that prevent pain in a part of the body.

Menopause: The process in a woman's life when ovaries stop functioning and menstruation stops.

Menstruation: The monthly discharge of blood and tissue from the uterus that occurs in the absence of pregnancy.

Minilaparotomy: A small abdominal incision used for a sterilization procedure in which the fallopian tubes are closed off.

Neural Tube Defect: A birth defect that results from improper development of the brain, spinal cord, or their coverings.

Nocturia: The need to urinate frequently during the night.

Ovaries: Two glands, located on either side of the uterus, that contain the eggs released at ovulation and that produce hormones.

Ovulation: The release of an egg from one of the ovaries.

Pap Test: A test in which cells are taken from the cervix and vagina and examined under a microscope.

Pelvic Exam: An examination of a woman's sexual organs (both inside and outside) using hands and sometimes a speculum (a metal or plastic instrument used to see inside the vagina).

Pelvic Floor: A muscular membrane at the base of the abdomen attached to the pelvis.

Pessary: A device inserted into the vagina to support sagging organs.

Polyps: Benign (noncancerous) growths that develop from tissue lining an organ, such as that lining the inside of the uterus.

Peritoneum: The membrane that lines the abdominal cavity and surrounds the internal organs.

Progestin: A synthetic form of progesterone that is similar to the hormone produced naturally by the body.

Rectocele: Bulging of the rectum into the vaginal wall.

Rectum: The last part of the digestive tract.

Resectoscope: A slender telescope with an electrical wire loop or rollerball tip used to remove or destroy tissue inside the uterus.


Semen: A fluid made in the male reproductive organs that consists of sperm and fluid from the prostate gland and the seminal vesicles.

Scrotum: The external genital sac in the male that contains the testes.

Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs): Diseases that are spread by sexual contact, including chlamydia, gonorrhea, human papillomavirus infection, herpes, syphilis, and infection with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV, the cause of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome [AIDS]).

Sonohysterography: A procedure in which fluid is put into the uterus and ultrasonography is used to view the inside of the uterus.

Sterilization: An operation that prevents a woman from becoming pregnant or a man from fathering a child.

Tubal Sterilization: A method of female sterilization in which the fallopian tubes are closed by banding, clipping, sealing with electric current, or blocking with a device.

Ultrasound: A test in which sound waves are used to examine internal structures.

Ultrasonography: A test in which sound waves are used to examine internal structures. During pregnancy, it can be used to examine the fetus.

Urethra: A tube-like structure through which urine flows from the bladder to the outside of the body.

Ureters: A pair of tubes, each leading from one of the kidneys to the bladder.

Urethrocele: Protrusion of the urethra into the vaginal wall.

Uterine Prolapse: Sagging of the uterus into the vagina.

Uterus: A muscular organ located in the female pelvis that contains and nourishes the developing fetus during pregnancy.

Vagina: A tube-like structure surrounded by muscles leading from the uterus to the outside of the body.

Vaginal Vault Prolapse: Bulging of the top of the vagina into the lower vagina or outside the opening of the vagina.

Vas Deferens: One of two small tubes that carries sperm from the male testes to the prostate gland.

Vasectomy: A method of male sterilization in which a portion of the vas deferens is removed.

Vulva: The external female genital area.









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