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Female Reproductive System Glossary

Terms used to explain Female Reproductive System can sometimes be confusing. To help you fully understand the articles and features related to this very important health topic, we have compiled a glossary of terms that can help.

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Pronunciation: \ˈab-ˌses\

Function: noun
pl ab*scess*es
Pronunciation: \ˈab-səs-ˌēz, -ˌses-, -əz\

: a localized collection of pus surrounded by inflamed tissue


Pronunciation: \ˈab-stə-nən(t)s\

Function: noun

1: voluntary forbearance esp. from sexual intercourse or from eating some foods
2: habitual abstaining from intoxicating beverages


Pronunciation: \-ˌkärs-ən-ˈō-mə\

Function: noun
pl -mas
also -ma*ta
Pronunciation: \-mət-ə\
: a malignant tumor originating in glandular epithelium


Pronunciation: \ˌad-ən-ˈō-mə\

Function: noun
pl -mas
also -ma*ta
Pronunciation: \-mət-ə\

: a benign tumor of a glandular structure or of glandular origin


Pronunciation: \ad-ˈnek-sə\

Function: noun plural
: conjoined, subordinate, or associated anatomic parts <the uterine adnexa include the ovaries and fallopian tubes>


Pronunciation: \ˈaf-tər-ˌbərth\

Function: noun
: the placenta and fetal membranes that are expelled after delivery —called also secundines


Function: noun
: abnormal absence or suppression of menstruation see primary amenorrhea secondary amenorrhea


Pronunciation: \ˈan-drə-jən\

Function: noun
: a male sex hormone (as testosterone)


Pronunciation: \-fē\

Function: noun
pl -phies
: the radiographic visualization of the blood vessels after injection of a radiopaque substance

Artificial Insemination

artificial insemination
Function: noun
: introduction of semen into part of the female reproductive tract (as the cervical opening, uterus, or fallopian tube) by other than natural means

Bacterial Vaginosis

bacterial vag*i*no*sis
Pronunciation: \-ˌvaj-ə-ˈnō-səs\

Function: noun
: vaginitis that is marked by a grayish vaginal discharge usu. of foul odor and that is associated with the presence of a bacterium esp. of the genus Gardnerella (G. vaginalis syn. Haemophilus vaginalis) abbr. BV—called also nonspecific vaginitis


Pronunciation: \bi-ˈnīn\

Function: adjective

1: of a mild type or character that does not threaten health or life <benign malaria> <a benign tumor> compare malignant 1
2: having a good prognosis : responding favorably to treatment <a benign psychosis>


Pronunciation: \ˈbī-ˌäp-sē\

Function: noun
pl -sies
: the removal and examination of tissue, cells, or fluids from the living body

Birth Control

birth control
Function: noun

1: control of the number of children born esp. by preventing or lessening the frequency of conception : see: contraception
2: contraceptive devices or preparations


Pronunciation: \ˈblas-tə-ˌsist\

Function: noun
: the modified blastula of a placental mammal

Braxton-Hicks Contractions

Brax*ton–Hicks contractions
Pronunciation: \ˌbrak-stən-ˈhiks-\

Function: noun plural
: relatively painless nonrhythmic contractions of the uterus that occur during pregnancy with increasing frequency over time but are not associated with labor


Pronunciation: \ˈkan(t)-sər\

Function: noun

1: a malignant tumor of potentially unlimited growth that expands locally by invasion and systemically by metastasis
2: an abnormal state marked by a cancer


Pronunciation: \kär-ˈsin-ə-jən, ˈkärs-ən-ə-ˌjen\

Function: noun
: a substance or agent causing cancer


Pronunciation: \ˈsər-vi-kəl, Brit usu sər-ˈvī-kəl\

Function: adjective
: of or relating to a neck or cervix <cervical cancer>

Cesarean Section

cesarean section
Function: noun
: surgical incision of the walls of the abdomen and uterus for delivery of offspring


Pronunciation: \-ˈther-ə-pē\

Function: noun
pl -pies
: the use of chemical agents in the treatment or control of disease or mental disorder


Pronunciation: \sə-ˈrō-səs\

Function: noun
pl -rho*ses
Pronunciation: \-ˌsēz\

: widespread disruption of normal liver structure by fibrosis and the formation of regenerative nodules that is caused by any of various chronic progressive conditions affecting the liver (as long-term alcohol abuse or hepatitis) see biliary cirrhosis


Pronunciation: \ˈklit-ə-rəs, kli-ˈtor-əs\

Function: noun
pl cli*to*ri*des
Pronunciation: \kli-ˈtor-ə-ˌdēz\
: a small erectile organ at the anterior or ventral part of the vulva homologous to the penis


Pronunciation: \ˌkō-lə-ˈnäs-kə-pē, ˌkäl-ə-\

Function: noun
pl -pies
: endoscopic examination of the colon <transabdominal colonoscopy with a sigmoidoscope via colotomy>


Pronunciation: \ˌkän-trə-ˈsep-shən\

Function: noun
: deliberate prevention of conception or impregnation


Pronunciation: \dī-ˈlā-shən\

Function: noun

1: the state of being dilated : see: dilatation
2: the action of stretching or enlarging an organ or part of the body <cervical dilation> <dilation of the pupil with atropine>

Dilation And Curettage

dilation and curettage
Function: noun
: a medical procedure in which the uterine cervix is dilated and a curette is inserted into the uterus to scrape away the endometrium (as for the diagnosis or treatment of abnormal bleeding or for surgical abortion during the early part of the second trimester of pregnancy) —called also D&C


Pronunciation: \dis-ˈem-ə-ˌnāt-əd\

Function: adjective
: widely dispersed in a tissue, organ, or the entire body <disseminated cutaneous leishmaniasis> <disseminated gonococcal disease>

Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry

du*al energy X–ray absorptiometry
Pronunciation: \ˈd(y)ü-əl-\

Function: noun
: absorptiometry in which the density or mass of a material (as bone or fat) is measured by comparing the amounts of absorption by the material of x-radiation of two different energies generated by an X-ray tube and which is used esp. for determining bone mineral content abbr. DEXA,DXA


Function: noun
: painful menstruation see spasmodic dysmenorrhea


Pronunciation: \dis-ˈplā-zh(ē-)ə\

Function: noun

1: variation in somatotype (as in degree of ectomorphy, endomorphy, or mesomorphy) from one part of a human body to another
2: abnormal growth or development (as of organs or cells); broadly: abnormal anatomic structure due to such growth

Ectopic Pregnancy

ectopic pregnancy
Function: noun

: gestation elsewhere than in the uterus (as in a fallopian tube or in the peritoneal cavity) —called also ectopic gestation, extrauterine gestation, extrauterine pregnancy


Pronunciation: \-lət\

Function: noun
: the semen released by one ejaculation


Pronunciation: \ˌen-dō-ˌmē-trē-ˈō-səs\
Function: noun
1: the presence and growth of functioning endometrial tissue in places other than the uterus that often results in severe pain and infertility see adenomyosis


Pronunciation: \-ˈmē-trē-əm\

Function: noun
pl -tria
Pronunciation: \-trē-ə\
: the mucous membrane lining the uterus that is composed of three layers see stratum basale stratum compactum stratum spongiosum


Pronunciation: \ˌep-i-ˈd(y)ur-əl\

Function: adjective
: situated upon or administered or placed outside the dura mater <epidural[1] anesthesia> <an epidural[1] abscess>


Pronunciation: \ˈes-trə-jən\

Function: noun
: any of various natural steroids (as estradiol) that are formed from androgen precursors, that are secreted chiefly by the ovaries, placenta, adipose tissue, and testes, and that stimulate the development of female secondary sex characteristics and promote the growth and maintenance of the female reproductive system; also: any of various synthetic or semisynthetic steroids (as ethinyl estradiol) that mimic the physiological effect of natural estrogens

Fallopian Tube

fallopian tube
Function: noun
often cap F: either of the pair of tubes that carry the eggs from the ovary to the uterus —called also uterine tube


Pronunciation: \(ˌ)fər-ˈtil-ət-ē\

Function: noun
pl -ties

1: the quality or state of being fertile
2: the birthrate of a population compare mortality 2b


Pronunciation: \ˈfäl-i-kəl\

Function: noun

1: a small anatomical cavity or deep narrow-mouthed depression; esp: a small simple or slightly branched gland : see: crypt
2: a small lymph node
3: a vesicle in the mammalian ovary that contains a developing egg surrounded by a covering of cells : see: ovarian follicle; esp: see: graafian follicle


Pronunciation: \ˈhor-ˌmōn\

Function: noun

1 a: a product of living cells that circulates in body fluids (as blood) or sap and produces a specific often stimulatory effect on the activity of cells usu. remote from its point of origin —called also internal secretion, see plant hormone
b: a synthetic substance that acts like a hormone
2: see: sex hormone

Hot Flash

hot flash
Function: noun
: a sudden brief flushing and sensation of heat caused by dilation of skin capillaries usu. associated with menopausal endocrine imbalance —called also hot flush


Pronunciation: \ˈhī-mən\

Function: noun
: a fold of mucous membrane partly or wholly closing the orifice of the vagina


Pronunciation: \ˌhis-tə-ˈrek-tə-mē\

Function: noun
pl -mies
: surgical removal of the uterus see ovariohysterectomy panhysterectomy radical hysterectomy supracervical hysterectomy

In Vitro Fertilization

in vitro fertilization
Function: noun
: fertilization of an egg in a laboratory dish or test tube; specif: mixture usu. in a laboratory dish of sperm with eggs which have been surgically removed from an ovary that is followed by implantation of one or more of the resulting fertilized eggs into a female's uterus abbr. IVF


Pronunciation: \(ˈ)in-ˈfərt-əl\

Function: adjective
: not fertile; esp: incapable of or unsuccessful in achieving pregnancy over a considerable period of time (as a year) in spite of determined attempts by heterosexual intercourse without contraception <infertile couples> <an infertile male with a low sperm count> <an infertile female with blocked fallopian tubes> compare sterile 1


Pronunciation: \-ˈyüt-ə-rən, -ˌrīn\

Function: adjective
: of, situated in, used in, or occurring within the uterus <the intrauterine environment> <intrauterine instillation of saline> ; also: involving or occurring during the part of development that takes place in the uterus <intrauterine infection> <intrauterine mortality>


Pronunciation: \ir-ˌād-ē-ˈā-shən\

Function: noun

1 a: the radiation of a physiologically active agent from a point of origin within the body; esp: the spread of a nervous impulse beyond the usual conduction path
b: apparent enlargement of a light or bright object or surface when displayed against a dark background
2 a: exposure to radiation (as ultraviolet light, X-rays, or alpha particles)
b: application of radiation (as X-rays or gamma rays) esp. for therapeutic purposes
3: see: irradiance


Pronunciation: \lak-ˈtā-shən\

Function: noun

1: the secretion and yielding of milk by the mammary gland
2: one complete period of lactation extending from about the time of parturition to weaning


Pronunciation: \ˌlap-ə-ˈräs-kə-pē\

Function: noun
pl -pies

1: visual examination of the inside of the abdomen by means of a laparoscope —called also peritoneoscopy
2: an operation (as tubal ligation or gallbladder removal) involving laparoscopy


Pronunciation: \ˌlap-ə-ˈrät-ə-mē\

Function: noun
pl -mies
: surgical section of the abdominal wall


Pronunciation: \mə-ˈlig-nənt\

Function: adjective

1: tending to produce death or deterioration <malignant malaria> ; esp: tending to infiltrate, metastasize, and terminate fatally <malignant tumors> compare benign 1
2: of unfavorable prognosis : not responding favorably to treatment <psychotic reactions with a malignant trend>


Pronunciation: \ˈmen-ə-ˌpoz, ˈmēn-\

Function: noun

1 a (1): the natural cessation of menstruation occurring usu. between the ages of 45 and 55 with a mean in Western cultures of approximately 51
(2): the physiological period in the life of a woman in which such cessation and the accompanying regression of ovarian function occurs —called also climacteric, compare perimenopause
b: cessation of menstruation from other than natural causes (as from surgical removal of the ovaries)
2: see: andropause


Pronunciation: \ˈmen(t)-strə(-wə)l\

Function: adjective
: of or relating to menstruation


Pronunciation: \mə-ˈtas-tə-səs\

Function: noun
pl -ta*ses
Pronunciation: \-ˌsēz\

1 a: change of position, state, or form
b: the spread of a disease-producing agency (as cancer cells or bacteria) from the initial or primary site of disease to another part of the body <metastases of breast cancer to bone Medical Physics> ; also: the process by which such spreading occurs
2: a secondary malignant tumor resulting from metastasis


Pronunciation: \ˈmin-ē-ˌpil\

Function: noun
: a birth control pill that is intended to minimize side effects, contains a very low dose of a progestogen and esp. norethindrone but no estrogen, and is taken daily


Pronunciation: \mis-ˈkar-ij\

Function: noun
: spontaneous expulsion of a human fetus before it is viable and esp. between the 12th and 28th weeks of gestation compare abortion 1a

Morning Sickness

morning sickness
Function: noun
: nausea and vomiting that occurs typically in the morning esp. during the earlier months of pregnancy


Pronunciation: \ˈmyü-kəs\

Function: noun
: a viscid slippery secretion that is usu. rich in mucins and is produced by mucous membranes which it moistens and protects


Pronunciation: \ˌō-ə-fə-ˈrek-tə-mē\

Function: noun
pl -mies
: the surgical removal of an ovary —called also ovariectomy

Oral Contraceptive

oral contraceptive
Function: noun
: see: birth control pill



Function: noun
pl -ro*ses

: a condition that affects esp. older women and is characterized by decrease in bone mass with decreased density and enlargement of bone spaces producing porosity and brittleness


Pronunciation: \ˌäv-yə-ˈlā-shən also ˌōv-\

Function: noun
: the discharge of a mature ovum from the ovary

Pap Smear

Pap smear
Pronunciation: \ˈpap-\

Function: noun
: a method or a test based on it for the early detection of cancer esp. of the uterine cervix that involves staining exfoliated cells by a special technique which differentiates diseased tissue —called also Papanicolaou smear, Papanicolaou test, Pap test


Pronunciation: \ˈpel-vəs\

Function: noun
pl pel*vis*es
Pronunciation: \-və-səz\
or pel*ves
Pronunciation: \-ˌvēz\

1: a basin-shaped structure in the skeleton of many vertebrates that is formed by the pelvic girdle together with the sacrum and often various coccygeal and caudal vertebrae and that in humans is composed of the two hip bones bounding it on each side and in front while the sacrum and coccyx complete it behind
2: see: pelvic cavity
3: see: renal pelvis


Pronunciation: \-ˈmen-ə-ˌpoz, -ˈmēn-\

Function: noun
: the period around the onset of menopause that is often marked by various physical signs (as hot flashes and menstrual irregularity)


Pronunciation: \plə-ˈsent-ə\

Function: noun
pl -centas
or -cen*tae
Pronunciation: \-ˈsent-(ˌ)ē\

: the vascular organ in mammals except monotremes and marsupials that unites the fetus to the maternal uterus and mediates its metabolic exchanges through a more or less intimate association of uterine mucosal with chorionic and usu. allantoic tissues permitting exchange of material by diffusion between the maternal and fetal vascular systems but without direct contact between maternal and fetal blood and typically involving the interlocking of fingerlike vascular chorionic villi with corresponding modified areas of the uterine mucosa see abruptio placentae


Pronunciation: \-ˈtərm\

Function: adjective
: of, relating to, being, or born by premature birth <preterm infants> <a preterm delivery> <preterm labor>


Pronunciation: \prō-ˈjes-tə-ˌrōn\

Function: noun
: a female steroid sex hormone C21H30O2 that is secreted by the corpus luteum to prepare the endometrium for implantation and later by the placenta during pregnancy to prevent rejection of the developing embryo or fetus; also: a synthetic steroid resembling progesterone in action


Function: noun
: a naturally occurring or synthetic progestational steroid

Radiation Therapy

radiation therapy
Function: noun
: see: radiotherapy

Rhythm Method

rhythm method
Function: noun
: a method of birth control involving continence during the period of the sexual cycle in which ovulation is most likely to occur

Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulator

selective estrogen receptor modulator
Function: noun
: any of a class of drugs (as raloxifene or tamoxifen) that bind with estrogen receptors and act as estrogen agonists in some tissues and estrogen antagonists in other tissues abbr. SERM


Pronunciation: \sə-ˈrō-zə\

Function: noun
pl -sas
also -sae
Pronunciation: \-zē\
: a usu. enclosing serous membrane <the peritoneal serosa>


Pronunciation: \ˈspərm\

Function: noun
pl sperm
or sperms

1: the male impregnating fluid : see: semen
2: a male gamete; esp: see: spermatozoon

Spinal Anesthesia

spinal anesthesia
Function: noun
: anesthesia produced by injection of an anesthetic into the subarachnoid space of the spine


Pronunciation: \ˈəl-trə-ˌsaund\

Function: noun

1: vibrations of the same physical nature as sound but with frequencies above the range of human hearing compare infrasound
2: the diagnostic or therapeutic use of ultrasound and esp. a noninvasive technique involving the formation of a two-dimensional image used for the examination and measurement of internal body structures and the detection of bodily abnormalities —called also echography, sonography, ultrasonography
3: a diagnostic examination using ultrasound

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