*The majority of the WHWH glossary is curated from How To Stay Out Of The Gynecologist's Office

A

A

Abdomen (belly)

The part of the body between the lower rigs and the pelvis. The abdominal cavity contains the stomach and lower part of the esophagus, small and large intestines (except sigmoid colon and rectum), liver, gallbladder, spleen, pancreas, kidney and ureter.

Abdominal hysterectomy

Removal of the uterus and/or egg tubes or ovaries through an incision in the abdomen.

Abortifacient

A substance or object which causes or starts an abortion. Many herbs are used as abortifacients.

Abortion

Termination of a pregnancy by any means other than birth.

Abrasion (Scrape)

A rubbed off or worn away area of skin or mucous membrane.

Abscess

A localized collection of pus from the disintegration of tissue, usually accompanied by pain.

Abstinence

In referring to heterosexual women, abstinence means to refrain from having the penis in the vagina. Abstinence does not mean refraining from masturbation or other forms of sexual activity.

Acetone

A type of chemical by-product of fat metabolism usually found in the blood and urine in small quantities. People who have diabetes, or are on certain diets, or who have fasted for a long time, produce more acetones. See ketones.

Acid

A substance which is sour to the taste, can neutralize alkaline (base) substances, and has a pH from 1 to 6. Vinegar is an acidic food. See pH and alkaline.

Acidophilus

See Lactobacillus acidophilus.

ACTH

See adrenocotricotropic hormone.

Acupuncture

A traditional Chinese method of blocking nerve paths by inserting needles. It is used to minimize sensation, alleviate pain, as a surgical anesthetic, or as a means of healing.

Acute

An illness which begins suddenly, is severe and has relatively short duration.

Adenocarcinoma

A form of cancer originating in the epithelium of glandular tissue. See epithelial cells.

Adenomysosis

A type of endometriosis where bits of uterine lining are embedded in the uterine wall.

Adenosis, vaginal

The unusual presence of glandular tissue on the vaginal walls. These cells are the type normally found in the cervical canal.

ADH

See anti-diuretic hormone.

Adhesion

Fibrous or scar tissue growing on or between organs, attaching one organ to another.

Adnexal

A term used to refer to the parts next to or attached to an organ. Adnexae usually refers to the structures next to the uterus such as egg tubes and ovaries.

Adrenal gland

A triangular shaped gland attached to the top of each kidney. It secretes various substances that influence every body system. Among the hormones secreted are the steroid hormones, androgens, estrogens, and progestogens.

Adrenarche

Changes that occur at puberty resulting from an increased secretion of adrenal hormones. These include growth of pubic hair, hair in the armpits and growth of the sex organs. These changes usually begin around the age of eight or nine.

Adrenocotricotropic hormone (ACTH)

A hormone secreted by the outer portion of the pituitary gland in the base of the brain which stimulates the outer portion of the adrenal gland to secrete an entire spectrum of hormones.

Aerobic

A term applied to organisms such as germs and bacteria which require a relatively high quantity of oxygen to reproduce.

Agar Plate

A small, flat, covered container (petri dish) that contains a semisolid, gelatin-like food for bacterial growth. This is generally used by laboratory technicians to identify organisms such as those that cause gonorrhea.

Aldosterone

A hormone secreted by the outer portion of the adrenal glands that is involved in the metabolism of sodium and potassium (electrolytes).

Alkaline (Alkali)

The opposite of acid, such as baking soda. See pH.

Allergy

A bodily reaction to a substance such as a drug, pollen or food, often characterized by a rash, sneezing, or congestion.

Allopathic

A crisis or disease oriented philosophy of modern medicine practiced by most western physicians. They treat illnesses instead of focusing on preventive health care or analyzing people’s living conditions. They treat symptoms rather than the causes and depend on prescription drugs and surgery instead of investigating other alternatives.

Amenorrhea

The absence of menstrual periods. Also used to describe irregular menstruation.

Amino Acids
Amniocentesis

Inserting a needle through the abdomen into the uterus to withdraw a small amount of amniotic fluid from a pregnant woman in order to test for birth defects or specific genetic characteristics such as sex. In a saline or prostaglandin abortion this procedure is used to remove amniotic fluid before injecting the abortifacient into the uterus.

Amniotic fluid

The transparent liquid contained within the bag of waters (amniotic sac) that surrounds and protects a fetus in the uterus by maintaining an even temperature and providing cushion from injury.

Amniotic Sac

The bag of waters surrounding and protecting the fetus in the uterus, maintaining an even temperature and cushion from injury.

Antidiuretic hormone (ADH, Vasopressin)

A hormone secreted by the back of the pituitary. An ADH-like drug has an anti-diuretic effect; that is, it causes the body tissues to retain water.

Asenomyosis

A type of endometriosis where bits of uterine lining are embedded in the uterine wall.

B

Bacterial infection

C

Cervical OS

Clitoris
The small sensitive erectile tissue of your genitals, at the anterior end of the vulva.
Clitoral Crura

The clitoral crura are two erectile tissue structures, which together form a V-shape, attached to the pubic arch. During sexual arousal, the crura become engorged with blood, as does all of the erectile tissue of the clitoris.

D

E

E

Epithelial cells

Fat (squamous), cube-shaped (cuboidal), or cylindrical (columnar) cells, forming the lining or surface layers of the skin and of the mucous and other membranes of the rest of the body.

Essential amino acids

Organic substances which are the building blocks of proteins and are necessary for growth and metabolism of food. They are called essential because they must be obtained from foods as they cannot be manufactured by the body. Several important protein foods, such as milk, cheese, eggs and meat, contain all the amino acids considered essential.

Vegans can get essential amino acids through a plant based diet. See more information here.

F

Female ejaculation

Female ejaculation is an expulsion of fluid from from the glands on the side of the urethra during or before an orgasm. The glands are called Skene’s peri-urethral glands, also referred to as the female prostate.

G

H

I

J

K

L

L

Labia Majora

The larger external folds of the vulva, surrounding the opening of your vagina.

Labia Minora

The smaller inner folds of the vulva, eternal to and surrounding your vagina.

Lactobacillus acidophilus

Rod shaped bacteria found in milk products, the intestinal tract, feces and saliva. When lactobacillus acidophilus is introduced into the vagina it can decrease yeast overgrowth.

M

Masturbation

Stimulation of your genitals, often focusing on the clitoris, manually for your sexual pleasure.

Menarche

The first period a woman has.

Mons Pubix

The rounded pad of fatty tissue lying over your pubic bones. When you’re standing in front of a mirror naked, you can see it, covered by your pubic hair.

M

N

O

Ovulation

Release of ova (egg) from your ovaries.

P

Progesterone

A steroid hormone released by your corpus luteum (hormone secreting structure in your ovaries) that stimulates your uterus to prepare for pregnancy.

Q

R

S

Speculum

T

Trichomonas

U

Urethra

The duct urine passes out of the body from your bladder, positioned between the clitoris and vaginal opening.

V

Vagina

The muscular canal leading from your external genitals to your cervix, the entry of your uterus.

Vulva

Your external genitalia.

W

X

Y

Yeast

Z

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