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anemia — when the amount of red blood cells or hemoglobin (the substance in the blood that carries oxygen to organs) becomes reduced, causing fatigue that can be severe.

anovulation — absence of ovulation.

bacteria — microorganisms that can cause infections.

bacterial vaginosis (BV) — the most common vaginal infection in women of childbearing age, which happens when the normal bacteria (germs) in the vagina get out of balance, such as from douching or from sexual contact. Symptoms include vaginal discharge that can be white, gray, or thin and have an odor; burning or pain when urinating; or itching around the outside of the vagina. There also may be no symptoms.

benign — noncancerous

biopsy — removal of a small piece of tissue for testing or examination under a microscope.

bladder — the organ in the human body that stores urine. It is found in the lower part of the abdomen.

bowels — also known as the intestine, which is a long tube-like organ in the human body that completes digestion or the breaking down of food. The small bowel is the small intestine and the large bowel is the large intestine.

cancer — a group of diseases in which abnormal cells divide without control. Cancer cells can invade nearby tissues and can spread through the bloodstream and lymphatic system to other parts of the body.

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cervical cancer — happens when normal cells in the cervix change into cancer cells. This change normally takes several years to happen, but it can also happen in a very short amount of time. Before the cells turn into cancer, abnormal cells develop on the cervix that can be found by a Pap test. Women generally don't have symptoms of cervical cancer. But when cervical cancer is not found early and spreads deeper into your cervix or to other tissues or organs, you might have pain during sex; bleeding from your vagina after sex, between periods, or after menopause; heavy vaginal discharge that may have a bad odor; heavier bleeding during your period; or a menstrual period that lasts longer than normal. Human papillomavirus (HPV), a group of viruses, can cause abnormal changes on the cervix that can lead to cervical cancer. HPV is very common, and you can get it through sexual contact with another person who has HPV.

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.

chronic — long lasting condition.

chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) — a complex disorder characterized by extreme fatigue that lasts six months or longer, and does not improve with rest or is worsened by physical or mental activity. Other symptoms can include weakness, muscle pain, impaired memory and/or mental concentration, and insomnia. The cause is unknown.

colon cancer — cancer in the inner lining of the colon, or the part of the large intestine that serves to remove water from digested food and let the remaining material, or stool, move through it to leave the body. Most, if not all, of these cancers develop from growths in the colon called polyps. Removal of these precancerous can prevent colon cancer.

colonoscopy — a diagnostic procedure in which a flexible tube with a light source in inserted into the colon (large intestine or large bowel) through the anus to view all sections of the colon for abnormalities.

colposcopy — procedure that uses a special microscope (called a colposcope) to look into the vagina and to look very closely at the cervix.

condom — a barrier method of birth control. There are both male and female condoms. The male condom is a sheath placed over an erect penis before sex that prevents pregnancy by blocking the passage of sperm. A female condom also is a sheath, but is inserted into the vagina to block the passage of sperm.

diaphragm — birth control device made of a thin flexible disk, usually made of rubber, that is designed to cover the cervix to prevent the entry of sperm during sexual intercourse.

endometrial cancer — cancer that develops from the endometrium, or the inner lining of the uterus (womb).

endometriosis — a condition in which tissue that normally lines the uterus grows in other areas of the body, usually inside the abdominal cavity, but acts as if it were inside the uterus. Blood shed monthly from the misplaced tissue has no place to go, and tissues surrounding the area of endometriosis may become inflamed or swollen. This can produce scar tissue. Symptoms include painful menstrual cramps that can be felt in the abdomen or lower back, or pain during or after sexual activity, irregular bleeding, and infertility.

endometrium — The endometrium is the uterine membrane in women which is thickened in preparation for fertilization, and into which a fertilized egg is implanted upon its arrival into the uterus. It is rich in blood vessels, which are soon connected to by the new embryo, forming a placenta through which the embryo, as it becomes a fetus and eventually gestates fully, receives oxygen and is nourished.

estrogen — a group of female hormones that are responsible for the development of breasts and other secondary sex characteristics in women. Estrogen is produced by the ovaries and other body tissues. Estrogen, along with progesterone, is important in preparing a woman's body for pregnancy.

fallopian tubes — The Fallopian tubes or oviducts are two very fine tubes leading from the ovaries of female mammals into the uterus.

fatigue — a feeling of lack of energy, weariness or tiredness.

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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.

hormone — substance produced by one tissue and conveyed by the bloodstream to another to effect a function of the body, such as growth or metabolism.

hormone replacement therapy (HRT) — replaces the hormones that a woman's ovaries stop making at the time of menopause, easing symptoms like hot flashes and vaginal dryness. HRT combines the female hormones estrogen and progesterone and is usually given in pill form. [A recent study has found that HRT can cause more harm than good in healthy women, and can increase a woman's risk for breast cancer, heart disease, stroke, and pulmonary embolism (blood clot in the lung). Talk with your health care provider to find out if HRT is best for you and about other ways to control menopause symptoms.

hypothyroidism—Too little thyroid hormone. Symptoms include weight gain, constipation, dry skin, and sensitivity to the cold. Also called underactive thyroid.

hysterectomy — surgery to remove the uterus.

inflammation — used to describe an area on the body that is swollen, red, hot, and in pain.

inflammatory bowel disease — long-lasting problems that cause irritation and ulcers in the gastrointestinal tract. The most common disorders are ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease.

interstitial cystitis — a long-lasting condition also known as painful bladder syndrome or frequency-urgency-dysuria syndrome. The wall of the bladder becomes inflamed or irritated, which affects the amount of urine the bladder can hold and causes scarring, stiffening, and bleeding in the bladder.

intrauterine device — a small device that is placed inside a woman's uterus by a health care provider, which prevents pregnancy by changing the environment of the uterus (or womb).

ischemia — decrease in the blood supply to a an organ, tissue, or other part caused by the narrowing or blockage of the blood vessels.

Laparoscopic — Describes a minimally invasive surgical method in which specially trained surgeons use slender instruments and advanced camera systems (a laparoscope) to perform delicate surgeries inside the abdominal cavity. This method of surgery can be conducted through small incisions which usually speeds recovery because it is minimally invasive unlike other methods that require a large open surgical incision.

lesion — an infected or diseased area of skin.

local analgesic — An analgesic is a drug that relieves pain. Pain-relieving drugs can be given to a woman during labor and delivery locally through a needle inserted into a muscle (intra-muscular) or under the skin (subcutaneous).

lymph — the almost colorless fluid that travels through the lymphatic system and carries cells that help fight infection and disease. Lymph tissue in the breast helps remove waste.

malignant — cancerous

menopause — the transition in a woman's life when production of the hormone estrogen in her body falls permanently to very low levels, the ovaries stop producing eggs, and menstrual periods stop for good.

menstruating — The blood flow from the uterus that happens about every 4 weeks in a woman.

Myomectomy — refers to the surgical removal of uterine fibroids. In contrast to a hysterectomy the uterus remains preserved and the woman preserves her reproductive potential.

ovarian cancer — cancer of the ovary or ovaries, which are organs in the female reproductive system that make eggs and hormones. Most ovarian cancers develop from the cells that cover the outer surface of the ovary, called epithelial cells.

ovarian reserve — health of the ovaries and eggs. It is an important factor in female fertility and decreases with age.

ovaries — part of a woman's reproductive system, the ovaries produce her eggs. Each month, through the process called ovulation, the ovaries release eggs into the fallopian tubes, where they travel to the uterus, or womb. If an egg is fertilized by a man's sperm, a woman becomes pregnant and the egg grows and develops inside the uterus. If the egg is not fertilize, the egg and the lining of the uterus is shed during a woman's monthly menstrual period.

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ovulation — the release of a single egg from a follicle that developed in the ovary. It usually occurs regularly, around day 14 of a 28-day menstrual cycle.

ovulation method — a method used by couples trying to get pregnant, in which they have intercourse just before or after ovulation.

pap test — this test finds changes on the cervix. To do a Pap test, the doctor uses a small brush to take cells from the cervix.

Papillomaviruses (HPV) — A member of a family of viruses that can cause abnormal tissue growth (for example, genital warts) and other changes to cells. Infection with certain types of HPV may increase the risk of developing some types of cancer.

pelvic exam — during this exam, the doctor or nurse practitioner looks for redness, swelling, discharge, or sores on the outside and inside of the vagina. A Pap test tests for cell changes on the cervix. The doctor or nurse practitioner will also put two fingers inside the vagina and press on the abdomen with the other hand to check for cysts or growths on the ovaries and uterus. STD tests may also be done.

pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) — an infection of the female reproductive organs that are above the cervix, such as the fallopian tubes and ovaries. It is the most common and serious problem caused by sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). PID can cause ectopic pregnancies, infertility, chronic pelvic pain, and other serious problems. Symptoms include fever, foul-smelling vaginal discharge, extreme pain, and vaginal bleeding.

perimenopause — the transition period of time before menopause, marked by a decreased production of estrogen and progesterone, irregular menstrual periods, and transitory psychological changes.

Precancerous — A term used to describe a condition that may or is likely to become cancer. Also called premalignant.

premenopause — Phase before menopause covering a period of 5-10 years before the last period.

progesterone — a female hormone produced by the ovaries. Progesterone, along with estrogen, prepares the uterus (womb) for a possible pregnancy each month and supports the fertilized egg if conception occurs. Progesterone also helps prepare the breasts for milk production and breastfeeding.

progestin — a hormone that works by causing changes in the uterus. When taken with the hormone estrogen, progestin works to prevent thickening of the lining of the uterus. This is helpful for women who are in menopause and are taking estrogen for their symptoms. Progestins also are prescribed to regulate the menstrual cycle, treat unusual stopping of the menstrual periods, help a pregnancy occur or maintain a pregnancy, or treat unusual or heavy bleeding of the uterus. They also can be used to prevent pregnancy, help treat cancer of the breast, kidney, or uterus, and help treat loss of appetite and severe weight or muscle loss.

puberty — time when the body is changing from the body of a child to the body of an adult. This process begins earlier in girls than in boys, usually between ages 8 and 13, and lasts 2 to 4 years.

thyroid — The thyroid is a small gland in the neck that makes and stores hormones that help regulate heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, and the rate at which food is converted into energy.

ultrasound — a painless, harmless test that uses sound waves to produce images of the organs and structures of the body on a screen. Also called sonography.

urethra — A narrow tube through which urine flows from the bladder to the outside of the body.

urinalysis — a test that looks at urine to find out its content. Can be used to detect some types of diseases.

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urinary tract infection — an infection anywhere in the urinary tract, or organs that collect and store urine and release it from your body (the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra). An infection occurs when microorganisms, usually bacteria from the digestive tract, cling to the urethra (opening to the urinary tract) and begin to multiply.

uterine fibroids — common, benign (noncancerous) tumors that grow in the muscle of the uterus, or womb. Fibroids often cause no symptoms and need no treatment, and they usually shrink after menopause. But sometimes fibroids cause heavy bleeding or pain, and require treatment.

uterus — a woman's womb, or the hollow, pear-shaped organ located in a woman's lower abdomen between the bladder and the rectum.

vagina — The muscular canal that extends from the cervix to the outside of the body. Its walls are lined with mucus membranes and tiny glands that make vaginal secretions.

von Willebrand's disease (vWD) — is the most common hereditary coagulation abnormality described in humans. It arises from a qualitative or quantitative deficiency of von Willebrand factor (vWF), a multimeric protein that is required for platelet adhesion.

yeast infections — a common infection in women caused by an overgrowth of the fungus Candida. It is normal to have some yeast in your vagina, but sometimes it can overgrow because of hormonal changes in your body, such as during pregnancy, or from taking certain medications, such as antibiotics. Symptoms include itching, burning, and irritation of the vagina; pain when urinating or with intercourse; and cottage cheese-looking vaginal discharge.

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