Medical Terminology For Dummies
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So, for lack of a better medical terminology metaphor, prefixes and suffixes combined with root words are kind of like ova and sperm. Separately, they don’t make much sense. But together, they produce a whole new being. In this case, of course, it’s a word and not a baby. But they are cute, aren’t they?

Here are some pertinent prefixes and suffixes.

Prefix What It Means
Ante- Before
Dys- Painful, difficult
Endo- Within
Hydro- Water
Intra- Within
Multi- Many
Neo- New
Nulli- None
Peri- Around
Primi- First
Secundi- Second
Suffix What It Means
-algia Pain
-arche Beginning
-cyesis Pregnancy
-ectomy Surgical removal of
-itis Inflammation
-optosis Sagging
-orrhaphy Suture
-orrhea Discharge, flow
-oscopy Visual examination
-otomy Incision into
-parous Bearing, bringing forth
-plasty Surgical repair
-rrhagia Burst forth, excessive flow
-salpinx Fallopian tube
-tocia Labor

By adding in the root words and combining forms, you start to create your own little word babies. If you’ve ever spent any time at the OB-GYN’s office, even as a patient, you will probably recognize many of these female-related roots.

Root Word What It Means
Amni/o Amnion
Cephal/o Head
Cervic/o Cervix/neck
Chori/o Chorion
Colp/o Vagina
Culd/o Retrouterine pouch (cul-de-sac)
Cyes/o, cyes/i Pregnancy
Embry/o Embryo
Endometri/o Endometrium
Episi/o Vulva
Fet/o Fetus
Fimbri/o Fimbria
Galact/o Milk
Genit/o Genitalia
Gonad/o Ovaries
Gravida Pregnancy
Gynec/o, gyn/o Woman, female
Hyster/o Uterus
Lact/o Milk
Lapar/o Abdomen
Mamm/o, mast/o Breast
Men/o Menstruation
Metr/o, metr/io Uterus
Mult/i Many
My/o Muscle
Myometri/o Myometrium
Nat/o, nat/i Birth
Null/i None
Olig/o Scanty
Omphal/o, umbilic/o Umbilicus, navel
Oophor/o Ovary
Ov/o, ov/i, ovul/o Egg, ovum
Papill/o Nipple
Pelv/i, pelv/o Pelvis
Perine/o Perineum
Prim/i First
Pseud/o False
Puerper/o Childbirth
Salping/o Fallopian tube
Umbilic/o Umbilicus, navel
Uter/o Uterus
Vagin/o Vagina
Vulv/o Vulva

There are so many medical terms associated with the female reproductive system that it’s just not possible to classify each and every one of them here However, here is a diverse array of both anatomical and clinical words that will keep you in the know regarding this system.

  • Adnexa: Accessory parts of an organ

  • Anteversion: Forward tipping of the uterus

  • Coitus/copulation: Sexual intercourse

  • Estrogen: Hormone produced by the ovaries responsible for female sex characteristics and building of uterine lining during the menstrual cycle

  • Gynopathic: Pertaining to diseases of women

  • Hydrosalpinx: Water in the fallopian tube

  • Leukorrhea: White vaginal discharge, can sometimes contain white blood cells

  • Mastoptosis: Sagging breasts

  • Menarche: Beginning of menstruation

  • Myometrium: Muscular layer lining the uterus

  • Oligomenorrhea: Scanty menstrual flow

  • Orifice: Opening

  • Progesterone: Hormone produced by the corpus luteum in the ovary and by the placenta during pregnancy

  • Puberty: Beginning of the fertile period when gametes are produced and secondary sex characteristics become evident

  • Retroversion: Abnormal tipping backward of the uterus

  • Salpingitis: Inflammation of fallopian tube

Some medical terms are specific to the obstetrical nature of this system. If you’ll be spending any time in an OB’s office, whether as an employee or patient, these are some handy terms to know:

  • Amnion: Membrane enveloping the fetus

  • Antepartum: Before birth, in relation to the mother

  • Chorion: Outermost extraembryonic membrane enveloping the fetus

  • Congenital anomaly: An abnormality or defect present at birth

  • Ectopic: Occurring away from a normal position

  • Ectopic pregnancy: Pregnancy occurring in the fallopian tube

  • Embryo: The product of conception up to the eight-week period of gestation

  • Fetus: The embryo from second month of pregnancy to delivery

  • Galactorrhea: Discharge of milk from the breast

  • Gestation: Period of time from fertilization to birth — in a human pregnancy, approximately 40 weeks

  • Gravida: A pregnant female

  • Hyperemesis gravidarum: Excessive vomiting during pregnancy

  • Intrapartum: During labor and delivery, in relation to the mother

  • Lochia: The vaginal discharge after childbirth

  • Meconium: First stool of the newborn

  • Multigravida: Female who has been pregnant two or more times

  • Multipara: Female who has given birth to viable offspring two or more times

  • Neonate: A newborn infant from birth to four weeks of age

  • Neonatologist: A physician specializing in neonatology

  • Neonatology: The study, diagnosis, and treatment of disorders of the newborn infant up to one month of age

  • Nulligravida: Female who has never been pregnant

  • Nullipara: Female who has never given birth

  • Parturition: The act of giving birth

  • Postnatal: Period after birth, referring to the newborn

  • Postpartum: After delivery, in relation to the mother

  • Prenatal: Period before birth, referring to the fetus

  • Primigravida: Female who is pregnant for the first time

  • Primipara: Female who has given birth to viable offspring for the first time

  • Pseudocyesis: False pregnancy

  • Puerpera: Female who has just given birth

  • Puerperium: Period after delivery until reproductive organs return to normal, about six to eight weeks

  • Quickening: Female’s first awareness of movement of fetus within the uterus, usually felt at 16–20 weeks’ gestation

  • Secundigravida: Female pregnant for the second time

  • Secundipara: Female who has given birth to viable offspring for the second time

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