Medical Terminology For Dummies
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Reproduction is a touchy subject, complete with an extensive vocabulary of medical terminology. Make sure you take the time to familiarize yourself with the ins and outs of the female reproductive system.

Common female reproductive conditions

There’s more to the female reproductive system than making babies. With all that equipment, there’s bound to be a fair share of technical difficulties ranging from the downright annoying to the long-lasting:

  • Amenorrhea: Absence of menstrual period

  • Cervicitis: Inflammation of the cervix

  • Dysmenorrhea: Painful menstrual periods

  • Dyspareunia: Painful or difficult intercourse

  • Endometritis: Inflammation of endometrium

  • Gynatresia (atresia): Absence of normal body opening (an occlusion); gynatresia usually refers to part of female genital tract, the vagina

  • HRT (hormone replacement therapy): Replacement of hormones to treat menopausal symptoms

  • Hydrosalpinx: Water in fallopian tube

  • Mastitis: Inflammation of the breast occurring during breastfeeding, usually bacterial in nature

  • Menometrorrhagia: Excessive menstrual flow both during and between menstrual periods

  • Menorrhagia: Heavy menstrual period

  • Oophoritis: Inflammation of ovary

  • PMD (premenstrual dysphoric syndrome): Used to describe severe premenstrual syndrome, which results in a week or two of hormonally triggered clinical depression every month

  • PMS (premenstrual syndrome): Cyclic disorder involving physical and emotional symptoms in the premenstrual phase; symptoms include fatigue, bloating, tension, and irritability

  • Vaginitis: Inflammation of the vagina

Some conditions of the female reproductive system are specifically related to pregnancy and childbirth:

  • Abruptio placentae: Premature separation of placenta from the uterine wall causing bleeding and a rigid, painful abdomen and requiring emergency cesarean section

  • Dystocia: Difficult or abnormal labor

  • Eclampsia: Severe complication of pregnancy involving convulsions and/or coma in a pregnant female

  • Ectopic pregnancy: Pregnancy occurring outside the uterus (tubal pregnancy) requiring emergency surgery

  • Intrauterine fetal death: Fetal death occurring before expected date of birth

  • Missed abortion: A fetal demise has occurred but miscarriage by expulsion has not taken place

  • Placenta previa: Placenta develops in the lower uterine wall and may cover the cervix, blocking the birth canal and requiring a C-section; can be diagnosed by ultrasound

  • Preeclampsia: Condition during pregnancy or shortly after delivery with high blood pressure, edema (swelling), and protein in the urine

  • Salpingocyesis: Pregnancy occurring in fallopian tube or ectopic pregnancy

  • Spontaneous abortion: A miscarriage, usually occurring before 12 weeks of gestation

  • Stillbirth: Fetal death in utero, occurring before delivery

Female reproductive diseases and pathology

A woman’s mental and sexual health are intricately interwoven with physical health. For many women, issues involving reproductive health often have long-lasting effects on feminine and sexual identity. This is especially true if it affects a woman’s ability to conceive or involves loss of reproductive organs, so these diseases and pathological conditions should be addressed with the utmost care and sensitivity.

  • Adenomyosis refers to endometrium growth in the myometrium of the uterus.

  • Breast carcinoma is a malignant tumor of the breast. Tumors may spread to skin, chest wall, and lymph nodes located in axilla; they may metastasize (spread) to other parts of the body, including bones, lungs, liver, brain, and even ovaries.

    Breast carcinoma can be treated in a variety of ways, including lumpectomy (removal of cancerous lump only), removal of breast tissue but preserving skin and nipple for future reconstruction (subcutaneous mastectomy), removal of the entire breast (a simple or total mastectomy), or removal of breast, lymph nodes, and adjacent chest wall muscle in a single procedure (radical mastectomy).

  • Carcinoma of cervix means malignant tumor of the cervix. Papanicolaou (Pap) smear detects early cervical neoplasia by microscopic examination of cells scraped from cervical epithelium.

  • Endometrial carcinoma refers to malignant tumor of the uterus.

  • Endometriosis involves endometrial tissue in an abnormal location, such as the ovaries or intestine, associated with dysmenorrhea, pelvic pain, and infertility.

  • Fibrocystic disease is a disease of the breast. It is a benign condition involving one or more tumors of the breast.

  • Fibroid (leiomyoma) is a benign tumor in the uterus composed of fibrous tissue and muscle, may cause pelvic pain or menorrhagia.

  • Ovarian carcinoma means malignant tumor of the ovary (adenocarcinom). It may be cystic or solid.

  • Ovarian cyst is collections of fluid within a sac or cyst in the ovary.

  • PID (pelvic inflammatory disease) refers to inflammation of female pelvic organs.

  • Prolapsed uterus involves displacement of uterus down into the vagina.

  • Stein-Leventhal syndrome (polycystic ovary syndrome) refers to adrenal gland malfunction resulting in facial hair (hirsutism), weight gain, and infrequent, abnormal, or absent menstrual periods.

  • TSS (toxic shock syndrome) is a severe illness caused by bacterial infection, most often seen in menstruating women using tampons. Staphylococcus aureus is the bacterial culprit.

  • Vesicovaginal fistula is when there is an opening between vagina and urinary bladder.

Female reproductive radiology and diagnostic tests

Thank goodness for modern medicine. It certainly helps ease the mind of many a woman by providing answers to the most pressing female reproductive questions. Most women will be familiar with some of these yearly (or more often for some) tests that, although causing a bit of discomfort at the time, give great comfort in the long run by offering diagnoses for many serious conditions.

  • ART (Assisted reproductive techniques): Includes procedures such as IUI (intrauterine insemination), IVF (in vitro fertilization), and ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection)

  • Hysterosalpingogram: X-ray taken of the uterus and fallopian tubes after a dye is introduced in the uterus to see if it can move freely through the fallopian tubes and out to the ovaries; used to diagnose blockages in tubes that might lead to infertility

  • Mammogram: X-ray film of the breast

  • Papanicolaou (Pap) smear: Sample of cells of cervix are harvested and examined under microscopic analysis; the presence of cervical or vaginal carcinoma can be detected.

  • Pregnancy test: Detects the presence of hCG in the urine or blood to diagnose pregnancy

  • Sonohysterography: Recording uterus by sound waves (ultrasound)

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