Glossary of Terms
Abnormal Uterine Bleeding – Bleeding from the uterus that is different from what is normal for a woman who is not pregnant. This bleeding may vary in how long, how regular, and how often it occurs.
Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) – A group of signs and symptoms, usually of severe infections, in a person who has human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
Adenocarcinoma – Cancer that starts in glandular tissue, such as the uterus.
Adenomyosis – A condition in which the tissue that normally lines the uterus begins to grow in the muscle wall of the uterus.
Adhesions – Scars that can make tissue surfaces stick together.
Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) – A protein made by a fetus. AFP can be found in amniotic fluid and in a pregnant woman’s blood.
Amenorrhea – The absence of menstrual periods in women of reproductive age.
Amniocentesis – A procedure in which amniotic fluid and cells are taken from the uterus for testing. The procedure uses a needle to withdraw fluid and cells from the sac that holds the fetus.
Amniotic Fluid – Fluid in the sac that holds the fetus.
Amniotic Sac – Fluid-filled sac in a woman’s uterus. The fetus develops in this sac.
Anemia – Abnormally low levels of red blood cells in the bloodstream. Most cases are caused by iron deficiency (lack of iron).
Anencephaly – A type of defect that happens when the fetus’s head and brain do not develop normally.
Aneuploidy – Having an abnormal number of chromosomes. Types include trisomy, in which there is an extra chromosome, or monosomy, in which a chromosome is missing. Aneuploidy can affect any chromosome, including the sex chromosomes. Down syndrome (trisomy 21) is a common aneuploidy. Others are Patau syndrome (trisomy 13) and Edwards syndrome (trisomy 18).
Anovulation – Failure to release an egg from the ovary.
Anterior Vaginal Wall Prolapse – Bulging of the bladder into the vagina. Also called a cystocele.
Antibody – A protein in the blood that the body makes in reaction to foreign substances, such as bacteria and viruses.
Antigen – A substance that can trigger an immune response and cause the body to make an antibody.
Apnea – A condition that causes breathing to stop temporarily, especially during sleep.
Apgar Score – A measurement of a baby’s response to birth and life on its own, taken 1 minute and 5 minutes after birth.
Areola – The darker skin around the nipple.
Artificial Insemination – A procedure in which a man’s semen is placed in a woman’s vagina, cervix, or uterus.
Assisted Vaginal Delivery – The use of forceps or a suction device to help guide the fetal head out of the birth canal.
Atrophic Vaginitis – A noninfectious condition linked to a lack of estrogen. Vaginal symptoms may include tissue changes, itching, burning, irritation, discharge, dryness, or inflammation.
Baby Blues – Feelings of sadness, fear, anger, or anxiety occurring about 3 days after childbirth and usually ending within 1 to 2 weeks.
Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) – A condition in which the normal balance of bacteria is changed by an overgrowth of other bacteria. Symptoms may include vaginal discharge, fishy odor, pain, itching, and burning.
Barrier Methods – Birth control that stops sperm from entering the uterus, such as condoms.
Bartholin Glands – Two glands located on either side of the vaginal opening that make a fluid during sexual activity.
Basal Body Temperature (BBT) – The temperature of the body at rest.
Bilateral Salpingo-Oophorectomy – Surgery to remove both ovaries and both fallopian tubes.
Biophysical Profile (BPP) – A test that uses ultrasound to measure a fetus’s breathing, movement, muscle tone, and heart rate. The test also measures the amount of fluid in the amniotic sac.
Biopsy – A minor surgical procedure to remove a small piece of tissue. This tissue is examined under a microscope in a laboratory.
Birth Control – Devices or medications used to prevent pregnancy.
Birth Control Implant – A small, single rod that is inserted under the skin in the upper arm. The implant releases a hormone to prevent pregnancy.
Birth Defect – A physical problem that is present at birth.
Blood Count – A test to count the cells in the blood. This test is done to find anemia or infection.
Body Mass Index (BMI) – A number calculated from height and weight. BMI is used to determine whether a person is underweight, normal weight, overweight, or obese.
Bone Loss – The gradual loss of calcium and protein from bone, making it brittle and more likely to break.
Braxton Hicks Contractions – False labor pains.
BRCA1 and BRCA2 – Genes that keep cells from growing too rapidly. Changes in these genes have been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer and ovarian cancer.
Breakthrough Bleeding – Vaginal bleeding that happens in between regular periods.
Breech Presentation – A position in which the feet or buttocks of the fetus appear first during birth.
CA 125 – A substance in the blood that may increase when a person has cancerous tumors.
Candidiasis – A type of vaginal infection caused by the overgrowth of a fungus. Also called a yeast infection.
Carrier Screening – A test done on a person without signs or symptoms to find out whether he or she carries a gene for a genetic disorder..
Cell-Free DNA – DNA from the placenta that moves freely in a pregnant woman’s blood. Analysis of this DNA can be done as a noninvasive prenatal screening test.
Cerclage – A procedure in which the cervical opening is closed with stitches to prevent or delay preterm birth.
Cervical Biopsy – A minor surgical procedure to remove a small piece of cervical tissue. This tissue is examined under a microscope in a laboratory.
Cervical Cancer – A type of cancer that is in the cervix, the opening to the uterus at the top of the vagina.
Cervical Cytology – The study of cells taken from the cervix using a microscope. Also called a Pap test.
Cervical Insufficiency – A condition in which the cervix is unable to hold a pregnancy in the uterus in the second trimester.
Cervical Intraepithelial Neoplasia (CIN) – Abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix that are caused by infection with human papillomavirus (HPV). CIN is graded as 1 (low grade), 2 (moderate), or 3 (high grade).
Cervical Ripening – When the cervix softens to prepare for labor.
Cervicitis – Inflammation of the cervix due to infectious or noninfectious causes.
Cervix – The lower, narrow end of the uterus at the top of the vagina.
Cesarean Delivery – Delivery of a fetus from the uterus through an incision (cut) made in the woman’s abdomen.
Chancre – A sore caused by syphilis that is found at the place of infection.
Chlamydia – A sexually transmitted infection caused by bacteria. This infection can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility.
Chorioamnionitis – A condition during pregnancy that can cause unexplained fever with uterine tenderness, a high white blood cell count, rapid heart rate in the fetus, rapid heart rate in the woman, and/or foul-smelling vaginal discharge.
Chorion – The outer membrane that surrounds the fetus.
Chorionicity – The number of chorionic (outer) membranes that surround the fetuses in a multiple pregnancy.
Chorionic Villi – Tiny, finger-like growths in the placenta.
Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS) – A procedure in which a small sample of cells is taken from the placenta and tested.
Chromosomes – Structures that are located inside each cell in the body. They contain the genes that determine a person’s physical makeup.
Chronic Hypertension – Blood pressure that is higher than normal for a person’s age, sex, and physical condition.
Chronic Pelvic Pain – Pain in the pelvic region that lasts for more than 6 months.
Cleft Lip – A birth defect that causes an opening or split in the upper lip or roof of the mouth.
Cleft Palate – A birth defect that causes an opening or split in the roof of the mouth.
Clitoris – A female sex organ found near the opening of the vagina.
Clubfoot – A birth defect in which the foot is misshaped and twisted out of position.
Colonoscopy – An exam of the large intestine using a small, lighted instrument.
Colporrhaphy – Surgery done through the vagina to repair a bulge using a woman’s own tissue.
Colostrum – A fluid that comes out of the breasts at the beginning of milk production.
Colposcope – A special magnifying instrument used to examine the cervix, vagina, and vulva.
Colposcopy – Viewing of the cervix, vulva, or vagina under magnification with an instrument called a colposcope.
Combined Spinal-Epidural (CSE) Block – A form of pain relief. Pain medications are injected into the spinal fluid (spinal block) and given through a thin tube into a space at the base of the spine (epidural block).
Complete Blood Count (CBC) – A blood test that measures and describes different cell types in the blood.
Computed Tomography (CT) – A type of X-ray that shows internal organs and structures in cross section.
Cone Biopsy – Surgical removal of cone-shaped wedges of cervical tissue.
Congenital – A condition that a person has from birth.
Congenital Anomaly – Something that is unusual or different at birth.
Congenital Disorder – A condition that a baby has at birth.
Conization – A procedure that removes a cone-shaped wedge of tissue from the cervix.
Contraceptives – Devices or medications used to prevent pregnancy. Also called birth control.
Contraction Stress Test – A test to measure a fetus’s heart rate during mild contractions of a woman’s uterus.
Corpus Luteum – Sac-like tissue that remains after an egg is released from an ovary.
Co-testing – Use of both the Pap test and human papillomavirus (HPV) test to screen for cervical cancer.
Cowden Syndrome – A genetic condition that increases a person’s risk of cancer of the breast, thyroid, uterus, colon, kidney, and skin
Crowning – One of the last phases of childbirth when a large part of the fetus’s scalp is visible at the vaginal opening.
Cryotherapy – A freezing technique used to destroy diseased tissue.
Cyst – A sac or pouch filled with fluid.
Curettage – A procedure that removes a sample of lining of the uterus.
Cystectomy – Surgery to remove a cyst.
Cystic Fibrosis (CF) – An inherited disorder that causes problems with breathing and digestion.
Cystitis – An infection of the bladder.
Cystocele – see Anterior Vaginal Wall Prolapse.
Deceleration – A decrease in the heart rate of a fetus.
Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) – A condition in which a blood clot forms in veins in the leg or other areas of the body.
Depression – Feelings of sadness for periods of at least 2 weeks.
Diabetes Mellitus – A condition in which the levels of sugar in the blood are too high.
Diagnostic Mammography – A test using X-rays to check a breast lump or other condition for cancer.
Dilation – Widening the opening of the cervix.
Dilation and Curettage (D&C) – A procedure that opens the cervix so tissue in the uterus can be removed using an instrument called a curette.
Discordant – A large difference in the size of fetuses in a multiple pregnancy.
Doppler – A form of ultrasound that notes movement, such as the fetus’s heartbeat, and creates sounds you can hear.
Doppler Ultrasound Exam – A type of ultrasound in which sound waves can tell how fast an object is moving. Doppler ultrasound can be used to find the heartbeat of a fetus or how fast blood is moving through a vein or artery.
Down Syndrome (Trisomy 21) – A genetic disorder that causes abnormal features of the face and body, medical problems such as heart defects, and mental disability. Most cases of Down syndrome are caused by an extra chromosome 21 (trisomy 21).
Dysmenorrhea – Discomfort and pain during the menstrual period.
Dyspareunia – Pain with intercourse.
Dysplasia – A noncancerous condition that happens when normal cells are replaced by a layer of abnormal cells.
Dysuria – Pain during urination.
Early Miscarriage – Loss of a pregnancy in the uterus before 13 completed weeks of pregnancy.
Eclampsia – Seizures occurring in pregnancy or after pregnancy that are linked to high blood pressure.
Ectopic Pregnancy – A pregnancy in a place other than the uterus, usually in one of the fallopian tubes.
Edema – Swelling caused by extra fluid in the body.
Edwards Syndrome (Trisomy 18) – A genetic condition that causes serious problems. It causes a small head, heart defects, and deafness.
Effacement – Thinning out of the cervix.
Egg – The female reproductive cell made in and released from the ovaries. Also called the ovum.
Elective Delivery – A delivery that is done for a nonmedical reason.
Elective Procedure – A planned, nonemergency procedure that is chosen by a patient or health care professional. The procedure is seen as positive for the patient but not absolutely necessary.
Electrical Excision – The removal of abnormal growths (on the cervix, vagina, vulva, etc.) using a thin wire loop and electric energy.
Embryo – The stage of development that starts at fertilization (joining of an egg and sperm) and lasts up to 8 weeks.
Endometrial Ablation – A minor surgical procedure in which the lining of the uterus is destroyed to stop or reduce menstrual bleeding.
Endometrial Biopsy – A procedure in which a small amount of the tissue lining the uterus is removed and examined under a microscope.
Endometrial Cancer – Cancer of the lining of the uterus.
Endometrial Hyperplasia – A condition in which the lining of the uterus grows too thick.
Endometriosis – A condition in which tissue that lines the uterus is found outside of the uterus, usually on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and other pelvic structures.
Endometritis – Infection of the lining of the uterus.
Endometrium – The lining of the uterus.
Enterocele – Bulging of the intestine into the upper part of the vagina.
Epidural Block – A type of pain medication that is given through a tube placed in the space at the base of the spine.
Episiotomy – A surgical cut made in the area between the vagina and the anus to widen the vaginal opening for delivery.
Epithelial Ovarian Cancer – The most common kind of ovarian cancer.
Estimated Due Date (EDD) – The estimated date that a baby will be born.
Estrogen – A female hormone produced in the ovaries.
Estrogen Therapy – Treatment in which estrogen is given to relieve symptoms caused when the body does not produce enough estrogen.
Excisional Biopsy – A biopsy that is done by a surgeon using a scalpel or other surgical tools.
Expanded Carrier Screening – A blood test to screen for a large number of genetic disorders.
External Cephalic Version (ECV) – A technique, performed later in pregnancy, in which the doctor attempts to manually move a breech baby into the head-down position.
Factor V Leiden – A genetic disorder that can increase the chance of developing blood clots.
Fallopian Tubes – Tubes through which an egg travels from the ovary to the uterus.
False-Negative – A test result that says you do not have a condition when you do.
False-Positive – A test result that says you have a condition when you do not.
Fertility Awareness – A collection of ways to track a woman’s natural body functioning and determine when she is most likely to get pregnant.
Fertilization – A multistep process that joins the egg and the sperm.
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) – A group of physical, mental, behavioral, and learning disabilities that can occur in a person whose mother drank alcohol during pregnancy.
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) – The most severe disorder resulting from alcohol use during pregnancy. FAS can cause abnormalities in brain development, physical growth, and facial features of a baby or child.
Fetal Blood Sampling – A procedure in which a sample of blood is taken from the fetus’s umbilical cord and tested.
Fetal Fibronectin – A protein that is produced by fetal cells. It helps the amniotic sac stay connected to the lining of the uterus.
Fetal Growth Restriction – A condition in which a fetus has an estimated weight that is less than 90% of other fetuses of the same pregnancy age.
Fetal Monitoring – Methods used to evaluate the well-being of the fetus.
Fetus – The stage of human development beyond 8 completed weeks after fertilization.
Fibroadenoma – A type of solid, noncancerous breast mass.
Fibrocystic Changes – Formation of cysts and lumps of different sizes in the breast. These changes are noncancerous.
Fibroids – Growths that form in the muscle of the uterus. Fibroids usually are noncancerous.
Fistula – An abnormal opening or passage between two organs..
Folate – A B vitamin that women need before and during pregnancy. When found in prenatal vitamins it is called folic acid.
Folic Acid – A vitamin that reduces the risk of certain birth defects when taken before and during pregnancy.
Follicle – The sac-like structure in which an egg develops inside the ovary.
Follicle-Stimulating Hormone (FSH) – A hormone made by the pituitary gland in the brain that helps an egg to mature.
Forceps – An instrument placed around the fetus’s head to help guide it out of the birth canal during birth.
Forceps Assistance – Using forceps to help guide the fetus’s head out of the birth canal.
Fragile X Syndrome – A genetic disease of the X chromosome that is the most common inherited cause of mental disability.
Fraternal Twins – Twins that have developed from two different fertilized eggs.
Frequency – Needing to urinate more than seven times per day, or more often than is usual for you.
Full Term – The period of pregnancy from 39 weeks and 0 days through 40 weeks and 6 days.
Functional Cyst – A noncancerous cyst that forms in an ovary. This cyst usually resolves on its own without treatment.
Fundal Height – The distance from your pubic bone to the top of your uterus. When measured throughout pregnancy, the fundal height helps determine the size and growth rate of the fetus.
Gastroschisis – A birth defect in which a hole in the abdominal wall of the fetus lets the bowel stick out. This defect can be diagnosed during pregnancy with ultrasound and treated with surgery after birth.
Gene – A segment of DNA that contains instructions for the development of a person’s physical traits and control of the processes in the body. The gene is the basic unit of heredity and can be passed from parent to child.
General Anesthesia – The use of drugs that create a sleep-like state to prevent pain during surgery.
Genetic Counselor – A health care professional with special training in genetics who can provide expert advice about genetic disorders and prenatal testing.
Genetic Disorders – Disorders caused by a change in genes or chromosomes.
Genital Herpes – A sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by a virus. Herpes causes painful, highly infectious sores on or around the vulva and penis.
Genitourinary Syndrome of Menopause (GSM) – A collection of signs and symptoms caused by a decrease in estrogen and other sex hormones. Signs and symptoms can include vaginal dryness, pain with sex, bladder symptoms, frequent urinary tract infections (UTIs), burning, itching, and irritation.
Gestational Age – How far along a woman is in her pregnancy, usually reported in weeks and days.
Gestational Diabetes – Diabetes that starts during pregnancy.
Gestational Hypertension – High blood pressure that is diagnosed after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
Glucose – A sugar in the blood that is the body’s main source of fuel.
Goiter – An enlarged thyroid gland that causes a lump in the neck.
Gonorrhea – A sexually transmitted infection that can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, and arthritis.
Group B Streptococcus (GBS) – A type of bacteria that many people carry normally and can be passed to the fetus at the time of delivery. GBS can cause serious infection in some newborns. Antibiotics are given during labor to women who carry the bacteria to prevent newborn infection.
Gynecologic Oncologist – A doctor with special training and experience in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer of the female reproductive organs.
Gynecologist – A doctor with special training and education in women’s health.
Gynecology – The branch of medicine that involves care of the female reproductive system and breasts.
HELLP Syndrome – A severe type of preeclampsia. HELLP stands for hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, and low platelet count.
Hemoglobin – The protein molecule in red blood cells that carries oxygen from the lungs to the body and returns carbon dioxide from the body to lungs.
Hemorrhage – Heavy bleeding.
Hemorrhoids – Swollen blood vessels located in or around the anus.
Herpes Zoster (Shingles) – A disease caused by re-awakening of the varicella zoster (chickenpox) virus in people who have had chickenpox. Shingles cause a painful rash and blisters.
High Blood Pressure – Blood pressure above the normal level. Also called hypertension.
Hirsutism – Excessive hair on the face, abdomen, and chest.
Hormone – A substance made in the body that controls the function of cells or organs.
Hormone Therapy – Treatment in which estrogen and often progestin are taken to help relieve symptoms that may happen around the time of menopause.
Hot Flashes – Sensations of heat in the skin that occur when estrogen levels are low. Also called hot flushes.
Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG) – A hormone made during pregnancy. Checking for this hormone is the basis for most pregnancy tests.
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) – A virus that attacks certain cells of the body’s immune system. If left untreated, HIV can cause acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).
Human Papillomavirus (HPV) – The name for a group of related viruses, some of which cause genital warts and some of which are linked to cancer of the cervix, vulva, vagina, penis, anus, mouth, and throat.
Hydramnios – A condition in which there is an excess amount of amniotic fluid in the sac surrounding the fetus.
Hydatidiform Mole – An abnormal pregnancy that happens when a sperm fertilizes an egg that does not contain any genetic material. This type of pregnancy may be precancerous and must be treated. Also called a molar pregnancy.
Hymen – A membrane at the entrance of the vaginal opening.
Hyperthyroidism – A condition in which the thyroid gland makes too much thyroid hormone.
Hypothyroidism – A condition in which the thyroid gland makes too little thyroid hormone.
Hysterectomy – Surgery to remove the uterus.
Hysterosalpingogram – An X-ray procedure in which a small amount of a special dye is used to view the inside of the uterus and fallopian tubes.
Hysterosalpingography – A special X-ray procedure in which a small amount of fluid is placed in the uterus and fallopian tubes to find abnormal changes or see if the tubes are blocked.
Hysteroscope – A thin, lighted telescope that is used to look inside the uterus and do procedures.
Hysteroscopy – A procedure in which a lighted telescope is inserted into the uterus through the cervix to view the inside of the uterus or perform surgery.
Identical Twins – Twins that have developed from a single fertilized egg and that are usually genetically identical.
Implantation – The stage of pregnancy when the blastocyst attaches to the wall of the uterus.
Implantation Bleeding – A small amount of spotting or bleeding that happens early in pregnancy, about 2 weeks after ovulation. This may be a sign that a fertilized egg has attached to the lining of the uterus.
In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) – A procedure in which an egg is removed from a woman’s ovary, fertilized in a laboratory with the man’s sperm, and then transferred to the woman’s uterus to achieve a pregnancy.
Incompetent Cervix – A cervix that begins to dilate (open) earlier than it should in pregnancy without uterine contractions.
Infertility – The inability to get pregnant after 1 year of having regular sexual intercourse without the use of birth control.
Informed Consent – The process by which a patient gains an understanding of the risks and benefits of a medical procedure or treatment as well as the alternatives.
Insulin – A hormone that lowers the levels of glucose (sugar) in the blood.
Internal Os – The internal opening of the cervix into the uterus.
Intimate Partner Violence – The use of physical, sexual, or emotional threats or actions against a current or former romantic partner. This type of violence is aimed at establishing control over the other person.
Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy – A liver condition that develops during pregnancy.
Intrauterine Device (IUD) – A small device that is inserted and left inside the uterus to prevent pregnancy.
Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) – A procedure in which a man’s sperm is placed in a woman’s uterus.
Iron-Deficiency Anemia – Abnormally low levels of iron in the blood.
Jaundice – A buildup of bilirubin (a brownish yellow substance formed from the breakdown of red cells in the blood) that causes the skin to have a yellowish appearance.
Kegel Exercises – Pelvic muscle exercises. Doing these exercises helps with bladder and bowel control as well as sexual function.
Kick Count – A record kept during late pregnancy of the number of times a fetus moves over a certain period.
Labia – Folds of skin on either side of the opening of the vagina.
Labia Majora – The outer folds of tissue of the external female genital area.
Labia Minora – The inner folds of tissue of the external female genital area.
Labor – Contractions of the uterus that cause the cervix to open, thin, and stretch to allow delivery of the baby.
Labor Induction – The use of medication or other methods to start labor.
Laborist – An obstetrician–gynecologist who works for a hospital or physician group and whose job is to care for laboring women and manage labor and delivery emergencies.
Lactation – Production of breast milk.
Lactobacilli – A type of bacteria normally found in large numbers in the vagina. These bacteria help keep the vagina acidic and prevent overgrowth of unhealthy bacteria.
Laparoscope – A thin, lighted telescope that is inserted through a small incision (cut) in the abdomen to view internal organs or to perform surgery.
Laparoscopic Sterilization – Sterilization that is done by laparoscopy, a type of surgery that uses a thin, lighted telescope and other devices inserted through small incisions (cuts) in the abdomen.
Laparoscopic Surgery – A type of surgery that uses a thin, lighted telescope and other devices inserted through small incisions (cuts) in the abdomen.
Laparoscopy – A surgical procedure in which a thin, lighted telescope called a laparoscope is inserted through a small incision (cut) in the abdomen. The laparoscope is used to view the pelvic organs. Other instruments can be used with it to perform surgery.
Last Menstrual Period (LMP) – The date of the first day of the last menstrual period before pregnancy. The LMP is used to estimate the date of delivery.
Late Term – In pregnancy, the period from 41 weeks and 0 days through 41 weeks and 6 days.
Leiomyomas – Noncancerous growths that form in the muscle of the uterus. Also called fibroids.
Ligament – A band of tissue that connects bones or supports large internal organs.
Linea Nigra – A line running from the belly button to pubic hair that darkens during pregnancy.
Listeria – A type of bacteria that causes foodborne illness.
Listeriosis – A type of illness you can get from bacteria found in unpasteurized milk, hot dogs, luncheon meats, and smoked seafood.
Local Anesthesia – The drugs that stop pain in a part of the body.
Lochia – Vaginal discharge that happens after delivery.
Long-Acting Reversible Contraception (LARC) – Birth control methods that are highly effective in preventing pregnancy and can be used for several years. These include the intrauterine device (IUD) and the birth control implant.
Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure (LEEP) – A procedure that removes abnormal tissue from the cervix using a thin wire loop and electric energy.
Low Birth Weight – Weighing less than 5 1/2 pounds (2,500 grams) at birth.
Lumpectomy – Surgery to remove a lump in the breast.
Lupus – An autoimmune disorder that affects the connective tissues in the body. The disorder can cause arthritis, kidney disease, heart disease, blood disorders, and complications during pregnancy. Also called systemic lupus erythematosus or SLE.
Luteinizing Hormone (LH) – A hormone made in the pituitary gland that helps an egg to be released from the ovary.
Lymph Nodes – Small groups of special tissue that carry lymph, a liquid that bathes body cells. Lymph nodes are connected to each other by lymph vessels. Together, these make up the lymphatic system.
Lynch Syndrome – A genetic condition that increases a person’s risk of cancer of the colon, rectum, ovary, uterus, pancreas, and bile duct.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) – A test to view internal organs and structures by using a strong magnetic field and sound waves.
Malaria – A disease caused by a parasite that is spread through mosquito bites.
Malignant – A way to describe abnormal cells or tumors that are able to spread to other parts of the body.
Mammogram – An X-ray image used to show breast cancer or other breast problems.
Mammography – X-rays of the breast that are used to find breast cancer or other breast problems.
Mastectomy – Surgery to remove part or all of the breast.
Mastitis – Infection of the breast tissue that can occur during breastfeeding.
Maternal–Fetal Medicine (MFM) Specialist – An obstetrician–gynecologist with additional training in caring for women with high-risk pregnancies. Also called a perinatologist.
Measles–Mumps–Rubella (MMR) Vaccine – A shot given to protect against measles, mumps, and rubella. The shot contains live viruses that have been changed to not cause disease. The shot is not recommended for pregnant women.
Meconium – A greenish substance that builds up in the bowels of a fetus.
Melasma – A common skin problem that causes brown to gray-brown patches on the face. Also known as the “mask of pregnancy.”
Menarche – The time in a young woman’s life when menstrual periods begin.
Meningitis – Inflammation of the covering of the brain or spinal cord.
Menopause – The time when a woman’s menstrual periods stop permanently. Menopause is confirmed after 1 year of no periods.
Menstrual Cycle – The monthly process of changes that occur to prepare a woman’s body for possible pregnancy. A menstrual cycle is defined as the first day of menstrual bleeding of one cycle to the first day of menstrual bleeding of the next cycle.
Menstrual Period – The monthly shedding of blood and tissue from the uterus.
Menstruation – The monthly shedding of blood and tissue from the uterus that happens when a woman is not pregnant.
Metabolism – The physical and chemical processes in the body that maintain life.
Metastasize – Spreading of cancer to other parts of the body.
Microcephaly – A birth defect in which a baby’s head and brain are smaller than normal. Babies with microcephaly may have seizures, developmental delays, mental disability, vision and hearing problems, and problems with balance and movement.
Milk Ducts – Small tubes that bring milk from milk lobules to the nipple.
Milk Lobules – Small structures in the breast that make and store milk when a woman is breastfeeding.
Minimally Invasive Surgery – Surgery done through a very small cut.
Miscarriage – Loss of a pregnancy that is in the uterus.
Mixed Urinary Incontinence – Involuntary loss of urine when there is urgency to urinate and when there is physical exertion, sneezing, or coughing.
Molar Pregnancy – An abnormal pregnancy that happens when a sperm fertilizes an egg that does not contain any genetic material. This type of pregnancy may be precancerous and must be treated. Also called a hydatidiform mole.
Multiple Pregnancy – A pregnancy where there are two or more fetuses.
Myomectomy – Surgery to uterine fibroids only, leaving the uterus in place.
Myometrium – The muscular layer of the uterus.
Narcotics – Drugs used for pain control that can also be abused.
Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) – A special part of a hospital in which sick newborns receive medical care.
Neonatologist – A doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders that affect newborn infants.
Neural Tube Defect (NTD) – A birth defect that results from a problem in development of the brain, spinal cord, or their coverings.
Nicotine – An addictive drug found in tobacco.
Nitrous Oxide – A gas with no odor that when inhaled causes you to feel relaxed and calm. Also known as laughing gas.
Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) – Drugs that relieve pain by reducing inflammation. Many types are available over the counter, including ibuprofen and naproxen.
Nonstress Test – A test in which changes in the fetal heart rate are recorded using an electronic fetal monitor.
Nuchal Translucency Screening – A test to screen for certain birth defects, such as Down syndrome, Edwards syndrome, or heart defects. The screening uses ultrasound to measure fluid at the back of the fetus’s neck.
Obesity – A condition characterized by excessive body fat.
Obstetrician – A doctor who cares for women during their pregnancy and labor.
Obstetrician–Gynecologist (Ob-Gyn) – A doctor with special training and education in women’s health.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea – A serious sleep disorder that causes a person to have brief pauses in breathing during sleep.
Oligohydramnios – A small amount of fluid around the fetus in pregnancy.
Oophorectomy – Surgery to remove an ovary.
Oral Contraceptives – Medications used to prevent pregnancy or to decrease monthly bleeding and pain caused by the menstrual cycle.
Orgasm – The feelings of physical pleasure that can happen during sexual activity
Osteoporosis – A condition of thin bones that could allow them to break more easily.
Ovarian Cancer – Cancer that affects one or both of the ovaries.
Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome – A condition caused by overstimulation of the ovaries that may cause painful swelling of the ovaries and fluid in the abdomen.
Ovary – An organ in women that contains the eggs necessary to get pregnant and makes important hormones, such as estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone.
Ovulation – The time when an ovary releases an egg.
Oxytocin – A hormone made in the body that can cause contractions of the uterus and release of milk from the breast.
Pap Test – A test in which cells are taken from the cervix (or vagina) to look for signs of cancer.
Parvovirus – A virus that can be passed to the fetus during pregnancy and cause harm.
Patau Syndrome (Trisomy 13) – A genetic condition that causes serious problems. It involves the heart and brain, cleft lip and palate, and extra fingers and toes.
Pelvic Exam – A physical examination of a woman’s pelvic organs.
Pelvic Floor – A muscular area that supports a woman’s pelvic organs.
Pelvic Floor Disorder – Any disorder which affects the muscles and tissues that support the pelvic organs.
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) – An infection of the upper female genital tract.
Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP) – A condition in which a pelvic organ drops down. This condition is caused by weakening of the muscles and tissues that support the organs in the pelvis, including the vagina, uterus, and bladder.
Perimenopause – The time period leading up to menopause.
Perineal Tear – A tear that occurs in the area between the vagina and the anus. A tear can happen at the time of vaginal delivery.
Perineum – The area between the vagina and the anus.
Pertussis – A contagious respiratory infection. Also known as whooping cough.
Pessary – A device that can be inserted into the vagina. It is typically used to support organs that have dropped down from their normal position or to help control urine leakage.
Placenta – An organ that provides nutrients to and takes waste away from the fetus.
Placenta Accreta – A condition in which part or all of the placenta attaches abnormally to the uterus.
Placental Abruption – A condition in which the placenta has begun to separate from the uterus before the fetus is born.
Placenta Previa – A condition in which the placenta covers the opening of the uterus.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) – A condition that leads to a hormone imbalance that affects a woman’s monthly menstrual periods, ovulation, ability to get pregnant, and metabolism.
Polyhydramnios – A large amount of fluid surrounding the fetus in pregnancy.
Polyp – An abnormal tissue growth that can develop on the inside of an organ.
Postpartum – Related to the weeks following the birth of a child.
Postpartum Depression – A type of depressive mood disorder that develops in the first year after the birth of a child. This type of depression can affect a woman’s ability to take care of her child..
Preeclampsia – A disorder that can occur during pregnancy or after childbirth in which there is high blood pressure and other signs of organ injury. These signs include an abnormal amount of protein in the urine, a low number of platelets, abnormal kidney or liver function, pain over the upper abdomen, fluid in the lungs, or a severe headache or changes in vision.
Pregestational Diabetes Mellitus – Diabetes that existed before pregnancy.
Premature Rupture of Membranes (PROM) – Rupture of the amniotic membranes that happens before labor begins. Also called premature rupture of membranes.
Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) – A term used to describe a group of physical and behavioral changes that some women experience before their menstrual periods every month.
Prenatal Care – A program of care for a pregnant woman before the birth of her baby.
Preterm – Less than 37 weeks of pregnancy.
Progesterone – A female hormone that is made in the ovaries and prepares the lining of the uterus for pregnancy.
Progestin – A synthetic form of progesterone that is similar to the hormone made naturally by the body.
Rectocele – see Posterior Vaginal Wall Prolapse.
Rectovaginal Exam – An exam in which an ob-gyn or other health care professional checks the muscles and tissues between a woman’s vagina and anus.
Recurrent Pregnancy Loss – The loss of two or more pregnancies.
Recurrent Early Pregnancy Loss – The loss of two or more pregnancies before 10 weeks of pregnancy.
Rh Factor – A protein that can be found on the surface of red blood cells.
Rh Immunoglobulin (RhIg) – A substance given to prevent an Rh-negative person’s antibody response to Rh-positive blood cells.
Rubella – A virus that can be passed to the fetus if a woman becomes infected during pregnancy. The virus can cause miscarriage or severe birth defects.
Salpingectomy – Surgery to remove one or both of the fallopian tubes.
Salpingitis – Inflammation of the fallopian tube.
Salpingo-oophorectomy – Surgery to remove an ovary and fallopian tube.
Screening Mammography – Mammography that is done to screen for breast cancer.
Screening Tests – Tests that look for possible signs of disease in people who do not have signs or symptoms.
Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) – An infection that is spread by sexual contact. Infections include chlamydia, gonorrhea, human papillomavirus (HPV), herpes, syphilis, and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV, the cause of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome [AIDS]).
Shoulder Dystocia – A situation during labor when one or both of a fetus’s shoulders get stuck inside the woman’s body after the fetus’s head has come out. Extra steps may be needed to deliver the baby.
Sitz Bath – A method for easing pain and swelling in the genitals. It involves sitting in a basin of warm water that is just deep enough to cover your buttocks and hips.
Sonohysterography – A procedure in which sterile fluid is injected into the uterus through the cervix while ultrasound images are taken of the inside of the uterus.
Speculum – An instrument used to hold open the walls of the vagina.
Spina Bifida – A type of birth defect that happens when the spine of the fetus does not completely close during pregnancy. This leads to an exposed spinal cord or membranes, which causes paralysis or weakness of the lower limbs.
Spinal Block – A type of regional anesthesia or analgesia in which pain medications are injected into the spinal fluid.
Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) – An inherited disorder that causes wasting of the muscles and severe weakness. SMA is the leading genetic cause of death in infants.
Spontaneous Vaginal Birth – A vaginal birth that occurs without assistance from forceps or a suction device.
Squamous Intraepithelial Lesion (SIL) – A term used to describe abnormal cervical cells detected by a Pap test.
Sterilization – A permanent method of birth control.
Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI) – Involuntary loss of urine with physical exertion, sneezing, or coughing.
Stillbirth – Birth of a dead fetus.
Syphilis – A sexually transmitted infection (STI) that is caused by an organism called Treponema pallidum. This infection may cause major health problems or death in its later stages.
Teratoma – A noncancerous mass on the ovary.
Tetanus Toxoid, Reduced Diphtheria Toxoid and Acellular Pertussis (Tdap) Vaccine – A shot that protects again tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough).
Torsion – Twisting of an organ in the body.
Toxic Shock Syndrome – A severe illness caused by a bacterial infection. It can be caused by leaving a tampon in the vagina too long.
Toxoplasmosis – An infection caused by Toxoplasma gondii, an organism that may be found in raw meat, garden soil, and cat feces (stool). This infection can harm a fetus.
Transabdominal Ultrasound Exam – A type of ultrasound in which a device is moved across the abdomen.
Transvaginal Ultrasound Exam – A type of ultrasound in which the device is placed in your vagina.
Transverse Incision – A horizontal cut in the lower part of the uterus during cesarean birth.
Trisomy – A problem where there is an extra chromosome.
Trisomy 13 – See Patau Syndrome (Trisomy 13)
Trisomy 18 – See Edwards Syndrome (Trisomy 18)
Trisomy 21 – See Down Syndrome (Trisomy 21)
Tubal Ligation – Blocking of the fallopian tubes.
Tubal Sterilization – A method of sterilization for women. The fallopian tubes are tied, banded, clipped, or sealed with electric current. The tubes also can be removed.
Ultrasonography – A test in which sound waves are used to examine inner parts of the body. During pregnancy, ultrasonography can be used to check the fetus.
Ultrasound Exam – A test in which sound waves are used to examine inner parts of the body. During pregnancy, ultrasound can be used to check the fetus.
Umbilical Cord Prolapse – A problem that causes the umbilical cord to come out of the vagina before delivery. This is an emergency situation during childbirth.
Urethrocele – Bulging of bladder into the vagina.
Urgency – A strong desire to urinate that is difficult to control.
Urinalysis – A test to check a urine sample.
Urinary Frequency – The number of time a person urinates over a defined period of time.
Urinary Incontinence – Involuntary loss of urine.
Uterine Prolapse – A condition in which the uterus drops into or out of the vagina.
Uterus – A muscular organ in the female pelvis. During pregnancy, this organ holds and nourishes the fetus. Also called the womb.
Vagina – A tube-like structure surrounded by muscles. The vagina leads from the uterus to the outside of the body.
Vaginal Atrophy – Thinning and drying of the tissues of the vagina caused by a decline in estrogen. This condition can lead to pain during sexual intercourse or other types of vaginal penetration. Also called atrophic vaginitis.
Vaginitis – A range of conditions that cause vaginal itching, burning, irritation, dryness, inflammation, and/or discharge.
Varicose Veins – Swollen, twisted veins often caused by poor blood flow.
Vertex Presentation – A head-down position of a fetus before birth.
Vulva – The external female genital area.
Vulvodynia – Pain in the vulva that does not go away or keeps coming back and does not have a specific cause.
Well-Woman Visit – An annual checkup with a healthcare professional that focuses on a woman’s sexual, reproductive, and overall health.
Yeast Infection – An infection caused by an overgrowth of a fungus. Symptoms may include itching, burning, and irritation of the vulva or vagina and a thick, white discharge.
Zika – A disease caused by the Zika virus, which is spread through mosquito bites.