Glossary

Comprehensive glossary of terms to clarify site content.

  • Amenorrhea – the absence of menstruation (woman’s period)
  • Anemia – a reduction of the amount of iron in the blood
  • Cervix – the neck of the womb (uterus)
  • Coil – commonly used term for the intrauterine device (IUD)
  • Combined oral contraceptive (COC) – a hormonal contraceptive containing both estrogen and progestogen
  • Contraceptive implant – a small, long-acting reversible contraceptive (LARC) placed just beneath the skin. It releases etonogestrel, a synthetic progestogen hormone
  • Dysmenorrhoea – painful menstruation (periods)
  • Ectopic pregnancy – a potentially dangerous complication of pregnancy when the fertilized egg implants in the Fallopian tube (or very rarely, the pelvis or abdomen) instead of in the womb
  • Edema – excessive build-up of fluid, mainly water, in the tissue spaces of the body and occurs commonly in the feet and legs
  • Embolism – blocking of an blood vessel by a solid or gaseous material (known as an embolus)
  • Embolus – material in the bloodstream carried to a point where it causes obstruction to the blood flow (see embolism)
  • Endocarditis – inflammation of the endocardium (internal lining of the heart) particularly of the heart valves, usually due to infection
  • Endometrial ablation – a treatment for menorrhagia (heavy periods) in which the endometrium (the lining of the womb) is removed or destroyed
  • Endometrial hyperplasia – an excessive thickening of the womb lining (the endometrium)
  • Endometrium – the lining of the womb (the uterus) that undergoes changes in structure and thickness at different stages within the menstrual cycle, much of if which is shed during a woman’s period
  • Estrogen replacement therapy (ERT) – this is when estrogen is used to treat women whose ovaries no longer produce sufficient estrogen and where there are menopausal symptoms like hot flushes and night sweats. ERT also helps to limit osteoporosis (thinning of the bones)
  • Estrogens – a group of steroid sex hormones secreted mainly by the ovaries and also by the testicles. They are responsible for the development of female secondary sexual characteristics and act on the lining of the womb, in conjunction with another hormone (progesterone) to make it ready for implantation of a fertilized egg (ovum)
  • Etonogestrel - a synthetic progestogen hormone released by the contraceptive implant
  • Fallopian tube – the open-ended tube along which eggs (ova) travel from the ovaries to the womb and in which fertilization must occur if pregnancy is to result
  • Fibroids – a common non-cancerous growth of fibrous and muscular tissue growing in the wall of the womb (uterus) that usually occurs in women over 30. They are often painful and result in heavy periods and can be removed if necessary
  • Hormonal coil – commonly used term for intrauterine system (IUS)
  • Hormone replacement therapy(HRT) – the use of hormones to replace those lost during the menopause (when there is a reduction and finally a cessation in the production of estrogen by the ovaries). As estrogen alone can cause negative effects on the lining of the womb, it should be prescribed in conjunction with a progestogen that protects the womb lining
  • Hysterectomy – surgical removal of the womb either through the vagina or an incision in the abdominal wall. A hysterectomy may be performed to treat serious conditions associated with the womb such as the presence of fibroids, cancer and excessive periods (menorrhagia)
  • Intrauterine device (IUD) – a small long-acting reversible contraceptive (LARC) placed in the womb that can provide contraceptive protection for up to 5 to 10 years, depending on the model used
  • Intrauterine system (IUS) - a small, hormone-releasing long-acting reversible contraceptive (LARC) placed in the womb that provides contraception protection for up to 5 years
  • Levonorgestrel – the hormone released by the intrauterine system
  • Medroxyprogesterone acetate – the synthetic progestogen hormone in the 3-monthly contraceptive injection
  • Menopause – the time in a woman’s life when the ovaries cease to produce eggs (ova) and estrogen production slows down and eventually ceases. The reduced production can lead symptoms such as hot flushes and night sweats as well as loss of bone (osteoporosis)
  • Menorrhagia – abnormally long and heavy periods which is often due to the excessive build-up of the lining of the womb (the endometrium)
  • Osteoporosis – loss of bone that occurs most commonly in women after the menopause when the production of estrogen has ceased. Bone thinning can increase the risk of fractures
  • Ovary – one of a pair of female gonads, situated in the pelvis, one on each side of the womb (uterus). They release one or more eggs a month around 14 days before the start of periods (menstruation)
  • Ovarian cysts – fluid-filled closed sacs growing from an ovary. They are usually harmless and symptom-free
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) – persistent infection of the female reproductive organs. Can be caused by a sexually transmitted disease or infection after childbirth or abortion
  • Perimenopausal - the time leading up to menopause when oestrogen levels begin to drop
  • Progesterone – the hormone produced by the ovaries and by the placenta. During the menstrual cycle progesterone predisposes the lining of the womb (the endometrium) to receive and retain a fertilized egg
  • Progestogen – a group of drugs chemically similar to the natural hormone progesterone
  • Rhinitis – inflammation of the mucus membrane of the nose. A major feature of the common cold and hay fever
  • Spotting – a small amount of blood loss during your menstrual cycle
  • Sterilization (female)– a procedure on the Fallopian tubes that renders a woman incapable of reproduction
  • Thrombosis – a blood clot in an artery or vein that reduces blood flow
  • Uterus (see womb)
  • Valvular heart disease – disease of the heart valves
  • Womb – also known as the uterus, the womb is a hollow and muscular organ at the upper end of the vagina. This is where the fetus grows and is nourished until birth