OB/GYN Vocabulary Terms

Glossary of OB/GYN Terms


What is Abnormal Uterine Bleeding?
Abnormal uterine bleeding is when you bleed outside of your normal monthly period.

What is an Abscess?
When pus is collected and located in tissue or an organ.

What is Adenomyosis?
Tissue that typically lines the uterus then begins to grow in the muscle wall of the uterus.

What is an Adhesion?
This is when scars bind together on the surface of the tissue.

What is Amniotic Fluid?
A water-filled sac surrounding the fetus in the mother’s uterus.

What is an Amniotic Sac?
A sac in the mother’s uterus that is filled with fluid where the fetus develops.

What are Androgens?
Sterioid hormones that are produced by the ovaries promoting characteristics that include significant facial hair and a deep voice.

What is an Antibiotic?
Medication that treats certain types of infections.

What are Antibodies?
Produced by the immune system, these are proteins located in the blood identify and neutralize foreign substances, such as bacteria and viruses that cause infection.

What is an Anus?
The opening of the alimentary canal on the outside of the body.

What is an Assisted Vaginal Delivery?
When the help of forceps or a vacuum device is used in a vaginal delivery.

What is an Atypical Hyperplasia?
When cells in the breast or lobes or ducts increase in number and look abnormal under a microscope.


What is Bacterial Vaginosis?
An infection in the vagina caused by the overgrowth of a number of organisms that are normally found in the vagina.

What is the Barrier Method?
A type of contraception when sperm is prevented from entering the female reproductive system.

What is the Bartholin Gland?
About the size of a pea, they are one of two small organs that are located just under the skin at the entrance to the vagina and produce some of the lubrication during sexual excitement.

What does it mean to be Benign?
This is describing when something is non-cancerous.

What is a Biopsy?
A (minor) surgical procedure removing a small piece of tissue that’s examined in a laboratory under a microscope.

What is Birth Control?
A method in pregnancy prevention.

What does it mean to be Bisexual?
When someone is sexually attracted to men and women.

What is a Bladder?
The muscular organ that stores urine.


What is Cardiovascular Disease?
Heart diseases with conditions including diseased vessels, structural problems and blood clots.

What is a Catheter?
This is a tube that is used to drain urine or other fluids from the body.

What are Cells?
With the ability to independently replicate these are the smallest units of a structure in the body; the building blocks for all parts of the body.

What is Cervical Cancer?
Cancer in the cervix which is the opening to the uterus at the top of the vagina.

What is Cervical Ripening?
When the cervix softens in preparation for labor.

What is a Cervix?
The narrow, lower end of the uterus is located at the top of the vagina.

What is a Cesarean Delivery?
When surgical incisions are made in the mother’s abdomen and uterus to deliver a baby.

What is a Chancre?
A syphilis sore that appears at the place of infection.

What is Chemotherapy?
Cancer treatment using certain drugs to destroy malignant cells.

What is Chlamydia?
An STI caused by bacteria that can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility.

What are Chromosomes?
DNA molecule inside each cell in the body and contain the genes that determine a person’s physical makeup.

What is Chronic Hypertension?
When high blood pressure is diagnosed before pregnancy.

What does it mean to identify as Cisgender?
When the gender identity is the same as the sex they were assigned at birth.

What is a Condom?
A thin rubber sheath that is used to cover the penis during sexual intercourse to prevent sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy.

What are Corticosteroids?
Typically, in possible premature birth cases; hormones are given to assist with maturing fetal lungs, for arthritis, or for other medical conditions.
Cysts: Fluid-filled sacs.

What is Contraception?
Birth control methods


What is Deep Vein Thrombosis?
When blood clot forms in veins in areas of the body.

What is Diabetes Mellitus?
When the levels of sugar in the blood are too high.

What is Dilation and Curettage (D&C)?
When the cervix is opened (or dilated) and tissue is lightly scraped (curettage) or suctioned from the inside of the uterus.

What is a Disseminated Gonococcal Infection?
An infection from a previous untreated infection with gonorrhea and can be life-threatening. Symptoms you may experience will include chills, skin sores, fever or pain in the fingers, knees, or toes.

What is Dysmenorrhea?
When there is discomfort and pain during a menstrual period.

What Is Dysuria?
When there is discomfort and pain during urination.


What is Eclampsia?
Seizures that occur in pregnancy that is related to high blood pressure.

What is an Ectopic Pregnancy?
A type of pregnancy that results in a fertilized egg growing in a place other than inside the uterus, typically in one of the fallopian tubes.

What is an Egg?
The cell in the female reproductive system that is produced in and released from the ovaries.

What is an Electrocautery?
When a medical instrument works with an electric current to destroy tissue.

What is Emergency Contraception (EC)?
Forms of contraception that are used after sexual intercourse and no preventative methods were used or defective methods. Typically, contraceptive pills are administered within a specific time frame.

What is Endometrial Ablation?
Procedure when the lining of the uterus is destroyed to stop or reduce menstrual bleeding.

What is an Endometrial Biopsy?
Procedure when a small amount of the tissue lining the uterus is removed and examined under a microscope.

What is Endometrial Cancer?
When cancer is found in the lining of the uterus.

What is Endometriosis?
When tissue that lines the uterus is found outside of the uterus. It is usually found on the fallopian tubes, ovaries, and other pelvic structures.

What is Endometrium?
This is the lining of the uterus.

What is an Episiotomy?
This is when a surgical incision is made into the perineum (the region between the vagina and the anus) to expand the vaginal opening for delivery.

What is an Estimated Due Date (EDD)?
The estimated date that a baby will be born.

What is Estrogen?
The primary female hormone that is produced in the ovaries. They stimulate the growth of the uterine lining.


What are Fallopian Tubes?
The tubes that the egg (or ovum) travel in that go from the ovary to the uterus.

What is a Fetal Growth Restriction?
When a fetus’s estimated weight is less than that of 9 out of 10 other fetuses of the same gestational age.

What is a Fetus?
The term used to describe the baby from conception to birth.

What is Fibroadenoma?
A solid, benign breast mass.

What are Fibroids?
Growths that form in the muscle of the uterus. These are typically benign.

What are Forceps?
A device that is placed around the baby’s head to help with an assisted vaginal delivery.


What is Gender Identity?
A person’s sense of themselves as a woman, a man, or other gendered.

What is General Anesthesia?
Medication used to produce a sleep-like state to prevent pain during surgery.

What is Genital Herpes?
An STI (Sexually Transmitted Infection) caused by a virus that produces painful, highly infectious sores on or around the sex organs.

What is Genitourinary Syndrome of Menopause?
Caused by decreased estrogen levels after menopause, symptoms include vaginal dryness, thinning of the lining of the vagina and urethra, and painful sexual intercourse.

What is Gestational Diabetes?
When a woman without diabetes develops the condition during pregnancy.

What is Gestational Hypertension?
High blood pressure occurring after the 20-week mark of pregnancy and is new-onset.

What is Glucose?
A sugar that is present in the blood. This is the body’s main source of fuel.

What are Gonadotropin-releasing Hormone (GnRH) Agonists?
Medical therapy used to control and block the effects of certain hormones.

What is Gonorrhea?
An STI that may cause to pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, and arthritis.


What is HELLP Syndrome?
A severe complication in pregnancy of high blood pressure.

What is Hemolysis?
This is when red blood cells are destroyed.

What is Hormone Therapy?
When estrogen and often progestin’s are taken to help relieve some of the symptoms caused by low levels of these hormones.

What is a Hormone?
A substance made by cells or organs in the body that controls the function of cells or organs.

What is Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)?
A virus that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) by attacking certain cells of the body’s immune system.

What is Human Papillomavirus (HPV)?
A virus that can cause genital warts and is linked to cervical changes and cancer of the cervix, vulva, vagina, penis, anus, mouth, and throat.

What is Hypertension?
This is the term for high blood pressure.

What is Hypothyroidism?
When there is a lack in thyroid hormone in the thyroid gland.

What is a Hysterectomy?
A procedure when the uterus is completely removed.

What is Hysterosalpingography?
A procedure using a special X-ray in which a small amount of fluid is placed into the fallopian tubes and uterus to observe abnormal changes in their size and shape or to determine whether the tubes are blocked.

What is Hysteroscopic Sterilization?
When the opening of each fallopian tube is blocked with scar tissue that is formed by the insertion of small implants, preventing sperm from entering the fallopian tubes to fertilize an egg.

What is Hysteroscopy?
Using a device called a hysteroscope, it is inserted into the uterus through the cervix to observe the inside of the uterus or perform surgery.


What is In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)?
When an egg is removed from a woman’s ovary then it is fertilized in a laboratory with a man’s sperm and finally transferred to the woman’s uterus to achieve a pregnancy.

What is Incontinence?
Uncontrolled leakage of urine, feces, or gas.

What is Inflammation?
When someone experiences pain, swelling, redness, and irritation of tissues in the body.

What is a Intrauterine device (IUD)?
A device that is small is inserted to the left inside of the uterus to prevent pregnancy.

What is Iron-Deficiency Anemia?
When the level of the body’s iron is abnormally low.


What is Kick Count?

This is when the number of times a fetus moves within a certain period is logged.

What are Kidneys?

Two organs that regulate the balance of fluid in the body, cleans the blood and removes liquid waste.


What is the Labia Majora?
The larger outer area of the external female genitalia.

What is the Labia Minora?
The smaller inner area of the external female genitalia.

What is a Laparoscope?
An instrument used to perform surgeries. The instrument is inserted into the abdominal cavity through a small incision to view internal organs.

What is a Laparoscopy?
The purpose of this procedure is to be able to view the pelvic organs, an instrument called a laparoscope (or sometimes other instruments) is inserted into the pelvic cavity through a small incision.

What does it mean to identify as a Lesbian?
When a female is sexually attracted to other females.

What are Liver Enzymes?
These are chemicals that are made by liver cells. If elevated levels are present, it may indicate liver damage.

What is Local Anesthesia?
Medication used to prevent pain in a part of the body during a procedure.

What is Lupus?
An inflammatory disorder that causes changes in the joints, skin, kidneys, lungs, heart, or brain.


What is Macrosomia?
When a fetus’s weight is estimated to be between 9 pounds and 10 pounds.

What is Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)?
By using magnetic fields and radio waves, an MRI can produce images of internal organs and structures.

What is Mammography?
An imaging technique to detect breast cancer using X-rays of the breast. The image produced is referred to as a mammogram.

What is Mastitis?
When there is an infection of the breast tissue.

What is Masturbation?
When a person performs self-stimulation of the genital that typically results in an orgasm.

What is Meconium?
A beginning stool of a fetus that builds up in the bowels of said fetus.

What is Meningitis?
When the membranes of the brain or spinal cord are inflamed.

What is Menopause?
When a woman’s ovaries stop releasing eggs and stop producing estrogen and progesterone which results in their inability to become pregnant.

What is a Menstrual Cycle?
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.

What is a Minilaparotomy?
A sterilization procedure when a small abdominal incision is made on the fallopian tubes to be closed off.

What is a Miscarriage?
When a pregnancy is lost during the first 13 weeks of pregnancy.

What is a Myomectomy?
A myomectomy is an operation to remove fibroids while preserving the uterus.


What does it mean to be Neurologic?
When a condition is related to the nervous system.

What does it mean to be Nonproliferative?
A benign breast mass containing normal cells.

What are Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs?
Medication that relieves pain by reducing inflammation; most are available to purchase over the counter.

What are Nutrients?
A nourishing substance supplied through food, such as vitamins and minerals.


What is an Obstetrician-Gynecologist (Ob-Gyn)?
A women’s physician that has special skills, training, and education.

What is an Obstetrician?
A physician who specializes in care for women during pregnancy, labor, and the postpartum period.

What is Osteoporosis?
When bones become so fragile that they break more easily.

What are Ovaries?
Located in the lower abdomen, within the female reproductive system there are a pair of organs that contain the eggs released at ovulation and produce hormones.

What is Ovulation?
The process is when an egg is released from one of the ovaries.

What is Oxygen?
A chemical element that is necessary to sustain life.

What is Oxytocin?
A medication that can be used to help cause or strengthen labor contractions. It can also be used to control post-birth bleeding and induce an abortion.


What is a Pap Test?
An examination of the cervix and vagina with the extraction of cells to observe under a microscope.

What is a Partner Notification?
This is when someone identifies and informs sexual partners that they have a sexually transmitted infection so that they can be tested.

What is a Pelvic Exam?
An examination of a woman’s reproductive organs that include the vagina, vulva, cervix, uterus, ovaries rectum and pelvis.

What is Pelvic Inflammatory Disease?
When there is an infection of the uterus, fallopian tubes, and nearby pelvic structures.

What is Perimenopause?
The period of a woman’s life that precedes menopause. This usually extends from age 45 years to 55 years.

What is a Perineal Tear?
Typically, during childbirth, a tear of the skin or other soft tissues that separate the vagina from the anus.

What is a Perineum?
The surface area between the vagina (or scrotum) and the anus.

What is Placenta?
An organ that connects the fetus to the uterus during pregnancy. It provides nourishment to and takes waste away from the fetus.

What is a Placental Abruption?
When the placenta separates from the uterine lining before the baby is born.

What are Platelets?
Disc-shaped cells that help with clumping and clotting that help the blood to clot.

What is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome?
A hormonal condition with the possibility of cysts being present on the ovaries. It is related to infertility issues because the failure to release eggs regularly.

What are Polyps?
Growths (typically non-cancerous) that develop and attach to the lining on the inside of the uterus.

What is Postmaturity Syndrome?
When a post term fetus is born with a long and lean body, a lot of scalp hair, long fingernails, and thin wrinkled skin.

What is a Postpartum Hemorrhage?
When heavy bleeding is experienced after delivery of a baby and placenta.

What is Postpartum Sterilization?
A procedure when the fallopian tubes are cut or blocked, which prevents pregnancy by blocking the egg’s path to the sperm and uterus. When done post-partum, depending on the type of delivery, it is done a few hours or days after the birth.

What is Preeclampsia?
A disorder during pregnancy or after childbirth that causes high blood pressure, swelling of appendages and protein found in the urine.

What is Prenatal Care?
The healthcare received during pregnancy.

What is considered Preterm?
Any time a baby is born before 37 weeks of pregnancy.

What is Prodrome?
Early symptoms indicating the dawning of disease or illness.

What is Progesterone?
A hormone produced in the ovaries and that prepares the lining of the uterus for pregnancy.

What is Progestin?
A manufactured form of progesterone that is similar to the hormone produced naturally by the body.

What is Proliferative breast disease without Atypia?
An excess in growth of normal looking cells.

What is Proteinuria?
Often a sign of kidney disease, this is the presence of an abnormal amount of protein in the urine.

What is Puberty?
When the reproductive organs become functional and secondary sex characteristics develop.


What is Radiation Therapy?
Treatment with high-energy radiation used to kill malignant cells, typically in cancer cases.

What is a Rectum?
The very end portion of the digestive tract.

What are Recurrent Infections?
Reoccurring infections, usually within a short time, but may also be spread out over several months.

What is Regional Anesthesia?
Medication that blocks sensation in certain areas of the body.

What is a Resectoscope?
A slender medical instrument used to destroy uterine tissue with an electrical wire loop or rollerball


What is a Screening Test?
Done to test for diseases or health conditions when symptoms are not present.

What is a Scrotum?
The external structure on a male containing the testicles.

What is Semen?
Organic fluid made up of sperm produced by the male.

What is Sexual Intercourse?
Typically, with heterosexuals that involve penetration of the vagina by the penis.

What is Sexual Orientation?
Describing someone’s sexual or emotional attraction to women, men, or both.

What are Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)?
Infections from sexual contact. STI’s include gonorrhea, HPV, herpes, chlamydia, syphilis, and HIV.

What is Sonohysterography?
This examination is when sterile fluid is inserted into the uterus using a tube.

What is a Speculum?
A device that is used to hold open the walls of the vagina.

What is Sperm?
A male-produced cell in the testes that can fertilize a female egg.

What are Spermicides?
Creams, gels, or foams that inactivate sperm.

What is Spontaneous Vaginal Delivery?
A vaginal birth without assistance from devices such as, forceps or a vacuum.

What is Sterilization?
A method of birth control that is considered permanent and irreversible.

What is Stillbirth?
Delivery of a deceased baby.

What is Syphilis?
Caused by an organism called, Treponema Pallidum, this is a sexually transmitted infection that may cause major health problems or death in its later stages.


What are Testes?
A pair of male organs that produce sperm and the male sex hormone testosterone.

What is Thrombophilia?
Occurs when blood does not clot correctly.

What is Tranexamic Acid?
Medication used to treat or prevent heavy bleeding.

What does it mean to identify as Transgender?
When someone’s gender identity is different from the sex they were assigned at birth.

What is a Transvaginal Ultrasound?
Using a device called a transducer, an ultrasound is performed that produces sound waves by bouncing off body tissue.

What is a Trimester?
Describing the divided 3-month terms in a pregnancy.


What is a Ultrasonography?
In Obstetrics, this is a test in which sound waves are used to examine a fetus.

What is an Umbilical Cord?
A flexible cord-like structure that contains blood vessels that connect the placenta to the fetus.

What are Ureters?
The duct leading from one of the kidneys to the bladder.

What is a Urethra?
A tube-like structure that urine flows from the bladder to the outside of the body.

What is a Uterine Artery Embolization (UAE)
A procedure to treat fibroids by blocking blood vessels with small particles to cut off the blood supply to the uterine body.

What is a Uterus?
Located in the female pelvic, a muscular organ that contains and nourishes a developing fetus during pregnancy.


What is a Vacuum Device?
A metal or plastic cup that is applied to the fetus’ head with suction to assist delivery.

What is a Vagina?
A flexible, elastic tube-like structure surrounded by muscles leading from the uterus to the outside of the body.

What is the Vas Deferens?
The duct carries sperm from each male testis to the prostate gland.

What is a Vasectomy?
A method of permanent male sterilization when a part of the vas deferens is removed.

What is a Vestibule?
The opening or entrance of the vaginal canal.

What is a Vulva?
The external area of female genitalia.

What is a Vulvodynia?
Unexplained, chronic vulva pain that is not caused by a skin disease or infection.


What is a Yeast Infection?
When an overgrowth of the fungus Candida happens around the vagina and vulva.

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