Glossary for feminine intimate hygiene














Amenorrhea - absence or abnormal cessation of the menses.

Anovulation - lack of ovulation.

Amniocentesis - transabdominal aspiration of fluid from the amniotic sac to determine if any genetic abnormalities exist. The test, typically performed during the second trimester of pregnancy, is extremely reliable and can be used to determine the baby’s sex.


Bacterial vaginosis - the most common type of vaginal infection. It is caused by a change in the balance of bacteria that normally live in the vagina. The most common symptom is smelly vaginal discharge (“fishy" smell). It is diagnosed with a whiff test.

Breast rhagades – painful fissures of the nipple and areola, usually caused by incorrect nursing.


Candidiasis - yeast infection caused by Candida, especially C. albicans.

Cervix - the narrow lower or outer end of the uterus.

Cystitis - inflammation of the urinary bladder.

Colposcopy - examination of the vagina and cervix by using a magnifying instrument designed to facilitate visual inspection.

Condylomata - warty growths, often on the genital area, caused by human papilloma virus (HPV).


DUB - dysfunctional uterine bleeding; irregular, long or heavy bleeding episodes.

Dysmenorrhea – painful menstruations.

Dyspareunia - difficult or painful sexual intercourse.

Döderlein's bacillus (or Lactobacilli) – the most frequently found inhabitants of the vaginal ecosystem in fertile women. Lactobacilli form an important part of the normal human bacterial flora commonly found in the mucosa of the mouth, gastrointestinal tract and female genitourinary tract. They produce lactic acid and other metabolites that inhibit the growth of pathogenic organisms.

Douche - device used to cleanse or dispense, through irrigation, a medical treatment inside the vagina.


Epidural - anesthesia administered during labor by injection of a local anesthetic into the peridural space of the spinal cord beneath the ligamentum flavum.

Endometriosis - a condition where cells lining the inside of the uterus (endometrial cells) grow in places other than the uterus - for instance on ovaries, tubes, bladder or bowel. This often results in severe pain and infertility.

ERT - estrogen replacement therapy.

Estradiol - natural estrogenic hormone secreted chiefly by the ovaries; decreases significantly in menopause or when ovaries are removed.

Episiotomy - a surgical enlargement of the vulval orifice for obstetrical purposes during birth.

Estrogens - group of compounds named for their importance in both menstrual and reproductive cycles. They are natural steroids secreted chiefly by the ovaries, placenta, adipose tissue, and testes. They stimulate the development of female secondary sex characteristics and promote the growth and maintenance of the female reproductive system.


Fibroid - a benign tumor especially of the uterine wall that consists of fibrous and muscular tissue.

Follicular phase - first half of the menstrual cycle, during which follicles in the ovary mature. It ends with ovulation. The main hormone controlling this stage is estradiol.

FSH - follicle stimulating hormone; hormone that controls early egg follicle growth in the ovary and produces ovarian estrogen.


Gardnerella vaginalis – bacteria that can cause bacterial vaginosis as a result of a disruption in the normal vaginal microflora.

Gestation - pregnancy.

Gynecology - the branch of medicine that deals with woman’s health, including the reproductive system and breasts.

GnRH - gonadotropin releasing hormone; a hormone that controls FSH and LH, which are involved in ovarian function.


HPV - human papilloma virus. Most HPV infections are subclinical and will cause no physical symptoms; however, in some people subclinical infections will become clinical and may cause benign papillomas, or cancers.

HRT - hormone replacement therapy.


Interstitial cystitis - chronic inflammation of the bladder that causes urinary frequency and pain.


Kegel - Vaginal crunches to heighten sensitivity, build pelvic muscle strength, help reduce urinary incontinence and wow your partner during sex.


Lactobacillus – see Döderlein's bacillus.

Leiomyoma - a benign tumor (a fibroid) consisting of smooth muscle fibers.

LH - luteinizing hormone; a hormone that controls ovulation, maturation of ovarian follicles, and ovarian progesterone production.

Libido - sexual desire.

Luteal phase - second half of the menstrual cycle, between ovulation and menstruations. In this phase the egg is available to be fertilized by sperm. The main hormone associated with this stage is progesterone.

Luteal phase deficiency - second half of the menstrual cycle is too short and/or doesn't produce enough progesterone.

Leukorrhea - thick, white or yellowish vaginal discharge resulting from inflammation or congestion of the uterine or vaginal mucous membrane.


Menorrhagia - heavy menstrual flow.

Myomectomy - surgical removal of a myoma or fibroid.

Myometrium - the muscle wall of the uterus.

Mammography (Mammogram) - An X-ray of the breast, used to detect breast cancer.

Menopause - Permanent cessation of the menstrual cycle, either naturally caused by ovarian failure or resulting from surgical removal of the ovaries.


Obstetrics - branch of medicine that involves the care of women during pregnancy, labor, childbirth and after the baby is born.

Oligomenorrhea - abnormally infrequent or scanty menstrual flow.

Oophorocystectomy - surgical removal of an ovarian cyst.

Ovulation - the phase of the menstrual cycle in which a partially mature ovum is released into the oviduct from the ovarian follicles.


Papilloma virus - see HPV.

Pap Test - a test in which cells are taken from the cervix and examined in a lab for abnormalities that could signal cancer.

Perimenstrual - just before, during and after menstruation.

Perineoplasty - surgery on the genital area at the vaginal opening.

Periovulatory - just before, during and after ovulation.

Polymenorrhea - a type of dysfunctional uterine bleeding in which periods occurs at much shorter intervals, usually less than 21 days.

Prolapse - downward movement of the uterus due to laxity and atony of the muscular and fascial structures of the pelvic floor, usually resulting from injuries of childbirth or advanced age.

Progesterone - a steroid hormone released by the corpus luteum that stimulates and regulates various functions. It is produced in the ovaries, the placenta and the adrenal glands. It helps prepare the body for conception and pregnancy and regulates the menstrual cycle. It also plays a role in sexual desire.


Rhagades – see breast rhagades.


Speculum - an instrument that’s inserted into the vagina during an gynecological visit.

Stress incontinence – urine leaking caused by an activity, such as coughing, sneezing or laughing. It is the most common type of incontinence women, especially of old age, suffer from. Women who have given birth are more likely to have stress incontinence.


Urge incontinence - involuntary loss of urine associated with a sudden strong urge to urinate, due to a bladder spasm or irritability.

Urogynecologist – a gynecologist who specializes in pelvic floor dysfunction.


Vaginismus - painful intercourse due to unconscious spasm of the muscles in the vaginal area.

Vaginitis - inflammation of the vagina that can result in discharge, itching and pain.

Vaginosis – see bacterial vaginosis.

Vaginal Yeast Infections – a type of vaginitis caused by yeast, such as Candida albicans. Imbalance in the vaginal ecosystem can lead to a yeast infection.

Vulvitis - inflammation of the vulva.

Vulvovaginitis - inflammation or infection of the vulva and vagina.

Vulvodynia - pain in the area around the opening of the vagina (vulva) for which there is no identifiable cause.


Whiff test - test for bacterial vaginosis. A drop of potassium hydroxide is mixed with some vaginal discharge. A positive test is abnormal and consists of a characteristic fishy odor.