alaska women's health

Glossary of Terms

awh glossary

Common Terms Used Withing Our Website

Cervix: The lower, narrow end of the uterus which attaches the uterus to the vagina.

Cystocele: The bladder sags into the vagina due to weak or torn pelvic floor muscles.

Enterocele: The small intestine bulges into the vagina.

Endometriosis: A condition in which endometrial tissue (the lining of the uterus) grows outside of the uterus. Endometriosis can adhere to the ovaries, the fallopian tubes, and other pelvic organs. Endometriosis can cause extensive pelvic pain.

Endometrium: The tissue that lines the uterus and is shed each month during menstruation.

Estrogen: A female hormone produced in the ovaries that stimulates the growth of the lining of the uterus (the endometrium) in preparation for pregnancy.

Fallopian Tubes: Tubes through which an egg (ovum) travels from a woman’s ovary to her uterus during ovulation.

Menopause: The process in a woman’s life when her ovaries stop functioning and menstruation stops.

Menstruation: Menstruation is a woman’s monthly bleeding (also called a period or menses). When you menstruate, your body is shedding the lining (endometrium) of the uterus (womb). Menstrual blood flows from the uterus through the small opening in the cervix (the bottom portion of the uterus), and passes out of the body through the vagina (the birth canal). Most menstrual periods last from three to five days.

Mixed Incontinence: This is when women have symptoms of both stress and urge incontinence.

Overflow Incontinence: This is when the bladder fails to completely empty upon urination. It may be caused by dysfunctional nerves or a blockage in the urethra that prevents the flow of urine.

Ovaries: Two glands (located on either side of a woman’s uterus) that contain the eggs (ova) released at ovulation and that produce female hormones.

Pap Smear (Pap Test): A test in which cells are swabbed from a woman’s cervix and vagina and examined under a microscope.

Pelvic Exam: A manual internal and external examination of a woman’s reproductive organs.

 Pessary: A plastic device that is placed in the vagina to help support the bladder, vagina, uterus, or rectum.

Progesterone: A female hormone produced in the ovaries that makes the lining of the uterus grow in preparation for pregnancy. When progesterone decreases, the lining releases from the uterus and menstruation occurs.

Rectocele: The rectum bulges into the vagina. Sterilization: An operation or procedure that renders a woman unable to become pregnant or a man unable to father a child. Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI): Urine leakage caused by weak or torn pelvic floor muscles. Urine leakage can happen when lifting something heavy, exercising, coughing, sneezing, laughing, or getting up from a bed or chair. Urethra: The tube that carries urine from your bladder to outside your body.

Urge Incontinence: The sudden, intense urge to urinate, followed by a loss of urine before you can reach the bathroom. You may feel that you can never reach the bathroom fast enough and you may wake several times a night with the strong urge to urinate.

Uterus (womb): The muscular organ in a female’s pelvis that contains and nourishes the developing fetus during a pregnancy.

Uterine Prolapse: The uterus sags into the vagina. The uterus may fall as far as the opening of the vagina.

Vaginal Vault Prolapse: The walls of the vagina fall in on themselves.