OBGYN Glossary

The following are a list of terms that may be used during the course of your OB/GYN care.

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

A

Abnormal Uterine Bleeding
This is defined by changes in the period’s regularity or volume, usually by anatomic or hormonal factors, or possibly endometrial pathology, which should be tested for.

Acyclovir
Acyclovir is a drug that reduces symptoms during the first outbreak of herpes. It can prevent or shorten the duration of recurrences of symptoms in later outbreaks.

Adenocarcinoma
Adenocarcinoma is the most commonly occurring uterine cancer. Three out of four women diagnosed with the disease of the endometrium are in Stage 1. Nine out of ten women have a five-year survival rate if diagnosed at Stage 1.

Adenomyosis
Adenomyosis causes uterine lining-like tissue to actually grow inside the wall of the uterus.

Adhesion
Occurring in abdominal or uterine tissue, adhesion is scarring that binds together affected surfaces.

Afterpains
Usually lasting two-to-three days, afterpains are caused by contractions of the womb postpartum. The pains are often exacerbated by breastfeeding.

AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome)
Caused by the human immune deficiency virus (HIV), AIDS’ signs and symptoms often include severe infections.

Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP)
Present in amniotic fluid and in the mother’s blood, AFP is a protein produced by a growing fetus. Testing this from the fluid or mother’s blood can help to find our if the baby has neural tube birth defects

Amenorrhea
This is the cessation of menstruation. It falls into two categories:

  • Primary – menstruation does not begin at puberty
  • Secondary – a previously menstruating woman’s normal and regular periods are interrupted or ceased altogether by some physical cause; sometimes hypothyroidism, sometimes the increased presence of lactation hormones

Amniocentesis
Amniotic fluid is taken from the sac around the fetus in order to perform tests for birth defects.

Amniotic Fluid
Amniotic fluid is the water surrounding the fetus, contained in the amniotic sac in the woman’s uterus.

Amniotic Sac
This is where the fetus develops: a sac, filled with fluid, in the mother’s uterus, containing the baby, placenta and amniotic fluid.

Analgesia
Forms of treatment that result in the relief of pain without affecting normal sensation.

Androgen
Androgen refers to steroid hormones that promote male characteristics; these can be produced either by the adrenal gland or by the ovaries.

Anemia
Usually caused by too little iron in the diet, anemia means that the number of red blood cells is too low. This is common in pregnancy.

Anesthesia
Anesthesia refers to treatments that result in the relief of pain by loss of sensation.

Anesthesiologist
A doctor specializing in pain relief, an anesthesiologist is often present during surgery and other medical procedures.

Anorexia Nervosa
Anorexia is an eating disorder through which excessive dieting results from excessive dieting.

Anovulation
Anovulation refers to the failure of normal ovulation.

Antibiotics
Antibiotics are drugs that are used to kill bacteria and other microorganisms.

Antibody
Antibodies are produced in reaction to foreign substances; proteins in the blood, they fight the bacteria that cause infections.

Areola
The areola is the colored ring surrounding the breast’s nipple.

Arteries
Arteries are the large blood vessels that carry the blood away from the heart. They serve the head, torso, arms, and legs.

Arterioles
These are arteries that can change in size. Changes in size can lower or increase blood pressure.

Aspiration Biopsy
This is a procedure using a needle to withdraw fluid or tissue from a cyst; this tissue is then studied to determine whether or not the tissue is malignant or benign.

Atherosclerosis
This is the medical term for “hardening of the arteries”; it occurs when arteries are clogged and narrowed by a build of vessel wall-deposited plaque.

Auscultation
Auscultation is the method, using a special stethoscope or ultrasound device, of listening to the heartbeat during labor.

Autoinoculation
Autoinoculation involves transferring germs from one part of the body to another to prevent infection or lessen symptoms.

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