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

C

CA 125
A possible indicator of a cancerous tumor, CA 125 is a substance in the blood. When cancer is present, these levels often increase.

Calcium
The bone mineral resulting in hardness and density, calcium is important for overall health, especially in women.

Cancer
Cancer is a series of diseases involving abnormal cells dividing uncontrollably. They invade nearby tissues and can spread through the body via blood and lymphatic systems.

Candidiasis
A vaginal infection cause by the overgrowth of the fungus Candida, which is normally found in the vagina but can be increased to unhealthy levels. This is commonly referred to as a yeast infection.

Carcinogen
A carcinogen is a cancer-causing agent.

Cardiovascular Disease
Any disease of the circulatory system, including the heart and blood vessels, falls under the umbrella of cardiovascular disease.

Cerclage
Closing the cervical opening by placing a stitch, cerclage is a minor surgical procedure.

Cervical Intrapithelial Neoplasia (CIN)(BHRT)
CIN is a non-cancerous condition where a layer of abnormal cells replaces normal cells on the surface of the cervix.

Cervical Os
A small opening in the cervix, the cervical os dilates during the first stage of labor. This is what is measured in centimeters to determine how far along in labor a woman is.

Cervicitis
Defined as either acute or chronic (brief or long-lasting), cervicitis refers to cervical irritation. It can be caused by a number of organisms, present naturally or unnaturally.

Cervix
The cervix is the narrow end at the bottom of uterus, which extends into the vagina. The cervix becomes part of the birth canal during the final stages of labor by opening up fully.

Cesarean Birth
Also referred to as a cesarean section (c-section), this is when the baby and placenta are delivered through an incision made in the abdomen that goes through the uterus. It is so named, because it is believed this is how Julius Caesar was born.

Chemotherapy
Chemicals (drugs) are used to destroy cancer cells.

Chlamydia
One of the most common sexually transmitted diseases, Chlamydia can result in problems during pregnancy for infected women. Other ill effects include pelvic inflammatory disease and even infertility.

Cholesterol
Cholesterol is a lipid found in everyone’s blood. High cholesterol levels can result in a number of health problems.

Chorionic Villi
The material that makes up the placenta, chorionic villi are microscopic, fingerlike projections produced by the chorion to give maximum contact with the maternal blood.

Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS)
CVS involves testing a small sample of placental cells.

Chronic Pelvic Pain
Pain present in the pelvic area for more than three months is considered chronic. There are a number of possible causes, both gynecological and non-gynecological. Diagnosis is often difficult.

Classical (High Vertical) Incision
The classical incision is that used for cesarean delivery. It runs up and down, cutting through the upper area of the uterus in order to deliver the baby and placenta through the opening.

Climacteric
Also called perimenopause, this is the period of time that occurs before menopause. Estrogen and progesterone levels decrease. Irregular menstrual periods and transitory psychological changes also occur.

Clindamycin
Clindamycin, an antibiotic, is often used to treat vaginitis (infections of the vagina due to overgrowth of naturally occurring materials).

Clinical Trials
Clinical trials are organized studies using specific research methods. They result in data used to find better ways to prevent, detect, diagnose, and treat diseases.

Clitoris
Located near the vaginal opening, the clitoris is an organ important for female sexual arousal and excitement.

Colony-stimulating Factors
These factors are responsible for initiating blood cell production.

Colostrum
Referred to as “first milk,” colostrum is formed in the breast late in pregnancy and the first days after delivery. Colostrum is thin and yellow.

Colposcope
A colposcope is used to examine the vulva, vagina, and cervix. A special magnifying instrument, it is similar to a pair of binoculars. Colposcopes are often used when pap smear tests come back abnormal.

Colposcopy
The viewing of the cervix, vagina or vulva using a colposcope, this detailed examination is often performed if a pap smear test comes back abnormal. Routine activities can be resumed immediately following a colposcopy.

Computed Tomography
The CT (cat scan) takes images in cross-sections. Used to detect abnormalities that do not appear on a normal x-ray, the CT scan can indicate enlarged lymph nodes, often a sign of spreading cancer or infection.

Condylomas
Condylomas are the genital warts caused by HPV, the human papillomavirus. In women, they are often not noticed until a thorough pelvic exam.

Cone biopsy
See Conization

Conization
This procedure involves the removal of a cone-shaped wedge of tissue from the cervix; it is used as a diagnostic test for a number of diseases. This can be done using a laser or surgical scalpel and requires general anesthetic.

Contraception
Also called “birth control,” contraception refers to the prevention of pregnancy. It can come in many forms. Around seventy percent of men and women of reproductive age use one form or another.

Contraceptive
A contraceptive is any device, drug, or chemical agent that prevents conception. The birth control pill is the most common medicinal contraceptive, while condoms are the most common barrier contraceptive.

Contraceptive Implants
A type of birth control, contraceptive implants are soft plastic tubes placed under the skin. They release a hormone that is very effective in preventing pregnancy.

Contraction
A contraction is when the muscle tissue in the womb tightens. They occur sometimes in early pregnancy, but when they become regular, that is when labor begins.

Contraction Stress Test
This test is used to measure the fetus’ heart rate. Mild uterine contractions are induced by the doctor, and changes in the fetus’ heart rate are measured using an electronic fetal monitor.

Corpus Luteum
The corpus luteum is the remaining material from the egg follicle after ovulation occurs. It produces hormones needed to maintain the endometrium.

Cryotherapy
During this type of therapy, a probe coated with freezing agents is applied to the cervix. This is performed when abnormal cells are present on a pap smear test.

Cryosurgery
Liquid nitrogen or a cold probe is used to freeze and kill cancer cells. This is used often for men with prostate cancer, and on cervical cancer cells in women.

C-section
See “Cesarean Birth”

Culdocentesis
The space behind the uterus is called the cul-de-sac. The culdocentesis is a test used to find out if there is blood or pus is present in this area.

Cyst
A sac located on or under the skin, a cyst is often fluid-filled or semi-solid. Sometimes, a cyst can indicate the presence of cancer.

Cystectomy
This is the surgery where a cyst is removed.

Cystitis
Cystitis is an infection causing inflammation of the urinary bladder.

Cystocele
This is a condition in which the bladder begins to protrude into the vagina, caused by the supports holding the bladder becoming weakened. It often results from muscle straining after giving birth.

Cystometry
This is a measurement of the volume of the bladder, and the pressure on it, when it is full.

Cystoscopy
A scope is used to examine the inside of the bladder and urethra.

Cystourethrocele
This occurs when the bladder neck bulges into the vagina.

Cystourethrography
An x-ray test on a woman’s bladder; this test is performed by inserting a chemical and taking the x-rays as she urinates.

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