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Terms Glossary

We provide up-to-date, clear, medically accurate information that helps you better understand your sexual health.

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

Abdominoplasty (tummy tuck)

A surgery that thins and firms the abdomen through the removal of excess skin and fat from the middle and lower abdomen.

Abortion

A medical procedure performed to end a pregnancy.

Acute bacterial prostatitis

A relatively rare form of prostatitis that develops rapidly and often occurs in conjunction with a urinary tract infection.

Adenomatous polyps (adenomas)

A precancerous colorectal polyp, or abnormal tissue growth on the lining of the colon or rectum.

Alcohol use disorder

A pattern of alcohol use in which an individual struggles to control their drinking, is preoccupied with alcohol and continues to use it even when it causes problems.

Alopecia

A disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks hair follicles, resulting in hair loss.

Alpha-blockers

A class of drugs that lower blood pressure by keeping the hormone norepinephrine from tightening the muscles in the walls of smaller arteries and veins.

Alzheimer’s disease

A neurodegenerative disease that occurs when an individual has plaques and tangles in the brain that cause dementia and other symptoms.

Amniotic fluid

The clear liquid that surrounds an unborn fetus during pregnancy.

Andropause

The male equivalent of menopause in which testosterone levels drop but don’t recover; can lead to erectile dysfunction, loss of bone density, reduced libido, insomnia, depression and infertility.

Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors

A class of drugs that relax and widen blood vessels and arteries to increase blood flow, commonly used to treat hypertension and heart failure.

Angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs)

A class of drugs that lower blood pressure and improve blood flow by blocking the chemical angiotensin, which narrows blood vessels.

Antihistamines

A class of medications used to block the action of histamines, which are chemicals in the body involved in allergic reactions.

Antioxidant

A substance that protects cells from the damage caused by free radicals created by oxidation, which play a role in inflammation and disease.

Assisted reproductive technology

Procedures that use donor or non-donor eggs and sperm to create embryos in vitro.

Autonomic nervous system (ANS)

A part of the nervous system that controls muscles of internal organs and glands.

Azoospermia

The complete absence of sperm in the fluid ejaculated during orgasm.

B

Balanitis

Inflammation of the penis that causes swelling, redness, itching and a rash.

Balanitis xerotica obliterans (BXO)

A chronic condition involving the inflammation of the penis which can lead to phimosis, or the inability to retract the foreskin, as well as the narrowing of the urethra.

Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH)

A nonmalignant enlargement of the prostate gland that occurs when the gland’s cells start to multiply and cause swelling that interferes with urine flow.

Beta-blockers

A class of drugs that blocks the action of substances, such as adrenaline, on nerve cells and causes blood vessels to relax and dilate, facilitating improved blood flow and lowered blood pressure and heart rate.

Birth control

Any form of contraception that prevents pregnancy.

Bladder stones

Hard masses of minerals in the bladder that develop when minerals in urine crystallize, which often happens when the bladder is unable to get completely emptied.

Body mass index (BMI)

A value derived from a person’s weight in kilograms divided by the square of height in meters; often used as a screening tool for weight categories that may lead to health problems.

Boric acid

A powdery substance with antifungal and antiviral properties.

Botox

Injections that consist of a botulinum toxin called onabotulinumtoxinA, which is used to temporarily prevent a muscle from moving.

Brazilian butt lift (BBL)

A surgical procedure in which fat is transferred from other parts of the body to the butt, creating a fuller, rounder appearance.

BRCA1 mutation

A genetic mutation that significantly increases an individual’s risk for breast cancer.

BRCA2 mutation

A genetic mutation that significantly increases an individual’s risk for breast cancer.

Breast augmentation

A surgical procedure in which breast implants are inserted to modify the shape, size and outline of a woman’s breast.

Breast cancer

A type of cancer that originates in the tissue of the breast and surrounding areas.

Breast density

A value determined by the ratio of dense fibrous tissue (the milk glands and supportive tissue) to the non-dense or fatty tissue in the breast; a denser breast has a higher amount of glandular and fibrous tissue compared to fatty tissue.

Breast ducts

Tiny sac-like tubes that carry milk from those glands to the nipple.

Breast lobules

The glands in the breast that produce milk.

Breast revision

A surgical procedure in which breast implants are removed and replaced.

Breast self-exam

A detection method in which an individual uses their hands and eyes to look for any obvious lumps or masses, or any general changes to the look and feel of their breasts.

C

Calcium channel blockers

A class of drugs that lower blood pressure by preventing calcium from entering the cells of the heart and arteries.

Candida albicans

The fungus responsible for most vaginal yeast infections.

Capsular contracture

A response of the immune system to foreign materials in the body in which a protective scar forms and gets thicker and harder.

Catheter-directed embolization

A procedure that uses a catheter to place tiny coils and/or a liquid substance in a blood vessel to divert blood flow away from a varicocele, which is an enlarged vein in the scrotum.

Catheterization

A process in which a tube known as a urinary catheter is inserted into the bladder through the urethra to help drain urine.

Centimorgan

A unit for measuring genetic linkage between two or more people.

Central nervous system (CNS)

The part of the nervous system consisting of the brain and the spinal cord which controls most functions of the body and mind.

Cervical cancer

A type of cancer that originates in the cells of the cervix, which is the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina; most cervical cancer is caused by various strains of a sexually transmitted infection called the human papillomavirus (HPV).

Cesarean section (C-section)

A surgery conducted on a woman’s abdomen to help deliver a baby.

Chemotherapy

A drug treatment used to shrink or kill cancer cells.

Chordee

A birth defect in which the penis is bent during an erection.

Chronic bacterial prostatitis

A rare form of prostatitis in which the prostate gets infected on a recurring basis, causing inflammation and swelling of the prostate.

Chronic nonbacterial prostatitis

A condition that causes long-term pain in the prostate, lower urinary tract or genital area, sometimes referred to as chronic pelvic pain syndrome.

Circumcision

The surgical removal of the foreskin, which covers the tip of the penis.

Clitoris

A female sex organ and erogenous zone located under the clitoral hood and above the urethra and extending internally.

Clomiphene citrate

A common fertility drug that is taken orally and stimulates the growth of an ovarian follicle containing an egg.

Cognitive behavioral therapy

A form of talk therapy in which individuals discuss their concerns with a psychotherapist or therapist over several structured sessions.

Cold knife cone biopsy

A procedure using a scalpel or laser knife to remove a cone-shaped piece of abnormal tissue from the cervix; the tissue is checked for signs of diseases including cervical cancer.

Colorectal cancer

A disease that occurs when cells in either the colon or the rectum begin to mutate and grow out of control; sometimes referred to individually as colon cancer or rectal cancer, depending on the part of the digestive system in which the cancer cells originate.

Colposcopy

A procedure in which a doctor uses a lighted magnifying instrument called a colposcope to closely examine the cervix, vagina and vulva for any abnormalities.

Complex fibroadenomas

Solid, noncancerous breast lumps resulting from an overgrowth of cells that continue to grow rapidly and are typically found in older women.

Conventional vasectomy

A procedure in which a surgeon applies a local numbing anesthetic to the scrotum and cuts and seals the vas deferens, the tubes that transport sperm cells from the epididymis during ejaculation.

Corpora cavernosa

Two tubes inside the penis that fill with blood, causing an erection during arousal.

Corpus spongiosum

A column located on the bottom side of the shaft of the penis that surrounds and protects the urethra, the tube through which urine leaves the body.

COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019)

An infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus.

Cremaster muscle

A muscle that pulls the scrotum closer to the body to keep it warm in cold temperatures.

Crohn’s disease

An inflammatory bowel disease, characterized by inflammation of the digestive tract, which can cause abdominal pain, severe diarrhea, excess gas, fatigue, weight loss and malnutrition.

Cryoablation

A procedure in which a thin, wand-like device is inserted into a fibroadenoma and a gas is released to freeze and destroy the tissue.

Cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP)

A molecule that increases the dilation of blood vessels; responsible for increasing blood flow to the penis during an erection.

D

Dartos muscle

A muscle in the scrotum that tenses to help regulate the temperature of the testicles when it is cold.

Death-grip syndrome

A condition in which the penis loses sensitivity or it becomes more difficult to orgasm due to consistent masturbation using an excessively tight grip.

Delayed/impaired ejaculation

A temporary or chronic condition in which a man requires an extended period of sexual stimulation in order to achieve an orgasm.

Delusions

A firm belief in ideas or facts that are objectively untrue.

Dementia

A set of symptoms that affects an individual’s memory, thinking and social abilities in a way that can impair their ability to carry on with normal daily life.

Depression

A mood disorder that negatively affects the way an individual feels, thinks and handles daily activities.

Diabetes

A chronic condition in which the body does not properly convert food into energy.

Digital rectal exam

A routine exam in which a physician inserts a lubricated, gloved finger into the rectum to check for abnormalities that could be a sign of cancer or other conditions.

Dihydrotestosterone (DHT)

A male hormone that plays a key role in prostate growth and development.

Dilation and curettage (D&C)

A two-step surgical procedure in which the dilation of the cervix is followed by the removal of tissue through the use of suction and surgical instruments; the procedure is used for surgical abortion as well as to treat certain uterine conditions.

Diuretics

A class of drugs, often referred to as water pills, that are designed to increase the amount of water and salt expelled from the body as urine.

Dopamine

A neurotransmitter that acts as a motivation mechanism in the brain’s reward system, regulating decision-making and impulse control.

Double (bilateral) mastectomy

A procedure in which both breasts are removed entirely, though in some cases the nipples may be spared; used as a treatment for breast cancer or as a risk-reduction strategy for women at high risk of breast cancer.

Dupuytren’s contracture

Abnormal scar tissue that impedes the ability of a finger to straighten.

Dyspareunia

A condition that causes pain before, during or after intercourse; it can be a result of physical or psychological factors.

E

Eclampsia

A dangerous pregnancy complication of severe preeclampsia that can lead to lessened alertness, episodes of staring into the middle distance and seizures.

Eczema

A common rash that causes itchy, red, flaky skin.

Embryo cryopreservation

A procedure by which an embryo is frozen and stored for a later planned pregnancy.

Endometriosis

An often painful disorder in which tissue similar to the tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus grows outside the uterus.

Endometrium

The tissue that lines the inside of a healthy uterus, or womb.

Endothelial cells

A thin layer of cells in blood vessels that produce nitric oxide.

Enema

The injection of liquid into the rectum for therapeutic, diagnostic or recreational purposes.

Epididymis

The long, coiled tube at the back of the testes that stores and carries sperm.

Epididymitis

A condition in which the epididymis, the tube located behind each testicle that stores sperm prior to ejaculation, gets inflamed due to bacteria from a sexually transmitted infection or a urinary tract infection.

Epilepsy

A disorder in which nerve cell activity in the brain is disturbed, causing seizures.

Erectile dysfunction (ED)

The consistent inability to achieve or maintain an erection.

Eyelid surgery

A surgical procedure in which the appearance of the eye region of the face is altered in an attempt to get rid of under-eye bags, drooping eyelids, excess skin, wrinkles of the lower eyelid and more.

F

Fallopian tubes

Narrow tubes that extend from each side of the womb and open near an ovary, and carry eggs from the ovary to the womb, where fertilization occurs.

Female sterilization

A surgical procedure used to permanently prevent a woman from getting pregnant; also known as female tubal ligation or occlusion.

Fibroadenomas

Solid, well-defined noncancerous breast lumps that can move easily under the skin.

Finasteride

The active ingredient in medications used to treat hair loss and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), or an enlarged prostate.

Foreskin (prepuce)

A bilayer tissue that extends from the distal one-third of the penis shaft (the third-farthest from the body) over the penis head (or glans); sometimes removed at birth or later in life for religious or cultural reasons in a procedure called circumcision.

Frontotemporal dementia

A type of dementia that occurs when there is a breakdown of nerve cells and their connections in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain, causing changes in behavior, personality, language, judgment, movement and thinking.

G

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)

A common chronic digestive disorder that causes stomach acid or acidic stomach contents to come back into the esophagus in a process known as acid reflux.

Generalized anxiety disorder

A mood disorder characterized by excessive, ongoing anxiety that impedes everyday activities.

Genital psoriasis

An autoimmune inflammation issue that results in red skin with thick, shiny scaling around the genitals.

Genital ulcer disease

A disease in which ulcerating lesions develop on the penis, scrotum, vulva, vagina, perineum or perianal skin.

Giant fibroadenomas

Solid, noncancerous breast lumps larger than 2 inches that may need to be removed to avoid pressing on other breast tissue.

Gonadotropins

A common fertility drug that is injected to stimulate an ovary directly to produce more than one egg.

Groin (inguinal) hernia

A condition in which weakness in the muscle wall above the testicles allows a portion of the intestine to bulge through, pushing its way into the scrotum.

G-spot

A female erogenous zone partly located 2 inches inside the top wall of the vaginal canal on most women, just behind the pubic bone.

Gummy bear breast implant

A breast implant filled with a silicone gel that is thicker than the gel inside traditional silicone implants, which enables it to maintain its shape even if the outer shell is broken.

Gynecology

The branch of medicine that specializes in women’s health, especially as it affects the reproductive system.

Gynecomastia

Swelling of male breast tissue due to a hormone imbalance.

H

Hallucinations

The experience of seeing, hearing or otherwise perceiving voices or images that are not there.

Heart disease

A disease resulting from a plaque buildup in vessels that supply blood to the heart.

Hematoma

An accumulation of clotted or partially clotted blood in an organ, tissue or body space, usually caused by a broken blood vessel.

Hematospermia

A benign condition in which semen is bloody.

Hematuria

A condition that can be caused by serious underlying issues in which blood is present in urine.

Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c)

An important measure of blood sugar commonly used to diagnose prediabetes and diabetes.

High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol:

Healthy cholesterol that can help stimulate testosterone production and does not increase risk of cardiovascular disease.

High-intensity focused ultrasound

A noninvasive treatment that involves focusing ultrasound energy to heat and destroy cancerous tissue.

Hirsutism

A condition in women that results in excessive growth of dark or coarse hair in a male-like pattern on the back, chest and face.

Holmium laser enucleation of the prostate

A type of laser surgery used to treat the obstruction of the flow of urine caused by benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).

Human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG)

A hormone a woman’s body produces only when she is pregnant; pregnancy tests detect this hormone to determine whether a woman is pregnant.

Human papillomavirus (HPV)

The most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States; it can cause genital warts and lead to cervical cancer.

Hydrocele

A type of swelling in the scrotum resulting from the accumulation of clear fluid in the thin tissue surrounding a testicle.

Hydrocelectomy

A procedure in which a surgeon makes a small incision in the scrotum to drain a hydrocele.

Hymenoplasty

A surgical procedure in which the hymen (the thin layer of tissue at the entrance to the vagina, which is known to “break” when a woman has sex for the first time) is repaired to mimic its original, intact state.

Hyperemesis gravidarum

A rare pregnancy complication in which the mother experiences severe and persistent nausea and vomiting that may lead to hospitalization.

Hyperpigmentation

A common and typically harmless condition in which patches of skin are darker than the surrounding skin, resulting from the over-production of a pigment called melanin.

Hyperplastic polyps/inflammatory polyps

Typically benign colorectal polyps, or abnormal tissue growth on the lining of the colon or rectum.

Hypersomnia

Excessive sleepiness during the day.

Hypertension (high blood pressure)

A condition in which the force of the blood against the artery walls is too high.

Hypoglycemia

Low blood sugar, which often causes confusion, lightheadedness, shakiness, heart palpitations and anxiety.

Hypospadias

A rare congenital condition in boys in which the opening of the urethra—the tube that carries urine from the bladder and out through the penis—is located on the underside rather than on the tip of the penis.

Hysterectomy

A surgical procedure in which the uterus is removed.

Hysterosalpingography

A procedure in which an X-ray contrast liquid is injected into the uterus so abnormalities can be seen on an X-ray.

I

Immunotherapy

A biological therapy used to treat a disease by activating or suppressing the immune system.

Impetigo

A common and highly contagious bacterial skin infection that appears as red sores and is most common among infants and children.

Incontinence

The inability to control urination or bowel movements.

Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI)

A procedure (done in conjunction with in vitro fertilization) in which a single, healthy sperm is extracted from a semen sample and directly injected into the cytoplasm of a mature egg.

Intrauterine device (IUD)

A small device inserted into the uterus to prevent pregnancy.

Intrauterine insemination (IUI)

A type of artificial insemination in which sperm that have been washed and concentrated are directly placed in the uterus during ovulation.

In vitro fertilization (IVF)

A complex series of procedures in which mature eggs are collected from the ovaries, fertilized by sperm in a lab and then implanted back into the uterus as an embryo.

Irritable male syndrome

A state of hypersensitivity, frustration, anxiety, anger and lethargy that occurs in men when testosterone levels fall naturally or due to external stress.

Isoflavones

A class of phytoestrogens, which are plant-derived compounds that are similar to the female hormone estrogen.

J

Juvenile fibroadenomas

Solid, noncancerous breast lumps that usually shrink and disappear over time and are typically found in girls between the ages of 10 and 18.

K

Kegel exercises

A strengthening exercise involving the act of squeezing the pelvic floor muscles, which are used to hold in urination midstream or hold in gas.

Ketones

Chemicals formed by the liver when there is not enough sugar or glucose to supply the body with fuel.

L

Labia

The folds of skin surrounding the opening to the vaginal canal which can swell during arousal.

Labiaplasty

A surgical procedure in which the size and/or shape of the labia majora (the larger, outer vaginal lips) or the labia minora (the smaller, inner vaginal lips) is altered.

Labor induction

A medical process that stimulates contractions of the uterus to trigger delivery in pregnant women.

Lactobacillus acidophilus

Healthy bacteria that fight off harmful bacteria in the body.

Late luteal phase dysphoric disorder (LLDD)

Phrase formerly used for the most severe form of premenstrual syndrome that interferes with a woman’s daily functioning and quality of life; often requires treatment. (Now known as premenstrual dysphoric disorder, or PMDD).

Letrozole

An oral drug commonly used to induce ovulation as a fertility treatment.

Lewy bodies

Abnormal, balloon-like clumps of protein found in the brains of people with Lewy body dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.

Lewy body dementia

A type of dementia caused by the presence of abnormal, balloon-like clumps of protein in the brain that often results in visual hallucinations, slow movement, lack of coordination, tremors and rigidity, difficulty focusing, and the tendency to act out dreams during sleep.

Leydig cells

Cells that produce testosterone and which are located in connective tissue surrounding the seminiferous tubules.

Libido

A person’s overall drive or desire for sexual activity.

Liposuction

A surgical fat removal procedure done with a suction device.

Loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP)

A surgical procedure in which a wire loop heated by electric current is used to remove cells and tissue from a woman’s lower genital tract when there are abnormal or cancerous conditions in the cervix.

Low testosterone

Abnormally low levels of the male sex hormone testosterone in the blood.

Lumpectomy

A procedure in which a surgeon removes cancerous cells and some surrounding healthy tissue from the breast but leaves the breast itself intact.

Lumpectomy or excisional biopsy

A surgery in which breast tissue is removed and sent to a lab for testing.

Luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone (LHRH)

A hormone produced by a part of the brain called the hypothalamus; it stimulates the production of testosterone.

Lycopene

An antioxidant pigment found in fruits and vegetables, particularly those with a reddish coloring, that possesses anti-inflammatory properties and helps prevent DNA damage.

Lymphedema

A condition in which lymph fluid in the fatty tissues builds up just beneath the skin, causing swelling.

M

Male hypogonadism

A condition in which the body doesn’t produce enough testosterone, which plays a key role in creating enough sperm as well as masculine growth and development during puberty.

Mammogram

An imaging procedure in which X-ray pictures are taken of the breast to screen for early signs of breast cancer.

Mammoplasty

A surgical procedure in which breast tissue and skin are removed to reshape the breasts and achieve the desired size.

Masturbation

The act of self-stimulation for sexual pleasure.

Menopause

The time in a woman’s life when she naturally stops having menstrual periods, marking the end of a woman’s reproductive years; usually starts between the ages of 40 and 58.

Metastasis

A phenomenon in which cancer has spread beyond the part of the body where it originated.

Microdermabrasion

A surgical planing technique used to renew overall skin tone and texture.

Microsurgical varicocelectomy

A procedure used to treat a varicocele in which the surgeon makes a small incision just above the scrotum, and cuts and ties the enlarged vein using sutures.

Microvascular heart disease

A heart disease that affects the walls and inner lining of tiny coronary artery blood vessels that stem from larger coronary arteries.

Mifepristone

A drug commonly used to perform medical abortions that works by blocking the action of the hormone progesterone, which prevents the “thickening” of the uterine lining that is required for an embryo to stay implanted.

Misoprostol

A drug commonly used to perform medical abortions that works by causing a contraction of the uterus, an action that expels the embryo through the vagina.

Modified radical mastectomy

A procedure used to treat breast cancer in which the entire breast, nipple and areola are removed as well as the lymph nodes under the patient’s arm.

Mons pubis

A fleshy area above the vulva that is naturally covered in pubic hair and protects the pubic bone.

Morning-after pill

A safe form of emergency contraception that women can take after having unprotected sex to prevent unwanted pregnancy.

Motivational enhancement therapy

A counseling approach in which a therapist works with the individual to help identify underlying reasons and motivations for substance abuse as well as useful strategies to refrain from it.

N

Nipple-sparing mastectomy

A procedure used to treat breast cancer in which the breast tissue is removed while the skin over the breast and the nipple are spared; an option used only when the breast tissue beneath the nipple and areola are free of cancer cells.

Nitric oxide

A colorless toxic gas formed by the oxidation of nitrogen; often used in medications to treat erectile dysfunction and other conditions because of its chemical signaling functions.

Nocturia

Excessive nighttime urination.

Non-obstructive coronary artery disease

A heart disease in which a coronary artery is obstructed by less than 50 percent.

Non-scalpel vasectomy

A minimally invasive vasectomy in which a surgeon cuts and seals the tubes that transport sperm cells during ejaculation without making an incision.

Non-seminoma tumor

A type of cancer that begins in cells that form sperm or eggs.

O

Obstructive coronary artery disease

A heart disease in which a coronary artery is obstructed by 50 percent or more.

Oligospermia

Clinically low sperm count, which amounts to fewer than 39 million sperm per ejaculation.

Orchitis

Inflammation of the testicle due to infection, often stemming from a sexually transmitted infection or untreated epididymitis.

Orgasm

A feeling of intense pleasure that happens during sexual climax.

Osteoporosis

A condition in which the body is unable to create new bone to keep up with old bone loss, leaving brittle, porous bones that are more prone to fractures.

Ovarian cyst

A fluid-filled sac that develops in or on the ovaries and is relatively common among women.

Ovarian reserve testing

A procedure that determines the number and quality of eggs in a woman’s ovaries.

Ovarian torsion

A rare but serious condition in which an ovary twists on the ligaments that support it, cutting off blood supply to the ovary and fallopian tube.

Ovaries

Two small, oval-shaped glands that produce eggs and the female sex hormones progesterone and estrogen.

Ovulation

The release of an egg from an ovary during the menstrual cycle.

Ovulation test

An over-the-counter at-home test that predicts ovulation by testing levels of luteinizing hormone that typically surge before ovulation.

Oxytocin

A hormone released by the pituitary gland that can lead to feelings of relaxation and pleasure.

P

Pandemic

An epidemic occurring worldwide or crossing several countries and affecting a large number of people.

Pap smear

A screening procedure in which cells are collected from the cervix to test for cervical cancer in women.

Paraphimosis

A condition that occurs when the foreskin of an uncircumcised male cannot be pulled back over the head of the penis, which can cause blood and fluid to become trapped around the area.

Partial colectomy

A colorectal cancer treatment in which parts of the colon that host cancer are removed as well as small amounts of normal tissue on either side of the cancer.

PDE 5 inhibitors

A class of oral medications (phosphodiesterase 5 inhibitors), including sildenafil (Viagra), tadalafil (Cialis), vardenafil (Levitra) and avanafil (Stendra), which are often used to treat erectile dysfunction.

Pelvic exam

A routine exam in which a doctor places two gloved fingers into the vagina while placing their other hand on the abdomen to feel the uterus and ovaries.

Pelvic inflammatory disease

An infection of the female reproductive system that can be caused by some sexually transmitted diseases or other unrelated infections.

Penile elongation surgery

A procedure in which a surgeon makes the existing penis more visible by cutting the ligament that connects the base of the penis to the lower pelvis.

Penile girth enhancement

A surgical procedure intended to add thickness to the penis usually by removing fatty tissue from other areas of the body and injecting it under the skin of the penis.

Penile implant

A device inserted into the penis used to treat erectile dysfunction by mimicking a natural erection.

Penile yeast infection

A fungal infection of the penis that can cause a spotty, itchy rash and, sometimes, a white discharge and burning sensation.

Penis

The male sex organ which is also involved in the excretion of urine.

Penis desensitization

A decrease in penis sensitivity.

Perceived ejaculate volume reduction (PEVR)

A reduction in the amount of semen released during ejaculation.

Perimenopause

A transitional period that leads to menopause and is marked by one full year without menstruation.

Perineoplasty

A surgical procedure in which the area between the vaginal opening and the anus is reshaped and tightened.

Peripartum depression

Depression that occurs shortly before or immediately after childbirth.

Peyronie’s disease

A noncancerous condition resulting from fibrous scar tissue that develops on the penis and causes curved, painful erections; also known as penile fibrosis.

Phimosis

The inability to retract the foreskin covering the head of the penis.

Placenta previa

A condition in which the placenta (an organ that develops in the uterus during pregnancy) partially or completely covers the openings of the mother’s cervix.

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)

A hormonal disorder that causes infrequent or prolonged menstrual periods or excess male hormone (androgen) levels; can prevent follicles from growing and maturing to release egg cells.

Polyp

An abnormal tissue growth that most commonly occurs on the lining of the colon.

Postorgasmic illness syndrome (POIS)

A condition theorized to be an autoimmune response to secretions in the prostate released during ejaculation that leads to symptoms of illness after orgasm.

Postpartum anxiety disorder

A long-term mood disorder involving persistent feelings of anxiety after childbirth.

Postpartum depression

A long-lasting, moderate to severe form of depression that occurs after childbirth.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

A mental health condition triggered by trauma or a shocking and/or dangerous event someone experiences or sees.

Preeclampsia

A dangerous pregnancy complication characterized by high blood pressure and signs of damage to another organ system, most often the liver and kidneys.

Premature ejaculation

A condition in which a man ejaculates sooner than he or his partner would like during sexual intercourse.

Premature ovarian failure

A condition in which the ovaries stop functioning normally before age 40.

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)

The most severe form of premenstrual syndrome that interferes with a woman’s daily functioning and quality of life; often requires treatment.

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)

A combination of physical and psychological symptoms that many women get due to hormonal changes about a week or two before their period.

Priapism

A rare but dangerous condition in which an erection lasts too long.

Probiotics

Live microorganisms that may provide health benefits when consumed or applied to the body.

Progesterone

A hormone that maintains the lining of the uterus when a fertilized egg implants.

Prostate

A walnut-sized gland located between the bladder and the penis that is responsible for producing seminal fluid that transports and protects semen during ejaculation.

Prostate cancer

A disease that occurs when abnormal cells form and proliferate in the tissue of the prostate, attacking healthy cells.

Prostatectomy

A surgical procedure in which the prostate is partially or completely removed in order to treat prostate cancer or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), an enlarged prostate.

Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test

A diagnostic test for prostate cancer that measures the level of the prostate-specific antigen protein in the blood.

Prostatic urethral lift

A treatment for benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH)) in which thin implants are inserted on either side of the prostate to make the urethra wider and the passing of urine easier.

Prostatitis

A condition in which the prostate gland gets swollen and inflamed.

Psoriasis

An autoimmune inflammation issue that results in red skin with thick, shiny scaling.

Pubic lice

Parasitic insects found in the pubic hair of humans that can be spread through sexual contact or contact with an infected surface.

Q

Quercetin

A plant-based pigment that possesses anti-inflammatory properties and can be found in foods such as grapes, berries, apples, broccoli and kale.

R

Radiation therapy

A cancer treatment in which high-powered energy beams such as X-rays and protons are used to kill cancer cells.

Radical mastectomy

An extensive, rarely performed surgery used to treat breast cancer in which the entire breast, underarm lymph nodes and pectoral muscles are removed.

Radical orchiectomy

A surgical procedure used to treat both early- and late-stage testicular cancer that involves removing the infected testicle and mass through a small incision in the groin.

Refractory period

The span of time after having an orgasm during which a person is not sexually responsive.

Retroperitoneal lymph node dissection

A surgery that is sometimes offered to patients with early-stage testicular cancer to lower their risk of recurrence by removing lymph nodes in the abdomen.

Rhinoplasty

A surgical procedure in which the shape of the nose is reshaped or reconstructed.

S

Saline breast implant

A breast implant filled with saline solution and made with a reinforced silicone rubber shell that is either smooth or textured.

Schizophrenia

A serious mental disorder that causes people to interpret reality abnormally, manifesting as a combination of hallucinations, delusions, and severely disordered thinking and behavior.

Scrotum

The pouch that surrounds the testicles, acting as both protection and an air conditioner to keep them cooler than overall body temperature.

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)

A class of drugs typically used to treat depression, anxiety and other disorders related to serotonin deficiencies.

Semen

Fluid emitted from the male reproductive tract that carries and protects sperm cells during ejaculation.

Semen analysis

A microscopic examination of sperm to assess sperm count, shape and movement.

Semen retention

The act of avoiding ejaculation for perceived benefits such as increased sex drive and energy levels, among others.

Seminal vesicles

Glandular pouches, one on each side of the male reproductive tract, that secrete a fluid containing sugar and protein into the ejaculatory duct.

Seminoma tumor

A type of cancer that originates in the germ cells of men.

Seroma

A buildup of clear fluid in a wound.

Serotonin

A neurotransmitter that influences mood, cognition, reward, learning, memory and other physiological processes; known to facilitate a sense of well-being and stabilize mood changes.

Sessile serrated polyps/traditional serrated adenomas

Colorectal polyps that are usually considered precancerous.

Sexually transmitted disease (STD)

An infection transmitted through sexual contact, caused by bacteria, viruses or parasites.

Sexually transmitted infection (STI)

An infection transmitted through unprotected sexual contact with someone who’s infected.

Simple fibroadenomas

Solid, noncancerous breast lumps that appear the same all over when examined under a microscope and are smooth to the touch.

Simple (total) mastectomy

A procedure in which the surgeon removes the entire breast, including the nipple, areola and skin, in order to treat breast cancer.

Skin-sparing mastectomy

A procedure used to treat breast cancer in which the breast tissue, nipple and areola are removed, but most of the skin is spared; often used in cases where the patient plans to get breast reconstruction surgery.

Smegma

Thick, white, cheesy substance that collects under the foreskin of the penis or in the vaginal area; most common in uncircumcised men due to poor hygiene.

Speculum

A medical instrument designed to be inserted into a body passage to facilitate visual inspection.

Spermatic cord

A cord by which the testicles are suspended in the scrotum.

Sperm density

The number of sperm per milliliter of semen.

Sperm motility

The ability of sperm to swim normally.

Substance abuse

An act that occurs when an individual uses drugs or alcohol in an illicit or addictive manner, or in a way the substance is not supposed to be used.

Substance use disorder

A disease in which an individual compulsively uses substances or engages in behaviors that can cause health issues and social consequences.

Surgical menopause

The immediate induction of menopause brought on by the removal of the ovaries, a woman’s primary source of estrogen.

T

Testicles (testes)

Two egg-shaped structures located in the scrotum that produce sperm and male sex hormones.

Testicular cancer

A disease that occurs when cancerous cells in the testicles proliferate and disrupt healthy cells.

Testicular torsion

A dangerous condition in which the testicle rotates and the spermatic cord that provides blood flow to the organ becomes kinked, cutting off blood supply.

Testis-sparing surgery

A surgical procedure used to remove early-stage testicular cancer or a benign testicular mass while leaving the testis intact.

Testosterone replacement therapy

A form of hormone therapy used to administer testosterone, a treatment often used when the testes don’t produce enough of the hormone.

Thulium laser enucleation of the prostate

A laser surgery used to treat the obstruction of the flow of urine caused by benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).

Tinea cruris

A fungal infection better known as jock itch.

Toxic shock syndrome

A rare, life-threatening complication of certain types of bacterial infections.

Transrectal ultrasound

A procedure used to check for abnormalities in the rectum, prostate and nearby structures in which a probe that sends out high-energy sound waves is inserted into the rectum to create a sonogram.

Transurethral electrovaporization

A procedure used to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) in which a special instrument is inserted into the urethra to heat and vaporize the prostate tissue in order to relieve pressure and improve urine flow.

Transurethral incision of the prostate

A surgery to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) in which an instrument called a resectoscope is used to cut small grooves in the bladder neck to allow urine to pass through more easily.

Transurethral resection of the prostate

A procedure used to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) in which a surgical instrument called a resectoscope is used to trim away any excess prostate tissue that is blocking the flow of urine.

Tunica albuginea

The thin, stretchy sheath of skin surrounding the corpus cavernosa, the two tubes inside the penis that fill with blood and cause an erection when a man is aroused.

Type 1 diabetes

A condition mostly detected in children in which the body does not make enough insulin due to autoimmune attacks that damage insulin-producing cells.

Type 2 diabetes

A condition most common among adults in which the body becomes unresponsive to the insulin that is produced.

U

Ulcerative colitis

An inflammatory bowel disease in which sores (ulcers) develop on the lining of the large intestine (or colon), resulting in constipation, irritation and inflammation.

Urethra

The internal tube through which urine travels out of the body from the bladder.

Urethral stenosis

A condition involving the narrowing of the urethra, which is the tube through which urine passes to leave the body.

Urinalysis

A test of the urine used to detect bacteria and blood.

Urinary stasis

A condition in which the bladder is unable to be completely emptied.

Urinary tract infection (UTI)

An infection common among both men and women resulting from a buildup of bacteria in the urinary tract; it can cause painful urination, urgency, abdominal pain and bloody urine.

Urodynamic test

A test in which the bladder is filled with a liquid via a catheter to determine how well the bladder and urethra retain and release urine; often used to assess incontinence.

Urography or intravenous pyelography

A CT scan or X-ray exam that generates images of the entire urinary system through the use of a special dye injected before the imaging.

V

Vacuum aspiration

A method of surgical abortion used during the first trimester in which the contents of the uterus are aspirated through a narrow tube.

Vacuum erection device

A cylindrical device that uses negative pressure to temporarily bring blood into the penis to treat erectile dysfunction.

Vagina

The muscular canal that connects the uterus to a woman’s external genitals.

Vaginal atrophy

A condition that typically occurs after menopause in which the vaginal walls thin, dry and become inflamed as a result of decreased estrogen levels.

Vaginal discharge

A natural secretion used by the body to get rid of any potentially harmful substances such as bacteria.

Vaginal dryness

A condition in which the vagina does not naturally lubricate, causing pain or discomfort during penetrative sexual intercourse.

Vaginal yeast infection

A fungal infection that causes irritation, discharge and intense itchiness of the vagina and the vulva.

Vaginismus

An involuntary tensing of the vagina which can make activities such as inserting a tampon, getting a pelvic exam or having penetrative vaginal sex painful.

Vaginoplasty

A surgical procedure in which separated muscles in the vagina are brought closer together by removing extra skin from the backside of the vagina; also known as vaginal rejuvenation.

Variable premature ejaculation

A condition in which a man experiences periods of premature ejaculation as well as periods of normal ejaculation.

Varicocele

An enlargement of the veins in the scrotum.

Vascular dementia

A type of dementia that occurs when there is damage to the vessels that help bring blood to the brain and often causes an individual to experience slower-than-normal thinking as well as difficulty with solving problems, focusing and organizing.

Vas deferens

The thick-walled ducts in the male reproductive system that transport sperm cells from the epididymis, where the sperm are stored before ejaculation.

Vasectomy

A simple surgery in which a doctor cuts or ties off the small tubes in the scrotum so sperm can’t leave the body; usually a birth-control measure.

Vasodilation

The widening of blood vessels.

Vulvar cancer

A relatively uncommon disease that usually forms as an itchy lump or sore on the vulva, which is the external female genital area.

W

Water vapor thermal therapy

A procedure used to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) in which a special device uses water vapor to target the prostate tissue and destroy prostate cells that are squeezing the urethra.

X

Y

Z

Zygote intrafallopian transfer (ZIFT)

An infertility treatment in which an egg fertilized in vitro, or outside the body, is placed into a woman’s fallopian tube.