INTIMATE HEALTH GLOSSARY
A robust list of intimate health terms around the topics of conditions related to the vagina and/or vulva, menopause, pregnancy, sex, the anatomy, and anything else that is just good to know!
The liquid that surrounds the fetus within the amniotic sac.
The opening from the rectum (butt) from which solid waste (poop) leaves the body.
Two glands that provide lubrication (wetness) to the vagina during sexual excitement (arousal, being turned on). Located in the inner labia on each side of the opening to the vagina.
The passage from the uterus through the cervix and vagina through which a baby is born.
The secretion that comes from the divider between the uterus and vagina. The amount of cervical mucus and what it looks like changes throughout the menstrual cycle, especially around the time of ovulation. It can naturally help sperm move, or help stop sperm from moving if you’re using hormonal birth control.
The narrow, lower part of the uterus, with a small opening connecting the uterus to the vagina.
A small flap of skin formed by the inner labia that covers and protects the clitoris.
Sex organ whose only known purpose is sexual pleasure. The clitoris swells with blood during sexual excitement. The outer part of the clitoris is located at the top/front of the vulva, right next to urethra (hole you pee out of). The inner part of the clitoris, which is much larger, includes a shaft and two crura (roots or legs) of tissue that extend up to five inches into the body on both sides of the vagina to attach to the pubic bone.
A mass of cells that temporarily form on an ovary and produce progesterone following the release of an egg each month.
The lining of the uterus, which grows every month in order to nourish a fertilized egg. The lining is shed during menstruation (your period) if a fertilized egg doesn’t implant (pregnancy).
One of two narrow tubes that carry an egg from the ovary to the uterus during ovulation.
A sac in the ovary that holds a maturing egg.
On the vulva, it’s the highly sensitive tissue where the inner labia join below the glans of the clitoris.
External sex and reproductive organs, like the the vulva, penis, and scrotum.
A thin, fleshy piece of tissue that stretches across part of the opening to the vagina.
A part of the brain that controls hormones, including hormones related to sexual desire and mood.
The inner lips of the vulva.
The outer lips of the vulva.
The blood and discharge that comes out of the uterus and through the vagina during menstruation.
The time from the first day of one period to the first day of the next period. During the menstrual cycle, the lining of the uterus grows, an egg is released by the ovaries, and the uterine lining sheds.
The flow of blood, fluid, and tissue out of the uterus and through the vagina that usually lasts from 3 to 7 days. Often called a period.
The fleshy, triangular mound above the vulva that’s covered with pubic hair in adults. It cushions the pubic bone.
The muscular outer layer of the uterus.
The 2 organs that store and release eggs. Ovaries also produce hormones, including estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone.
When an ovary releases an egg.
The muscles around and near your genitals. Pelvic floor muscles can support your bladder, uterus (womb), or bowels. They help you control your poop and pee, and can also help people with vaginas have more pleasure during sex.
The perineum refers to the area between the anus and genitals, extending from either the vaginal opening to the anus or the scrotum to the anus.
The pear-shaped, reproductive organ from which people menstruate and where a pregnancy develops. Also called “womb.”
The stretchy passage that connects the vulva with the cervix and uterus. It’s where menstruation comes out of the body, a baby comes out of the body through childbirth, and/or one place sexual penetrationcan happen. During menstruation, it’s where tampons or menstrual cups are placed.
The external sex organs that include the clitoris, labia (majora and minora), opening to the vagina (introitus), opening to the urethra, and two Bartholin’s glands.
Not having a period (menstruating).
Inflammation of the vulva/vagina (vaginitis) caused by a change in the balance of vaginal bacteria. It’s not an STD. Things like douching or having sex with a new partner can lead to BV.
A type of yeast that causes vaginal yeast infections when it becomes overgrown. Yeast infections may also occur in the penis or scrotum, or the mouth/throat. When they happen in the mouth or throat, they’re called “thrush.”
A very common STD that’s caused by a bacteria and can be cured with antibiotics. If left untreated, chlamydia can cause infertility and arthritis.
Pain or discomfort during menstruation.
A condition in which endometrial tissue (the tissue that lines the uterus) grows outside the uterus, causing pain, especially before and during menstruation.
A benign tumor that grows on the walls of the uterus.
Soft, flesh-colored growths on or near the penis/vulva, caused by some types of HPV (human papilloma virus). They are usually painless, but may itch.
A bacterial STD that’s easy to treat, but if left untreated can lead to infertility, arthritis, and heart problems. Often has no symptoms.
A viral infection that can be sexually transmitted. It can lead to dangerous liver problems in some people.
A common STD in the area of the anus, cervix, penis, vagina, or vulva. Very often there are no symptoms, while the most common symptom is a cluster of blistery sores. Since it’s a virus, there is no cure, but there is treatment available.
A chronic virus that breaks down the immune system. Can lead to AIDS if not treated.
The most common STD. Some types of HPV may cause genital warts. Others may cause cancer of the anus, cervix, penis, throat, or vulva. Most of the time HPV is harmless and goes away on its own.
Surgery to remove the uterus.
An uncommon condition that creates patchy, white skin that appears thinner than normal. It usually affects the genital and anal areas. Anyone can get lichen sclerosus but postmenopausal women are at higher risk.
A virus that can be sexually transmitted, causing small, pinkish-white, waxy, round, polyp-like growths in the genital area or on the thighs.
A growth on an ovary. Usually benign (not cancerous). May cause belly pain or irregular periods, and sometimes requires treatment. Most often goes away on its own.
A very rare, chronic infection of the fallopian tubes, ovaries, vagina, or vulva resulting from systemic tuberculosis. Can cause infertility.
A hormone imbalance where the ovaries release too much androgen (a hormone). Common symptoms include missed or irregular periods, benign ovarian cysts, infertility, acne, excessive hair growth, and weight gain.
Small, usually harmless growths that are common in many parts of the body, including the uterus and cervix.
A condition in which the uterus sags or slips out of its normal position into the vagina. Caused by weakened pelvic muscles. Most common after menopause in people who have given birth.
Infections that are passed from one person to another during vaginal, anal, or oral sex, or sexual skin-to-skin contact.
A bacterial sexually transmitted infection that is easily cured with antibiotics, but can cause permanent damage if left untreated.
A yeast infection in the mouth or throat. Caused by an overgrowth of a yeast that lives naturally in the body, called candida albicans.
A rare but very dangerous overgrowth of bacteria in the vagina. Symptoms include vomiting, high fever, diarrhea, and a sunburn-type rash. A possible result of leaving an object (including tampons and birth control sponges) in the vagina for too long.
A bacterial infection of the bladder, the ureters, or the urethra. It is not sexually transmitted. The most common symptom is a frequent urge to pee and pain while peeing. Curable with antibiotics.
Thinning and irritation of the folds of the walls of the vagina. Caused by low estrogen production, which happens during perimenopause and menopause.
A type of vaginitis caused by an overgrowth of a yeast that naturally lives in the vagina/on the body, called candida albicans. Yeast infections may also occur in the penis or mouth. A yeast infection in the mouth or throat is called “thrush.”
A hormone made in the ovaries, and in much smaller amounts in the adrenal glands at the top of your kidneys, and sometimes even fat tissue. Estrogen plays a part in puberty, the menstrual cycle, and pregnancy. Many people take extra estrogen after menopause or as part of transgender care.
In menopause and postmenopause, estrogen and sometimes progestin can relieve symptoms such as hot flashes and vaginal dryness
A sudden, sometimes intense feeling of heat in the face or upper body that happens during perimenopause and menopause.
Menopause that happens as a result of ovaries being removed or damaged.
When menstruation stops because of hormonal changes. Usually happens between the ages of 45 and 55, but sometimes menopause happens earlier due to certain medical conditions.
A kind of progestin used in some hormonal contraceptives.
The period of time leading up to menopause during which some symptoms of menopause may start.
This is the name given to the period of time after a woman has not bled for an entire year (the rest of your life after going through menopause).
A prenatal test that examines the fluid that surrounds and protects the fetus. If done, it’s usually performed between 15–18 weeks of pregnancy to detect certain birth defects.
Giving birth when a doctor surgically removes the baby from the uterus. Short for cesarean section.
A prenatal test that examines the tissue that attaches a fetus to the wall of the uterus. If a doctor or nurse recommends it, CVS is usually performed between 10–12 weeks of pregnancy to detect certain genetic or biological disorders.
The on-again, off-again tightening of the uterus during childbirth, which causes intense cramping.
A series of increasingly thick rods made of plastic, metal, or natural fiber that are used to stretch open the cervix.
A person who gives emotional support during pregnancy, labor, and childbirth and for some time after.
A life-threatening pregnancy that develops outside the uterus, often in a fallopian tube.
The organism that develops from a pre-embryo during the second month of pregnancy. This stage of the pregnancy lasts about 5 weeks. Embryos then develop into fetuses.
An injection of painkillers used during childbirth.
A surgical cut into the perineum (the tissue between the bottom of the vulva and the anus) to help childbirth and reduce damage to vaginal and perineal tissue.
Develops from the embryo at 10 weeks of pregnancy and receives nourishment through the placenta.
The period of time when a fetus is developing in the womb.
Any method of assisted reproduction in which fertilization takes place outside the body (usually in a lab) in an effort to get someone pregnant.
The inability to become pregnant or to cause a pregnancy.
The process of childbirth, including everything from the contractions of the uterus and dilation of the cervix to delivery of the infant and finally the placenta.
A white or yellow colored vaginal discharge that happens during puberty, pregnancy, and other times when hormone levels are changing.
A person trained to assist in childbirth.
When an embryo or fetus dies before the 20th week of pregnancy.
Nausea and vomiting that happens during the first trimester of pregnancy.
A doctor who’s specially trained to provide care during pregnancy and childbirth.
The organ formed on the wall of the uterus that provides oxygen and other nourishment to a fetus during pregnancy, and through which waste products are eliminated from a fetus.
Depression that happens after giving birth.
A medical test that creates an image of internal organs by bouncing sound waves off the internal organs. Frequently used to find or monitor a pregnancy, but has a variety of medical uses.
Inability to have an orgasm or difficulty in having an orgasm.
Something that prevents pregnancy.
An orgasm or to have an orgasm.
A condom is a sheath-shaped barrier device used during sexual intercourse to reduce the probability of pregnancy or a sexually transmitted infection. There are both male and female condoms.
Any behavior, device, medication, or procedure used to prevent pregnancy. Also known as birth control.
Substances containing spermicide, which block sperm and prevent it from joining with an egg. These are over-the-counter, one time use barrier methods of birth control. They work best if used with a cervical cap, diaphragm, or condom.
A thin, two-inch square sheet of spermicide that’s inserted deep into the vagina, where it melts into a thick liquid that blocks the entrance to the uterus. It blocks sperm and prevents it from joining with an egg. An over-the-counter one time use barrier method of birth control.
A solid capsule containing spermicide that’s inserted deep into the vagina, and melts into a liquid to block sperm, preventing it from joining with an egg.
A thin, square piece of latex that helps prevent the spread of STDs when placed over the vulva or anus during oral sex.
A birth control device made of soft silicone and shaped like a shallow cup. The diaphragm t covers the cervix to prevent pregnancy.
A spray of water, medication, or cleanser, which goes into the vagina.
Any area of the body that’s sensitive to sensual touch, or feels sexual.
The release of fluid out of the urethra during intense sexual excitement or orgasm. The fluid comes from the Skene’s glands, which are located in the vulva near the opening of the urethra. Sometimes called “squirting.”
A polyurethane pouch that goes inside the vagina or anus for pregnancy and/or STD prevention.
An area a few inches inside the vagina that can be highly sensitive to touch when you’re aroused. The G spot is along the front wall of the vagina. Touching the G spot can lead to sexual pleasure and orgasm for some people. Also called "anterior sponge" and “urethral sponge".
Birth control methods that use hormones to prevent pregnancy. These include the implant, the hormonal IUD, the pill, the patch, the ring, and the shot.
A tiny device that’s placed in the uterus to prevent pregnancy. It’s safe, long-term, reversible, and one of the most effective birth control methods available.
Feeling of sexual desire.
A water-based, silicone-based, or oil-based product used to increase slipperiness and reduce friction during sex.
Touching one’s own body/genitals for sexual pleasure.
Emergency contraception that can be used within 120 hours (5 days) of unprotected vaginal sex to decrease the chance of pregnancy.
The O-Spot is located on the front of the vaginal wall and is part of the internal clitoris structure. Stimulation to this area increases female arousal and orgasm intensity.
The peak of sexual arousal, when all the muscles that were tightened during sexual arousal relax, usually causing a very pleasurable feeling.
A doctor who specializes in health care for the vulva, vagina, uterus, ovaries, and breasts.
The tightening and releasing of the muscles that stop urination in order to prevent and improve urinary incontinence, improve sexual sensation, and aid recovery of vaginal muscle tone after childbirth. Because they exercise internal muscles, kegels can be done anywhere, anytime.
A term commonly used to describe a Pap test, which looks for abnormal, precancerous, or cancerous growths on the cervix.
A physical exam of the vulva, vagina, cervix, uterus, and ovaries. May include a Pap or HPV test, but not always.
Emotional and physical symptoms that appear a few days before and during menstruation, including depression, fatigue, bloating, and irritability.
A hormone produced in the ovaries that helps regulate puberty, menstruation, and pregnancy.
The sound made when air is released from the vagina. Air is often pushed into the vagina during vaginal sex or penetration with tampons, fingers, or sex toys.
An absorbent reusable or disposable lining made of cotton or similar fibers that’s worn against the vulva to absorb menstrual flow.
A firm, disposable roll of absorbent cotton or other fiber that goes inside the vagina to absorb menstrual blood.
Fluid that comes from your vagina and happens throughout your menstrual cycle. Normal discharge can be thick or thin, clear, white, or yellow when it dries on your underwear. It has a mild, not unpleasant smell.
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