Ch. 14 Medical Terminology

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The organs of reproduction and their associated structures.

External Genitalia

Reproductive organs located outside of the body cavity.

Internal Genitalia

Reproductive organs protected within the body.

Male perineum

Extends from the scrotum to the anus.

Female perineum

Extends from the vaginal orfice to the anus.

External male genitalia

The penis and the scrotum, which contain two testicles.

Internal male genitalia

Includes the remaining structures of the male reproductive system.


The saclike structure that surrounds, protects, and supports the testicles. It is suspended from the pubic arch behind the penis and lies between the thighs.


Also known as testes, are the two small, egg-shaped glands that produce sperm.

Seminiferous tubules

Sperm are formed here within each testicle.


A coiled tube at the upper part of each testicle. This tube runs down the length of the testicle then turns upward toward the body. Here it narrows to form the tube known as the vas deferens.

Spermatic cord

Extends upward from the epididymis and is attached to each testicle. Each cord contains a vas deferens plus the arteries, veins, nerves, and lymphatic vessels required by each testicle.


The male sex organ that transports the sperm into the female vagina. It is composed of three columns of erectile tissue.


During sexual stimulation, the erectile tissue fills with blood under high pressure. This causes the swelling, hardness, and stiffness.

Glans penis

Also known as the head of the penis, is the sensitive region located at the tip of the penis.


Also known as the prepuce, is a retractable double-layered fold of skin and mucous membrane that covers and protects the glands penis.

Vas deferens

Also known as ductus deferens, are the long, narrow continuations of each epididymis. These structures lead upward, eventually join the urethra.

Seminal vesicles

Glands that secrete a thick, yellow substance to nourish the sperm cells. This secretion forms 60% of the volume of semen. These glands are located at the base of the urinary bladder and open into the vas deferens as it joins the urethra.

Ejaculatory duct

Begins at the vas deferens, passes through the prostate gland, and empties into the urethra. During ejaculation, a reflex action caused by these ducts, semen passes into the urethra, which exits the body via the penis.


Whitish fluid containing sperm that is ejaculated through the urethra at the peak of male sexual excitement.


Expel suddenly.

Prostate gland

Lies under the bladder and surrounds the end of the urethra in the region where the vas deferens enteres the urethra.

Bulbourethral glands

Also known as Cowper’s glands, are located just under the prostate gland. During sexual arousal, these glands secrete a fluid known as pre-ejaculate.


This fluid helps flush out any residual urine or foreign matter in the urethra. It also lubricates the urethra for sperm to pass through. This fluid can contain sperm and is able to cause pregnancy even if ejaculation does not occur.


Passes through the penis to the outside of the body. In the male, it serves both the reproductive and urinary systems.


The process of sperm formation.


The male gametes (reproductive cells). Also known as spermatozoa, these gametes are forme din the seminiferous tubules of the testicles.


Capable of spontaneous movement.


A physician who specializes in diagnosing and treating diseases and disorders of the urinary system of females and the genitourinary system of males.


Refers to both the genital and urinary systems.


An inflammation of the glans penis that is usually caused by poor hygiene in men who have not had the foreskin removed by circumcision.


A narrowing of the opening of the foreskin so it cannot be retracted (pulled back) to expose the glans of the penis. This condition can be present at birth or become apparent during childhood.


Also known as erectile dysfunction, is the inability of the male to achieve or maintain a penile errection. A penis that is not erect is refered to as being flaccid (limp).

Peyronie’s disease

Also known as penile curvature, is a form of sexual dysfunction in which the penis is bent or curved during erection.

Premature ejaculation

A condition in which the male reaches climax too soon, usually before, or shortly after, penetration of the female.


Which is often referred to as male menopause, is marked by the decrease of the male hormone testosterone. This change is also known as ADAM (Androgen Decline in the Aging Male). It usually begins in the late 40’s and progresses very gradually over several decades.


THe absence of one or both testicle. This condition can be congenital or caused by trauma or surgery.


Also known as undescended testicle, is a developmental defect in which on eor both of the testicles fail to descend into their normal position into the scrotum.


Inflammation of the epididymis that is frequently caused by the spread of infection from the urethra or the bladder.


A fluid-filled sac in the scrotum along the spermatic cord leading from the testicles.


A painful erection that lasts 4 hours or more but is not accompained by sexual excitement. The condition can be caused by medications or by blood-related diseases such as sickle-cell anemia or leukemia.


A cyst that develops in the epididymis and is filled with a milky fluid containing sperm.

Testicular cancer

The most common cancer in the American males between the ages of 15 and 34 years. This cancer is highly treatable when diagnosed early.

Testicular pain

Also known as orchalgia, is pain in one or both testicles. This pain can be due to an injury, testicular torsion, epididymitis, or spermatocele.

Testicular torsion

A sharp pain the the scrotum caused by twisting of the vas deferens and blood vessels leading into the testicle.




Also known as orchitis, is inflammation of one or both testicles.


A knot of varicose veins in one side of the scrotum

Normal sperm count

20-120 million or more sperm per milliliter of semen.


The absence of sperm in the semen.

Low sperm count

Also known as oligospermia, is a sperm count lower than 20 million per/ml.


The presence of blood in the seminal fluid. This condition can be caused by infections of the seminal vessicles, prostatitis, urethritis, or urethral strictures.

Sperm count

Also known as sperm analysis, is the testing of freshly ejaculated semen to determine the volume plus the number, shape, size, and motility of the sperm.

Testicular self-examination

A self-help step in early detection of testicular cancer by detecting lumps, swelling, or changes in the skin of the scrotum.


The surgical removal of the foreskin of the penis. This procedure is usually performed within a few days of birth.


Also spelled as orchiectomy, is the surgical removal of one or both testicles.


The endoscopic surgery to move an undescended testicle into its normal position in the scrotum. This procedure is usually performed on infants before the age of 1 year.


The removal of a portion of an enlarged vein to relieve a variocele.


Any procedure rendering an indivdual (male or female) incapable of reproduction.


The male sterilization procedure in which a small portion of the vas deferens is surgically removed. This prevents sperm from entering the ejaculate, but does not change the volume of semen.


Also known as vasectomy reversal, is a procedure performed as an attempt to restore fertility to a vasectomized male.

Sexually transmitted diseases

Also known as venereal disease (VD), are infections that affect both male and females. These conditions are commonly spread through sexual intercourse or other genital contact.

Ophthalmia Neonatorum

This condition is a form of conjunctivitis that is caused by the bacteria responsible for chlamydia or gonorrhea.


Caused by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis, is the most commonly reported STD in the US. It is highly contagious and requires early treatment with antibiotics.

Bacterial vaginosis

A condition in women in which there is an abnormal overgrowth of certain bacteria in the vagina. This condition can cause complications during pregnancy and an increased risk of HIV infection. Symptoms sometimes include a discharge, odor, pain, itching, or burning.

Genital herpes

Caused by the herpes simplex virus type 2. Symptoms include itching or burning before the appearance of lesions (sores). This condition is highly contagious at all times, including when visible lesions are not present.

Genital warts

Caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV), are highly contagious. In the male, this virus infects the urethra. In the female, it infects the external genitalia, cervix, and vagina. It also increases the risk of cervical cancer.

Human papilloma virus

The vaccine is available to prevent the spread of this disease. It is recommended that it be administered to girls before the ages 11 and 12 or before they become sexually active.


A highly contagious condition caused by the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhea. In women this condition affects the cervix, uterus, and fallopian tubes. In men it affects the urethra by causing pain urination and an abnormal discharge. Can also affect the mouth, throat, and anus of both men and women.

Human immunodeficiency virus

(HIV) is transmitted through exposure to infected body fluids, particularly through sexual intercourse with an infected partner.


Caused by the bacterium Terponema pallidum, has many symptoms that are difficult to distinguish from other STDs. Highly contagious and is passed from person to person through direct contact with a chancre, which is a sore caused by the disease.


(Venereal Disease Research Laboratory) A blood test before the lesions of syphalis appear.


(Rapid Plasma Reagin) Another blood test for syphilis.


Also known as trich, is an infection caused by the protozoan parasite Trichomonas vaginalis. One of the most common symptoms in infected women is a thin frothy, yellow-green, foul-smelling vaginal discharge. Infected men often do not have symptoms, however when symptoms are present, they include painful urination or a clear discharge from the penis.

Mons Pubis

A rounded, fleshy prominence located over the pubic symphosis. The external female genitalia are located posterior to here.


The external female genitalia, or the pudendum. Consists of the labia, clitoris, Bartholin’s glands, and vaginal orifice.

Labia majora and Labia minora

The vaginal lips that protect the other external genitalia and the urethral meatus.

Urethral meatus

The external opening of the urethra.


An organ of sensitive, erectile tissue located anterior to the urethral meatus and the vaginal orifice.

Bartholin’s glands

Produce a mucus secretion to lubricate the vagina. These two small, round glands are located on either side of the vaginal orifice.

Vaginal orifice

The exterior opening of the vagina.




A mucous membrane that partially covers the vaginal orifice before a woman has had intercourse. However, this tissue can be absent in a woman who has not been sexually active.

Mammary glands

Also known as the lactiferous glands, are the milk producing glands that develop during puberty.

Lactiferous ducts

Also known as milk ducts, carry milk from the mammary glands to the nipple.


Breast milk flows through here.


The dark-pigmented area that surrounds the nipple.


A pair of small, almond-shaped organs located in the lower abdomen, one on either side of the uterus.


A fluid-filled sac containing a single ovum (egg). There are thousands of these sacs on the inside surface of the ovaries.


Also known as eggs, are the female gametes. These immature ova are present at birth. Normally after puberty, one ovum matures and is released each month.

Fallopian tubes

Also known as uterine tubes. These tubes extend from the upper end of the uterus to a point near, but not attached to, an ovary.


The funnel-shaped opening into the fallopian tube near the ovary.


The fringed, finger-like extensions of the infundibulum. Their role is to catch the mature ovum when it leaves the ovary.


Formerly known as the womb, is a pear shaped organ iwth muscular walls and a mucous membrane lining filled with a rich supply of blood vessels. Located between the urinary bladder and the rectum and midway between the sacrum and the pubic bone.


The normal position of the uterus: the body of the uterus is bent forward.


The bulging, rounded part above the entrance of the fallopian tubes.


Also known as the body of the uterus, is the middle portion.


Also known as the cervix uteri, is the lower, narrow portion that extends into the vagina.


The tough, membranous outer layer of the uterus.


Pertaining to a thin layer of tissue.


Is the muscular middle layer of the uterus.


Which is the inner layer of the uterus, consists of specialized epithelial mucosa that is rich in blood vessels.


Referring to the mucus membrane.


The muscular tube lined with mucosa that extends from the cervix to the outside of the body.


Also known as menses, is the normal periodic discharge of the endometrial lining and unfertilized egg from the uterus.


The beginning of the menstrual function.

Menstrual cycle

The average cycle consists of 28 days. These days are grouped into four phases.

Menstural phase

These are the days when the endometrial lining of the uterus is sloughed off and discharged through the vagina as the menstrual flow.

Postmenstrual phase

After the menstural period, the pituitary gland secretes follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), causing an ovum to mature. Estrogen, which is secreted by the ovaries, stimulates the lining of the uterus to prepare itself to recieve a zygote (fertilized egg)

Ovulatory phase

On, or about, the 13th or 14th day of the cycle ovulation occurs. Ovulation is the release of a mature ovum. The mature egg leaves the ovary and travels slowly down the fallopian tube toward the uterus. During this time the female is fertile and can become pregnant.

Premenstrual phase

If fertilization does not occur, hormone levels change to cause the breakdown of the uterine endometrium and the beginning of a new menstrual cycle.


The normal termination of the mestural function. Considered to be confirmed when a woman has gone 1 year without having a period.


The term used to designate the transition phase between regular menstrual periods and no periods at all. During this phase, which can last as long as 10 years, changes in hormone production can cuase symptoms including irregular menstrual cycles, hot flashes, mood swings, and disturbed sleep


A physician who specializes in diagnosing and treating diseases and disorders of the female reproductive system.


A physician who specializes in providing medical care to women during pregnancy, childbirth, and immediately thereafter. This specialty is referred to as obstetrics.


A physician who in diagnosing and treating disorders of the newborn.


A physician who specializes in diagnosing, treating, and preventing disorders and diseases of children. This specialty is known as pediatrics.


The absence of ovulation when it would be normally present. This condition can be caused by stress, inadequate nutrition, or hormonal imbalances. Menstration can continue, although ovualtion doesnt occur.


Inflammation of an ovary. Frequently occurs when salpingitis or pelvic inflammatory disease are present.

Ovarian cancer

Originates within the cells of the ovaries. These cancer cells can break away from the ovary and spread (metastasize) to other tissues and organs within the abdomen or travel through the blood stream to other parts of the body.


The rupture of an ovary.

Pelvic inflammatory disease

An inflammation of the female reproductive organs that is not associated with surgery or pregnancy. This condition occurs most frequently as a complication of a STD and can lead to infertility, ectopic pregnancy, and other serious disorders.

Polycystic ovary syndrome

Also known as Stein-Leventhal syndrome, is a condition caused by a hormonal imbalance in which the ovaries are enlarged by the presence of many cysts formed by incompletely developed follicles.


An accumulation of pus within the fallopian tubes.


An inflammation of a fallopian tube.


A condition in which patches of endometrial tissue escape the uterus and become attached to other structures in the pelvic cavity. It is a leading cause of infertility.


An abnormal discharge, such as mucus or pus, from the uterus.

Uterine cancer

Involves cancerous growth on the lining of the uterus. One of the earliest symptoms of this cancer frequently occurs after menopause is bleeding from the uterus.

Uterine fibroid

Also known as a myoma, is a benign tumor composed of muscle and fibrous tissue that occurs in the wall of the uterus.

Uterine prolapse

Also known as a pelvic floor hernia, is the condition in which the uterus slides from its normal postiion in the pelvic cavity and sags into the vagina.


The falling or dropping down of an organ or internal part.

Cervical cancer

The second-most common cancer in women and usually affects women between the ages of 45 and 65 years. It can be detected early through routine Pap tests.

Cervical dysplasia

Also known as precancerous lesions, is the growth of abnormal cells in the cervix, which can be detected by a Pap smear. Without early detection and treatment, these cells can become malignant.


An inflammation of the cervix that is usually caused by an infection.


An inflammation of the mucous membrane lining of the cervix.


Tearing or laceration of the vaginal wall.


A profuse, whitish mucus discharge from the uterus and vagina. Women normally have a vaginal discharge; however, this describes a change and increase in this discharge that can be due to an infection, malignancy, or hormonal changes.

Vaginal candidiasis

Also known as vaginal thrush, or a yeast infection, is a vaginal infection caused by the yeast-like fungus Candida Albicans. Symptoms include burning, itching, and a "cottage-cheese" like vaginal discharge.


Also known as colpitis, is an inflammation of the lining of the vagina. Most common causes of this inflammation are bacterial vaginosis, trichomoniasis, and vaginal candidiasis.

Pruritus vulvae

A condition of severe itching of the external female genitalia.


A syndrome of unknown cause that is characterized by chronic burning, pain during sexual intercourse, itching, or stinging irritation of the vulva.


An inflammation of the vulva. Possible causes include fungal and bacterial infections, chafing, skin conditions, or allergies to products such as soaps and bubble baths.


A round, firm, rubbery mass that arises from excess growth of glandular and connective tissue in the breast. These masses, which can grow to the size of a small plum, are benign and usually painless. Often enlarge during pregnancy and shrink during menopause.

Fibrocystic breast disease

The presence o fsingle or multiple benign cysts in the breast. This condition occurs more frequently in older women.


The production of breast milk in a women who is not breastfeeding. This condition is caused by a malfunction of the thyroid or pituitary gland.


Also known as mastodynia, is pain in the breast.


A breast infection that is most frequently caused by bacteria that enter the breast tissue during breast feeding.


An abnormal absence of menstrual periods for 3 or more months. This condition is normal only before puberty, during pregnancy, while breastfeeding, and after menopause.


Pain caused by uterine cramps during a menstrual period.This pain occurs in the lower abdomen, can be sharp, intermittent, dull, or aching.


Also known as menorrhagia, is an excessive amount of menstrual flow over a period of more than 7 days.


An unusually small amount of menstrual flow during a shortened regular menstrual period.


Also known as intermenstrual bleeding, is excessive uterine bleeding at both the usually time of menstrual periods and at other irregular intervals.


The term used to describe infrequent or very light menstration in a women with previously normal periods.


The occurence of menstrual cycles more frequently than is normal.

Premature menopause

A condition in which the ovaries cease functioning before age 40 years due to disease, a hormonal disorder, or surgical removal. This causes infertility and often bringing on menopausal symptoms.

Premenstrual Syndrome

(PMS) is a group of symptoms experiance by some women within the 2-week period before menstruation. These symptoms can include bloating, swelling, headaches, mood swings, and breast discomfort.

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder

(PMDD) is a condition associated with severe emotional and physical problems that are closely linked to the menstrual cycle. Symptoms occur regularly in the second half of the cycle and end when menstration begins or shortly after.


The direct visual examination of the tissues of the cervix and vagina. This examination is performed using a binocular magnifier known as a colposcope.

Endometrial biopsy

A small amount of the tissue from the lining of the uterus is removed for microscopic examination. This test is most often used to determine the cause of abnormal vaginal bleeding.

Endovaginal ultrasound

Performed to determine the cause of abnormal vaginal bleeding. This test is performed by placing and ultrasound transducer in the vagina so that the sound waves can create images of the uterus and ovaries.


A radiographic examination of the uterus and fallopian tubes. Requires installation of radiopaque contrast material into the uterine cavity and fallopian tubes to make them visible.


Slowly pouring a liquid onto a body part or into a body cavity.


The direct visual examination of the interior of the uterus and fallopian tubes. Performed by using magnification of a hysteroscope.

Papanicolaou test

Also known as a Pap smear, is an exfoliative biopsy for the detection of conditions that can be early indicators of cervical cancer.


A measure taken, or a device used, to lessen the likelihood of conception and pregnancy.

Birth control pills

A form of hormones that are administered as a contraceptive.

Intrauterine device

A molded plastic contraceptive inserted through the cervix into the uterus.

Hormone replacement therapy

The use of the female hormones estrogen and progestin to replace those the body no longer produces during and after perimenopause.


A synthetic form of the female hormone progesterone.


Also known as an oophorectomy, is the surgical removal of one or both ovaries.

Surgical menopause

If both ovaries are removed in a premenopausal woman, the patient experiances this.


The surgical removal of one or both fallopian tubes.


The surgical removal of a fallopian tube and ovary.

Bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy

The removal of both the fallopian tubes and ovaries.

Tubal ligation

A surgical sterilization procedure in which the fallopian tubes are sealed or cut to prevent sperm from reaching a mature ovum.


Also known as vaginofixation, is the surgical fixation of a prolapsed vagina to a surrounding structure such as the abdominal wall.


Also known as a cone biopsy, is the surgical removal of a cone-shaped specimen of tissue from the cervix. This is performed as a diagnostic procedure or to remove abnormal tissue.


The surgical suturing of a tear in the vagina.

Dilation and Curettage

Commonly known as a D & C, is a surgical procedure in which the cervix is dilated and the endometrium of the uterus is scraped away. This can be performed as a diagnostic or a treatment procedure.


The expansion of an opening.


The removal of material from the surface by scraping with an instrument known as a curette.


The surgical removal of uterine fibroids.


The surgical removal of the uterus. The procedure is further described depending upon the structures that are removed.

Total hysterectomy

Also known as a complete hysterectomy, the uterus and cervix are removed. This procedure can be performed through the vagina or laparoscopically through the abdomen.

Partial or Subtotal hysterectomy

The uterus is removed and the cervix is left in place.

Radical hysterectomy

Also known as bilateral hysterosalpingo-oophorectomy, is most commonly performed to treat uterine cancer. This procedure includes the surgical removal of the ovaries and fallopian tubes, the uterus and cervix, plus nearby lymph nodes.


Also spelled mammaplasty, is a general term for a cosmetic operation on the breast.

Breast augmentation

Mammoplasty performed to increase breast size.


Means the process of adding to make larger.

Breast reduction

Mammoplasty performed to decrease and reshape excessivly large, heavy breast.


Mammoplasty to affix sagging breast in a more elevated position.


The release of a mature egg from a follicle on the surface of the ovary.

Corpus luteum

Secretes the hormone progesterone during the second half of the menstrual cycle. This maintains the growth of the uterin lining in preperation for the fertilized egg.


Also known as copulation or sexual intercourse, the male ejaculates approximatly 100 million sperm into the female’s vagina. The sperm travel upward through the vagina, into the uterus, and on into the fallopian tubes.


Occurs when a sperm penetrates and fertilizes the descending ovum. This union, which is the beginning of a new life, forms a single cell known as a zygote.


The embedding of zygote into the lining of the uterus.


From implantation through the 8th week of pregnancy, the developing child is known as this.


From the 9th week of pregnancy to the time of birth, the developing child in utero is known as this.

Fraternal twins

Results from the fertilization of seperate ova by seperate sperm cells. These develop into two seperate embryos.

Identical twins

Formed by the fertilzation of a single egg cell by a single sperm that divides to form two embyros. Each of these twins recieves exactly the same genetic information from the parents.


Used to describe a birth involving more than two infants.


The thin outer membrane that encloses the embryo. It contributes to the formation of the placenta.


A temporary organ that forms within the uterus to allow the exchange of nutrients, oxygen, and waste products between the mother and fetus without allowing maternal blood and fetal blood to mix. Also produces hormones necessary to maintain the pregnacy.

Amniotic sac

Also known as the amnion, is the innermost membrane that surrounds the embryo in the uterus. The common name for this structure is the bag of waters.

Amniotic cavity

The fluid-filled space between the embryo and the amniotic sac. The developing embryo is surrounding by this.

Amnionic fluid

Also known as amniotic fluid, is the liquid that protects the fetus and makes possible its floating movements.

Umbilical cord

The tube that carries blood, oxygen, and nutrients from the placenta to the developing child. It also transports waste from the fetus to be disposed of through the mothers excretory system


Also known as the belly button, is formed where the umbilical cord was attached to the fetus.


Lasts approximatly 280 days, is the period of developement of the child in the mothers uterus. Upon completion of this developmental time, the fetus is described as being at term and should be ready for birth.


Often used interchangebly with gestation, means the condition of having a developing child in the uterus.


About 13 weeks each.


The first movement of the fetus in the uterus that can be felt by the mother. Usually occurs during the 16th to 20th week of pregnancy.

Braxton Hicks contractions

Intermittent painless uterine contractions that occur with increasing frequency as the pregnancy progresses. These contractions are not true labor pains and are usually infrequent, irregular, and essentially painless.


The fetus reaches this point when it is capable of living outside the uterus. Depends on the developmental age, birth weight, and developmental stage of the lungs of the fetus.


Refers to the final stage of pregnancy just before the onset of labor.


A woman who has never been pregnant.


A woman who has never borne a viable child.


A woman during her first pregnancy.


A woman who has borne one viable child.


A woman who has given birth two or more times.

Labor and Delivery

Also known as childbirth or parturition occurs in three stages. These are dilation, delivery of the baby, and expulsion of the afterbirth.


The process by which the cervix prepares for delivery as it gradually softens, shortens, and becomes thinner.

Fetal monitoring

The use of an electronic device to record the fetal heart rate and the maternal uterine contractions during labor.


Describes when the head can be seen at the vaginal opening.


After childbirth.


The time from delivery of the placenta through approximatly the first 6 weeks after the delivery. By the end of this period most of the changes in the mothers body due to pregnancy have been resolved, and the body has reverted to the nonpregnant state.


The postpartum vaginal discharge that typically continues for 4-6 weeks after childbirth. Consists of blood, mucus, and placental tissue.

Uterine involution

The return of the uterus to its normal size and former condition after delivery


The return of an enlarged organ to its normal size.


A specialized form of milk that delivers essential nutrients and antibodies in a form that the newborn can digest. Produced by the mammary glands in late pregnancy and during the first few days after giving birth.


The process of forming and secreting milk from the breasts as nourishment for the infant. The breast milk develops a few days after giving birth to replace to colostrum.

Postpartum depression

A mood disorder characterized by feelings of sadness and the loss of pleasure in normal activities that can occur shortly after giving birth. One cause of this depression is the rapid change in hormone levels that occurs after giving birth. When the depression is severe, treatment is required.


The newborn infant is known as this during the first 4 weeks after birth.


A greasy substance that protects the fetus in utero and can still be present at birth.


The greenish material that collects in the intestine of a fetus and forms the first stools of a newborn.

Apgar score

A scale of 1-10 to evaluate a newborn infants physical status at 1 and 5 minutes after birth.


The interruption or termination of pregnancy before the fetus is viable.


Also known as a spontaneous abortion usually occurs early in the pregnancy and is due to an abnormallity or genetic disorder.

Induced abortion

Caused by human intervention, is achieved through the use of drugs or suctioning. When done for medical purposes it is also known as a therapeutic abortion.

Ectopic pregnancy

Also known as extrauterine pregnancy, is a potentially dangerous condition in which a fertilized egg is implanted and begins to develope outside the uterus.


Out of place.


Also known as pregnancy-induced hypertension or toxemia, is a complication of pregnancy characterized by hypertension (high blood pressure), edema (swelling) and proteinuria (an abnormally high level of protein in the urine)


A more serious form of preeclampsia. Characterized by convulsions and somtimes coma. Treatment for this condition is devlivery of the fetus.

Abruptio placentae

An abnormal disorder in which the placenta seperates from the uterine wall before the birth of the fetus.

Breech position

One in which the buttocks or feet of the fetus are positioned to enter the birth canal first intstead of the head.

Placenta previa

The abnormal implantation of the placenta in the lower portion of the uterus. Symptoms include painless, sudden-onset bleeding during the third trimester.


Appearing before or in front of.

Premature infant

Also known as a preemie, is a fetus born before the 37th week of gestation.


The birth of a fetus that died before, or during, the delivery.

Pregnancy test

Performed to detect and unusually high level of the human chorionic gonadotropin hormon in either a blood or urine specimen, which is usually an indicator of pregnancy.

First trimester screening

Also known as combined screening is performed between 11 and 13 weeks of pregnancy and involves an ultrasound and a finger stick blood test. The combined results of these two measurements, plus the mothers age, detect most of the fetuses at risk for Down syndrome.

Chorionic villus sampling

The examination of cells retrieved from the chorionc villi, which are minute, vascular projections on the chorion. This test is performed between the 8th and 10th weeks of pregnancy to search for genetic abnormalities in the developing fetus.


A surgical puncture with a needle to obtain a specimen of amniotic fluid. This specimen, which is obtained after the 14th week of pregnancy, is used to evaluate fetal health and to diagnose certain congenital disorders


A radiographic study to measure teh dimensions of the pelvis to evaluate its capacity to allow passage of the fetus through the birth canal.

Cesarean section

Also known as a C-section, is the delivery of the child through an dincision in the maternal abdominal and uterine walls. This is usually performed when a vaginal birth would be unsafe for either the mother or baby.


Vaginal Birth After a Cesarean


A surgical incision made through the perineum to enlarge the vaginal orifice to prevent tearing of the tissues as the infant moves out of the birth canal.


The surgical suturing to repair an episiotomy


The inability of a couple to achieve pregnacy after 1 year of regular, unprotected intercourse, or the inability of a woman to carry a pregnacy to a live birth.

Infertility specialist

Also known as a fertility specialist, who diagnosis and treats problems associated with conception and maintaining pregnancy.

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