Pelvic Health Terminology
The Language of Pelvic Health
The words are often used to discuss pelvic health:
- Dyspareunia: Pain with sexual intercourse.
- Dysuria: Painful urination.
- Estrogen: A sex hormone that serves a key role in the reproductive system of females and whose level drops after menopause.
- Fecal incontinence: Accidental leakage of stool.
- Kegel exercises or “Kegels”: A phrase often used to describe exercises to strengthen pelvic floor muscles.
- Labial hypertrophy: A condition in which the labia, or folds of skin on either side of the vaginal opening, are larger than normal.
- Lichen sclerosus: A condition causing the skin around the vagina become white, patchy and thinner than normal.
- Menopause: The time after a woman has stopped having periods. Perimenopause is the time when periods might become irregular leading up to a time when there is no bleeding at all. Menopause begins when 12 months have passed since the last period.
- Overactive bladder (OAB): Urinary urgency, usually with frequency and waking during the night to use the bathroom, and sometimes with urgent urinary incontinence. This occurs without an infection or other health problem.
- Pelvic floor: The group of muscles holding the cervix, uterus, vagina, small bowel, rectum and bladder in place.
- Pelvic irradiation: Symptoms that can affect women who have had a type of therapy called radiotherapy to treat cervical cancer.
- Pelvic organ prolapse (POP): Dropping of the pelvic organs, such as the bladder, uterus and rectum, caused by a loss of vaginal support.
- Perimenopause: The time in a woman’s life when periods may become irregular, leading up to cessation of all bleeding. Menopause refers to the phase of life after women stop having periods, beginning a year after the last one.
- Sexual dysfunction: A problem during any phase of sexual activity that prevents satisfaction from the sexual activity.
- Stress urinary incontinence (SUI): Urine leakage from physical activity such as laughing, sneezing, lifting, or exercise.
- Urinary tract infection (UTI): The abnormal growth of bacteria in the urinary tract combined with symptoms including urgency and frequency of urination. Urine may also be cloudy, bloody or have a foul odor.
- Urogynecology: An area of health care focused on conditions that affect the muscles of the bottom of the pelvis (called the pelvic floor), including pelvic organ prolapse (POP), urinary incontinence and bowel control difficulties.
- Vestibulitis: A burning or stinging pain at the opening of the vagina.
- Vulvodynia: A chronic pain in the vulva, or woman’s external genitals.