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Menopause Health Center

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Menopause Glossary of Terms

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Menstrual cycle: The monthly cycle of hormonal changes from the beginning of one menstrual period to the beginning of the next.

Menstruation: The periodic shedding of the uterine lining.

Mittelschmerz: The pelvic pain that some women experience during ovulation. (Ovulation generally occurs about midway between menstrual cycles; hence the term mittelschmerz, which comes from the German words for "middle" and "pain.")

Oocytes (ova or egg cells): The female cells of reproduction.

Oophorectomy: A surgical procedure in which one or both of the ovaries is removed.

Orgasm: Sexual climax.

Osteoporosis: A condition that is characterized by a decrease in bone mass and density, causing bones to become fragile or "thin," increasing the risk of fracture.

Ovarian cancer: An abnormal growth of tissue (tumor) that develops in a woman's ovaries.

Ovarian cyst: A sac filled with fluid or a semisolid material that forms on or within one of the ovaries, the small organs in the pelvis that make female hormones and hold egg cells.

Ovary: A small organ in the pelvis that makes female hormones and holds egg cells which, when fertilized, can develop into a baby. There are two ovaries: one located on the left side of the uterus (the hollow, pear-shaped organ where a baby grows) and one on the right.

Pap smear: A screening test for cervical cancer in which a sample of cells is taken from a woman's cervix. The test is used to detect changes in the cells of the cervix.

Parathyroid hormone: A substance made by the parathyroid gland (located in the neck) that helps the body store and use calcium.

Pelvic cavity: The space inside the pelvis that holds the reproductive organs.

Pelvic exam: An exam during which a health care provider inserts a speculum (an instrument that lets the provider see inside the vagina) and examines the vagina and cervix. The doctor will do an exam to feel for any lumps or changes in the vagina, cervix, uterus, ovaries. A Pap smear test is usually done during a pelvic exam.

Pelvic ultrasound: A test that uses sound waves to produce an electronic image of the organs of the pelvis.

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