Menopause Glossary of Terms
Menopause: End of a woman's reproductive years. At this time, menstruation has stopped. Menopause occurs when a women has not had a menstrual period for a full year.
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."
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, cervix, and uterus. The doctor will feel for any lumps or changes. 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.
Perimenopause: The time of a woman's life when menstrual periods become irregular. Refers to the time leading up to menopause.
Phytoestrogens: Estrogen-like substances from certain plants that work like a weak form of estrogen.
Postmenopause: Refers to the time after menopause. Menopause is the time in a woman's life when menstrual periods stop permanently.
Premature menopause: Menopause that occurs before the age of 40 that may be the result of genetics, autoimmune disorders, or medical procedures like a hysterectomy.
Premature ovarian failure: A condition in which a woman's ovaries, for unknown reasons, stop producing eggs before the age of 40.