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Sex Glossary


Herpes: A virus spread by close personal contact, such as kissing or sexual intercourse. There are two types of herpes. The first type is herpes simplex type 1 (or HSV-1). HSV-1 occurs most often on or near the mouth and appears as a blister or cold sore. The second type, herpes simplex type 2 (or HSV-2), occurs most often on or near the sex organs and is sometimes called "genital herpes."

Heterosexual: A person who is attracted to individuals of the opposite gender.

HIV test: A test to look for signs of HIV in the blood.

Homosexual: A person who is attracted to individuals of the same gender.

Hormones: Chemicals that stimulate or regulate the activity of cells or organs.

Hormone therapy: Also known as hormone replacement therapy (HRT). The use of hormones, usually estrogen and progesterone, as a therapy, often used to treat the discomforts of menopause or to replace hormones (especially estrogen) lost after menopause.

Human papillomavirus (HPV): A group of more than 100 types of viruses some of which can cause warts (papillomas).

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV): The virus that causes AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome). HIV weakens a person's ability to fight infections and cancer. People with HIV are said to have AIDS when the virus makes them very sick and they develop certain infections or cancers. A person gets HIV when an infected person's body fluids (blood, semen, fluids from the vagina or breast milk) enter his or her bloodstream. The virus can enter the blood through linings in the mouth, anus, or sex organs (the penis and vagina), or through broken skin.

Hypogonadism: Impaired function of the ovaries in women and the testes in men leading to hormonal imbalances.

Hysterectomy: The surgical removal of the uterus.

Immune system: The body's natural defense system against infection or disease; a system of cells that protects the body from bacteria, viruses, toxins, and other foreign substances.

Impotence (erectile dysfunction): The inability to attain and/or maintain an erection suitable for intercourse.

Incontinence: Loss of bladder and/or bowel control.

Infibulation: This procedure involves performing a clitorectomy, including the removal of the labia. The tissues are then sewn together, leaving only a small hole for the flow of urine and menstrual blood. In many cases, a second procedure is necessary later to allow for sexual intercourse.

Inhibited or retarded ejaculation: When ejaculation is slow to occur.

Inhibited sexual desire (reduced libido): A decrease in desire for or interest in sexual activity.

In situ: "In its proper place." Usually refers to cancer. 

Intrauterine device (IUD): A small, plastic, flexible, T-shaped device that is placed into the uterus (womb). The IUD is a form of birth control.

Intravenous pyelogram (IVP): This is a special type of X-ray that outlines the organs of the kidneys and urinary tract.

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