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Sexual Conditions Health Center

Sex Glossary

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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.

Keloid: A dense scar formed by the excessive growth of fibrous tissue following an injury to the skin.

Labia majora: Part of the female external reproductive system, the labia majora are the two outer lips that are covered by pubic hair in adult women.

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