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Terminology
Menopause Oasis
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Terms you may see used on our board regarding menopausal symptoms and procedures.

Bilateral Oophorectomy: the surgical removal of both ovaries, resulting in surgical menopause.

Bilateral Salpingo-Oophorectomy (BSO): the surgical removal of both fallopian tubes and ovaries

Bleeding - Irregular or abnormal: this is a term that encompasses a multitude of circumstances and conditions.  Both Healthy Women and WebMD do a much more thorough job of addressing this than I could, unless I copied their text word for word! You will learn there what to look for and how to deal with each type of episode of abnormal bleeding.

Complete hysterectomy: a common (non-medical term) that usually means a total hysterectomy plus removal of the ovaries and fallopian tubes.

D&C (Dilation and Curettage): a surgical procedure that is usually performed under local anesthesia in which the cervix is dilated and the endometrial lining of the uterus is scraped with a curet. This is often performed to obtain tissue samples or to stop prolonged bleeding or for the removal of fibroids.

Dyspareunia: the term given to painful intercourse, often as a result of low estrogen levels.

Endometrial Biopsy: the medical procedure in which a sampling of the tissue lining of the uterus is taken and sent for analysis. This is often done when abnormal bleeding is occurring (to check for hyperplasia, overgrowth of the endometrium, or cancer). Also used to test for ovulation or follicles. During endometrial biopsy the doctor inserts either a plastic or metal tubular device into the uterus to remove a tiny piece of the inner lining tissue. Usually no anethesthesia is required, but taking oral pain medications before the procedure can help reduce cramping and pain.

Endometriosis: the term give to the condition when endometrial tissue (tissue from the uterine lining) grows outside of the uterus. This can lead to excessive bleeding, problems with ovulation, etc.

Endometrium: the lining of the uterus; which thickens in preparation for pregnancy, then is shed if no fertilized egg is implanted (menstrual period).

Fibroids (Myoma or Leiomyoma): these are benign growths in the walls of the uterus. They may also be attached by a stalk to the outside of the uterus. This can cause irregular bleeding, breakthrough bleeding, etc. Estrogen can "feed" a fibroid -- causing it to grow. Treatment is often the use of progesterone or surgery.

Heart palpitations: (cardiac arrhythmia) the sensation of your heart skipping a beat or beating too fast; a pounding pulse.    This is fairly common in menopausal (peri-menopausal) women and may be accompanied by hot flashes or anxiety.  In these cases it is generally related to fluctuating hormones. If you are using hormone replacement therapy (HRT) you may also notice an increase in heart palpitations at the beginning of your treatments.      Because there are many other causes for cardiac arrhythmia you condition, should it continue, needs to be evaluated by a doctor.

Hyperplasia: the overgrowth of the endometrial lining. This can cause excessive bleeding and, if left untreated, may become a precursor to cancer.

Hyperthyroidism: an autoimmune disorder in which the thyroid gland overproduces thyroid hormone. Can cause many symptoms that closely resemble those of menopause.

Hypothyroidism: autoimmune disorder in which the thyroid gland under produces insufficient thyroid hormone. May cause symptoms that closely resemble those of menopause.

Hysterectomy: the surgical removal of the uterus.

Hysteroscopy: a medical procedure in which a doctor uses a fiber-optic device to check for uterine abnormalities. This is sometimes performed if you have abnormal uterine bleeding.

Laparoscopy (lap): a procedure in which a small scope (a laparoscope) is inserted through a small incision in the abdomen and used to examine the pelvic organs. This is often used in the diagnosis and treatment of endometriosis and polycystic ovarian syndrome, as well as assessment of the uterus and fallopian tubes.

Menopause: the point in time at which a woman has gone for one full year without a menstrual period.

Menorrhagia: the term given to excessively heavy or long menstrual flow.

Ooporectomy: the surgical removal of one or both ovaries.

Peri-menopause: the period of time (10 to 15 years) occurring as early as the early 30s where the female body is winding down its production of the female sex hormones. Rather like puberty in reverse!

Phantom period: the appearance of all of the normal menstrual period symptoms (cramping, bloating, PMS) with no period resulting.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCO, PCOD, PCOS): a condition in which cysts grow in the ovaries -- often interfering with ovulation. May be detected by excessive androgen levels which may result in irregular menstrual cycles, male-pattern baldness, excessive hair growth elsewhere on the body, obesity or unexplained weight gain, excessive facial hair and/or body hair, insulin resistance and infertility. This is a reversible condition, as it often can be treated through medication.

Post-menopause: the period of a woman’s life that follows menopause.

Subtotal hysterectomy: a surgery in which only the upper part of the uterus is removed, leaving the cervix. Tubes and ovaries may or may not be removed. This procedure is always done through the abdomen. Leaving the cervix may help with later sexual enjoyment. After this operation, a woman still needs to have regular Pap smears to prevent cervical cancer.

Thermal ablation: a procedure in which a latex balloon is inserted into the uterus and is filled with a fluid. That fluid is then heated to a temperature hot enough to destroy the endometrium (the lining of the uterus), leaving only myometrium (muscle) and fibrous tissue. This procedure is not meant to simply stop one from having periods. This is usually done only when there has been a long record of extremely heavy periods or for peri-menopausal women who bleed heavily with hormone replacement therapy. Either a general anaesthetic or an epidural anaesthetic is used during the procedure, thus requiring admission to hospital or a day surgery unit.

Total Hysterectomy: A surgery which involves removing both the uterus and the cervix. This surgery can sometimes be done through the vagina (vaginal hysterectomy); at other times, a surgical incision in the lower belly (abdominal hysterectomy) is preferable. For example, if you have large fibroid tumors, it is difficult to safely remove the uterus through the vagina. A vaginal hysterectomy, when it can safely be performed, generally involves fewer complications, a shorter recovery period and leaves no visible scar. This term may also be used to include the removal of both ovaries and fallopian tubes as well as the uterus.

Unusual Bleeding:  This term can be applied to *any* vaginal bleeding that is not what is 'normal' for you. For some in depth explanations of the various possible scenarios on this topic and how each should be handled click on this link.

Uterine Prolapse: this occurs when the ligaments that hold the uterus in place in the pelvis weaken. The uterus tilts or slips, sometimes protruding into the vaginal canal. This may occur when estrogen levels are low. May be treated non-surgically by using Kegel exercises (which strengthen the pelvic muscles), estrogen supplementation, or use of a pessary(a rubber diaphragm-like device that fits around the cervix) or may be treated surgically.

Vaginal atrophy: the thinning of vaginal tissues during peri-menopause, associated with reduced elasticity and loss of acidity in vaginal secretions. This is due to decreased production of estrogen. It creates an environment that is susceptible to inflammation, irritation, and even infection. The first symptom usually noticed is decreased vaginal lubrication and eventually, symptoms may include burning, irritation, itching, painful intercourse, and discharge. Urinary symptoms, including frequency, urgency, pain with voiding, and incontinence may also occur as a result of atrophic changes after the menopause. Traditionally, vaginal atrophy is treated with vaginal lubricants or with estrogen.

Withdrawal bleeding: menstrual bleeding that follows the cessation of a progesterone regimen. For example: when taking cyclic estrogen/progesterone - thus bringing on a menstrual period (or) when ceasing the taking of continuous progesterone.