Menopause: Glossary of Terms
(Also Called 'Menopause: Glossary of Terms - General')
Adjuvant therapy: Treatment provided in
addition to the primary treatment.
Alternative medicine: Practices not
generally recognized by the medical community as standard or
conventional medical approaches.
Alzheimer's disease: A progressive disease
in which nerve cells in the brain degenerate and brain matter shrinks,
resulting in impaired thinking, behavior, and memory.
Amenorrhea: The absence of a woman's monthly period.
Androgens: A group of hormones that
promote the development and maintenance of male sex characteristics (also found in women, but in smaller amounts).
Antidepressants: Medications used to treat depression, anxiety, and other medical conditions.
Anti-hypertensive drugs: Medications used
to treat high blood pressure.
Anti-inflammatory drugs: Drugs that reduce
inflammation (swelling) and treat pain.
Anxiety: A feeling of apprehension, fear,
nervousness, or dread accompanied by restlessness or tension.
Atherosclerosis: Also called hardening of
the arteries, this is a disease characterized by a narrowing of the
arteries caused by cholesterol-rich plaques. Atherosclerosis is a common
cause of coronary artery disease or heart disease.
Biofeedback: A method of learning to
voluntarily control certain body functions such as heartbeat, blood
pressure, and muscle tension with the help of a special machine. This
method can help control pain.
Birth control: A way for men and women to
prevent pregnancy. Methods include birth control pills, rings, condoms,
vaginal spermicides, intrauterine devices (IUDs), arm implants, and vasectomy.
Bisphosphonates: A group of drugs used to
treat osteoporosis and the bone pain caused by some types of cancer.
Bladder: The sac that holds urine.
Bladder prolapse: A condition in which the
bladder moves downward from its normal position. It is usually caused by
a weakness in the pelvic floor after childbirth, from aging, or weight gain.
Bone mineral density (BMD): A term used to
describe the amount of calcium present in bone.
Breast cancer: A disease in which abnormal
cells in the breast divide and multiply in an uncontrolled fashion. The
cells can invade nearby tissue and can spread through the bloodstream
and lymphatic system (lymph nodes) to other parts of the body.
Calcitonin: A hormone
produced by cells in the thyroid gland (located in the neck). Calcitonin
controls the level of calcium in the blood and assists the body in
absorbing calcium into bones.
Calcium: A mineral taken in through the
diet that is essential for a variety of bodily functions, such as the
transmission of nerve impulses, muscle contraction, and proper heart
function. Imbalances of calcium can lead to many health problems and can
cause nerve cell death. Calcium is also important for bone health.
Cancer: A general term for more than 100
diseases in which there is an uncontrolled, abnormal growth of cells.
Cancer cells can spread through the bloodstream and lymphatic system to
other parts of the body.
Cataracts: A cloudy or opaque area in the lens of the eye.
Cell proliferation: An increase in the
number of cells as a result of cell growth and cell division.
Cervix: The lowest part of the womb, or
uterus, through which babies pass when they are born.
Chemotherapy: Drugs that have a toxic
effect on cells. Often used in the treatment of cancer to kill the
Clinical trial: An organized research
program conducted with patients to evaluate a new medical treatment,
drug, or device.
Complementary therapy: Practices not
generally recognized by the medical community as standard or
conventional medical approaches and used to enhance or complement
standard treatments. Complementary medicine includes dietary
supplements, mega dose vitamins, herbal preparations, herbal tea,
acupuncture, massage therapy, magnet therapy, spiritual healing, and
Coronary artery disease: A condition
caused by the narrowing of the arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle.
Depression: A condition characterized by
altered mood. There is loss of interest in pleasurable activities.
Depression prevents a person from leading a normal life. Types of
depression include major depression, bipolar depression, chronic
low-grade depression (dysthymia), and seasonal depression (seasonal
affective disorder or SAD).
DXA scan: Also called dual X-ray
absorptiometry scan or a bone density test, it is a special X-ray that detects bone thinning.
Diabetes: A group of diseases in which the
body cannot properly control the amount of sugar in the blood. As a
result, the level of sugar in the blood is too high causing a variety of
complications ranging from cardiovascular disease (heart disease) to
blindness and kidney failure. This disease occurs when the body does not
produce enough insulin or does not use it properly.
Dysmenorrhea: Pain associated with a woman's menstrual period.
Dyspareunia: Pain during sexual intercourse.
Endometrial cancer: Cancer of the lining of the uterus or womb.
Endometriosis: A condition in which tissue
that looks and acts like endometrial tissue is found outside the uterus,
usually inside the abdominal cavity.
Estrogen: A female sex hormone that
stimulates and maintains female sex characteristics. They are either
natural or synthetic. Estrogens are used to treat menstrual and
menopausal disorders and are also used in oral contraceptives.
Evista® (raloxifene): A drug that
belongs to the family of drugs called selective estrogen receptor
modulators (SERMs) and is used in the prevention and treatment of
osteoporosis in postmenopausal women. Raloxifene is also used
as a breast cancer prevention drug.
Fallopian tubes: Narrow, muscular tubes
attached to the upper part of the uterus that serve as tunnels for the
ova (egg) to travel from the ovaries to the uterus. Conception, the
fertilization of an egg by a sperm, normally occurs in the fallopian tubes.
Fibroids: Common benign tumors, made up of
muscle cells and connective tissue that develop within the wall of the uterus.
Fimbriae: The finger-like projections on
the end of the fallopian tubes. The fimbriae sweep the egg into the
Fibrinogen: A protein in the blood that helps it clot.
Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH): A
hormone produced by the pituitary gland (located at the base of the
brain). In women, FSH stimulates the growth of follicles, the small,
cysts that hold the eggs and the supporting cells responsible for the
growth and nurturing of the egg. In men, FSH is necessary for sperm production.
Forteo: Also known as teriparatide, is an injectable bone-building medication.
Fosamax®: Also known as
alendronate, Fosamax® is a drug that has been shown to increase bone
mass and decrease the number of spine and hip fractures. It is used to
prevent and treat osteoporosis.
Gynecologist: A doctor who specializes in
the care and health of the female reproductive organs.
HDL cholesterol: Referred to as "good"
cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein is a type of cholesterol that
protects against heart disease.
Heart disease: A condition that affects
the heart muscle or the blood vessels of the heart.
Hormone therapy (HT): The use of hormones,
usually a combination of estrogen and progesterone, as a therapy, often
used to treat the discomforts of menopause or to replace hormones
(especially estrogen) lost after menopause.
Hormones: Chemicals produced by glands in
the body. Hormones control the actions of certain cells or organs.
Hot flash: A momentary sensation of heat
that may be accompanied by a red, flushed face and sweating.
Hysterectomy: The surgical removal of the uterus.
Impotence: The inability to have an
erection adequate for sexual intercourse.
Incontinence: Loss of bladder and/or bowel control.
Induced menopause: Menopause that occurs
when the ovaries are surgically removed. Induced menopause can also
result from damage to the ovaries caused by radiation or by medications
used in chemotherapy.
Inhibited sexual desire (reduced libido):
A decrease in desire for or interest in sexual activity.
Insomnia: Difficulty in going to sleep or
getting enough sleep.
Kegel exercises: Exercises to strengthen
the muscles that line the floor of the pelvis by alternately squeezing
and holding the muscles and then relaxing them. The exercises can help prevent incontinence.
LDL cholesterol: Considered to be "bad"
cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein is a type of cholesterol that
increases the risk of heart disease.
Luteinizing hormone (LH): A hormone
produced by the pituitary gland (located at the base of the brain). In
women, LH causes the dominant follicle to release its egg from the ovary
(ovulation). In men, LH stimulates the production of testosterone, which
is necessary for sperm production.
Macular degeneration: A disease that
occurs when the macula, the part of the retina at the back of the eye
that provides sharp, central vision, deteriorates with age. It is a
leading cause of vision loss in the elderly.
Male menopause: Subtle changes in the
function of the testis that may occur as early as 45 to 50 years of age,
and more dramatically after the age of 70.
Mammogram: A series of specialized X-rays
of the breast used to detect abnormal growths or changes in the breast tissue.
Menopause: End of a woman's reproductive
years. Diagnosed after regular menstrual periods have stopped for 12 consecutive months.
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 (also called getting a period).
Mittelschmerz: The pelvic pain that some women experience during ovulation. Ovulation generally occurs about mid way 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 strength 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 test: A screening test in which a
sample of cells is taken from a woman's cervix during a pelvic exam. 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, next to the thyroid gland). It helps the body store and use calcium.
Pelvic cavity: The space inside the pelvis
that holds the reproductive organs.
Pelvic examination: An examination during
which a doctor inserts a speculum (an instrument that lets the doctor
see inside the vagina) and examines the vagina, cervix, and uterus. The
doctor will feel for any lumps or changes. A Pap test may be
performed during a pelvic exam.
Pelvic ultrasound: A test that uses sound
waves to produce an electronic image of the organs of the pelvis,
especially the ovaries.
Perimenopause: The time of a woman's life
when menstrual periods become irregular. Refers to the time near menopause.
Phytoestrogens: Estrogen-like substances
from certain plants (such as soy) 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.
Premature ovarian insufficiency: A condition in which a woman's ovaries, for unknown reasons, stop producing eggs before the age of 40.
Progesterone: A female hormone that acts
to prepare the uterus (the womb) to receive and sustain a fertilized egg.
Progestin: A synthetic form of progesterone.
Prolia®: Also known as denosumab. Prolia®
is given as an injection under the skin two times a year by a health
care professional. It is approved for the treatment of osteoporosis in
postmenopausal women who are at high risk for fracture. This medication
acts by inhibiting bone breakdown.
Reclast®: Also known as zoledronic
acid. Reclast® is given by infusion over 15 minutes either once yearly
in patients with osteoporosis or every other year in patients with
osteopenia. This medication builds back done density to help protect
bones against fracture. Reclast® is used to treat and prevent
osteoporosis in postmenopausal women, to increase bone mass in men with
osteoporosis, and to treat other forms of bone mass loss in men and
women. It may be a good alternative for patients who can not tolerate
oral bisphosphonate therapy.
Reduced libido (inhibited sexual desire):
A decrease in desire for or interest in sexual activity.
SERM: Selective estrogen receptor
modulator is a drug that acts like estrogen on some tissues but blocks
the effect of estrogen on other tissues. Tamoxifen and
raloxifene (Evista®) are two examples of SERMs.
Sexual health: Sexual health refers to the
many factors that impact sexual function and reproduction. These factors
include a variety of physical, mental, and emotional issues. Disorders
that affect any of these factors can impact a person's physical and
emotional health, as well as his or her relationships and self-image.
Sexual response cycle: The sequence of
physical and emotional changes that occur as a person becomes sexually
aroused and participates in sexually stimulating activities, including
intercourse and masturbation. The sexual response cycle has four phases:
excitement, plateau, orgasm, and resolution.
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs): An
infection passed from one person to another by unprotected sexual
contact. You can get a sexually transmitted infection from sexual
activity that involves the mouth, anus, or vagina.
Sperm: The male reproductive cells.
Stress incontinence: An involuntary loss
of urine that occurs during activities such as coughing, sneezing,
laughing, or exercising.
Surgical menopause: Induced menopause that
results from surgical removal of the ovaries for medical reasons.
Surgical menopause can occur at any age.
Tamoxifen®: An anticancer drug that belongs to the family of drugs called selective estrogen receptor modulators. Tamoxifen blocks the effects of the hormone estrogen in certain cells of the body, such as the breast. It is used to prevent or delay the return of breast cancer or to control its spread.
Testicles (testes; singular testis): Part
of the male reproductive system, the testicles manufacture the male
hormones, including testosterone, and produce sperm, the male
reproductive cells. The testicles are located inside the scrotum, the
loose sac of skin that hangs below the penis.
Testosterone: The male hormone that is
essential for sperm production and the development of male
characteristics, including muscle mass and strength, fat distribution,
bone mass, and sex drive. Women also have this hormone, but in much smaller amounts.
Thyroid gland: A gland located beneath the
voice box in the throat that produces thyroid hormone. The thyroid helps
regulate growth and metabolism.
Urge incontinence: A condition
characterized by a strong desire to urinate, followed by involuntary
contractions of the bladder.
Urinary tract infection (UTI): A condition
that occurs when bacteria from outside the body gets into the urinary
tract and causes infection and inflammation.
Urologist: A doctor who is specially
trained to treat problems of the male and female urinary system and the
male sex organs.
Uterus: The small, hollow, pear-shaped
organ in a woman's pelvis. This is the organ in which a fetus develops.
Also called the womb.
Vagina: The tube that joins the cervix
(the lower part of uterus, or womb) to the outside of the body. It is
also known as the birth canal.
Vaginal dryness: Inadequate lubrication of
the vagina that can be caused by low estrogen levels, medication, or
lack of sexual arousal.
Vaginal lubricant: A moisturizing product
used to treat vaginal dryness.
Very-low-dose birth control: Birth control
pills that contain less estrogen than regular birth control pills.
Vitamin D: A "so-called" vitamin, actually
a pro-sterol hormone that is produced in the human body through the
interaction of sunlight with the skin that enables the body to absorb
calcium. This is a necessary substance that many people are deficient in
due to lack of sun exposure.
Weight-bearing exercise: Exercise during
which bones and muscles work against the force of gravity and the feet
and legs carry a person's weight. Examples include walking, jogging, and
Women's health specialist: A physician specializing in women's health issues.
X-ray: High-energy radiation used in low
doses to diagnose diseases and used in high doses to treat cancer.
X-rays use high-energy radiation in low doses to create images of the
body to help diagnose diseases and determine the extent of injuries.
Yeast infections: Infections of the vagina
caused by one of the many species of fungus called Candida. A change in
the chemical balance in the vagina allows the fungus to grow too rapidly
and cause symptoms.
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This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 3/21/2015...#10104