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Reproductive Terminology


List of terms associated with the human reproductive system

abortionTermination of pregnancy before the fetus is viable and capable of extrauterine existence.
amniocentesisThe withdrawal of an amniotic fluid by insertion of a needle through the abdominal and the uterine wall.
amnionA smooth, slippery, glistening innermost membrane that lines the amniotic space.
amenorrheaThe cessation of menstruation.
antepartalBefore birth
attitudeThe degree of flexion of the fetus body parts (body, head, and extremities) to each other.
ballottementThe fetus, when pushed, floats away and then returns to touch the examiner's fingers.
basal body temperature (BBT)A means to identify the time that ovulation occurs.
Bartholin's glandTwo, small mucous glands situated on each side of the vaginal opening that secrete small amounts of mucus during intercourse.
breechDelivery of an infant feet or buttocks first.
blastocystThe inner solid mass of cells within the morula.
Braxton-Hick's contractionsPainless uterine contractions occurring throughout pregnancy.
broad ligamentsTwo wing-like structures that extend from the lateral margins of the uterus to the pelvic walls and divide the pelvic cavity into an anterior and posterior compartment.
breast stimulation test (BST)A test that involves stimulation of the nipples (rubbing) which causes the posterior pituitary to release the hormone oxytocin, which in turn, causes contractions.
cardinal movementsMovements made by the fetus during the first and second stage of labor.
cervixThe narrow, inferior outlet that protrudes into the vagina. Chadwick's sign Violet tinge of the cervical and vaginal mucous membranes due to the increased vascularity as a result of increased hormones.
chorionThe outer fetal membrane that forms a large portion of the connective tissue thickness of the placenta on its fetal side.
chorionic villiFingerlike tissue projections of chorion on the outer wall of the fertilized egg.
chromosomesSmall, threadlike structures within each cell that contain genes which carry genetic instructions.
conceptionFertilization; the joining together of the female sex cell and the male sex cell.
conjugateAn important diameter of the pelvis, measured from the center of the promontory of the sacrum to the back of the symphysis pubis.
corpus luteumThe yellow mass found in the graafian follicle after the ovum has been expelled.
contraction stress test (CST)A test to evaluate the respiratory function in the placenta.
Cowper's glandsTwo tiny pea-sized glands that are situated on either side of the membranous portion of the urethra inferior to the prostate.
dyspneaDifficult breathing.
EDCEstimated date of confinement.
edemaAbnormal, excessive fluid within the body tissues.
embryoThe early stage of development of the young of any organism when specific identification is difficult.
endometriumThe inner lining of the uterus.
engagementThe entrance of the presenting part of the fetus into the true pelvis or the largest diameter of the presenting part into the true pelvis.
epididymisA coiled tube about 20 inches long which serves as a temporary storage site for immature sperm.
estrogenThe genetic term for the female sex hormones.
fallopian tubesOviducts or uterine tubes leading from the uterine cavity towards each ovary.
fertilizationThe union of the male and female sex cells
fetalPertaining to or related to the fetus.
fetusThe child in utero from about the seventh to ninth week of gestation until birth.
fimbriaeFringes; especially the fingerlike ends of the fallopian tubes.
follicleA pouch-like depression or cavity.
follicle stimulating hormone (FSH)A hormone produced by the anterior pituitary during the first half of the menstrual cycle.
fundusThe superior, rounded region above the entrance of the fallopian tubes.
fraternal twinsFetuses that develop from two fertilized oval; also referred to as dizygotic twins. They may be the same or different sex.
geneThe smallest unit of inheritance; genes are located on the chromosomes.
genitaliaOrgans of generation, or reproduction.
gestationThe period of intrauterine development from conception through birth; pregnancy.
Goodell's signMarked softening of the cervix.
graafian follicleA mature, fully developed ovarian cyst containing a ripe ovum.
grandmultiparaA woman who has had six or more births past the age of viability.
gravidaA pregnant woman; refers to any pregnancy regardless of duration.
Hegar's signSoftening of the lower uterine segment just above the cervix.
hormoneA chemical substance produced in an organ, which, being carried to an associated organ by the bloodstream, excites in the later organ a functional activity.
hydatidiform moleAn abnormal growth of a fertilized ovum.
hyperemesis gravidarumSevere nausea and vomiting that lasts beyond the fourth month of pregnancy.
identical twinsTwins developed from a single fertilized ovum, they are of the same sex.
in uteroWithin the uterus.
ischial spinesTwo relatively sharp bony projections protruding into the pelvic outlet from the ischial bones that form the lower lateral border of the pelvis. It is used in determining the progress of the fetus down the birth canal.
ischial tuberositiesThe major bony sitting support; important in measuring a transverse diameter of the pelvis.
isthmusThe portion of the uterus that joins the corpus to the cervix.
labia majoraTwo fleshy, hair covered folds located on both sides of the perineal midline, extending from the mons veneris almost to the anus in women.
labia minoraTwo small folds of tissue covering the vestibule located just under the labia major in women.
lactationThe production of milk by the mammary glands.
leukorrheaA white or slightly grey discharge from the vagina or cervix.
lieRefers to the position of the spinal column of the fetus in relation to the spinal column of the mother.
lighteningThe sensation of decreased abdominal distention produced by the descent of the uterus into the pelvic cavity.
linea nigraA black line in the midline of the abdomen that may run from the sternum or umbilicus to the symphysis pubis.
lunar monthsA period of four weeks (28 days).
luteinizing hormoneA hormone produced by the anterior pituitary that stimulates ovulation and the development of the corpus luteum.
mask of pregnancyThe brownish hyperpigmentation of the skin over the face and forehead. Also referred to as chloasma.
meiosisThe process of cell division that occurs in the maturation of sperm and ova that decreases their number of chromosomes by one half.
menstruationThe periodic discharge of blood, mucus, and epithelial cells from the uterus.
menopauseThe cessation of menstruation.
miscarriageLay term for spontaneous abortion.
mons pubisThe fatty, rounded area overlying the symphysis pubis and covered with thick coarse hair.
Montgomery's glandsSmall nodules located around the nipples that enlarge during pregnancy and lactation.
morning sicknessRefers to nausea and vomiting usually in the morning during the first weeks of pregnancy.
mucous plugA collection of thick mucous that blocks the cervical canal during pregnancy.
multifetal pregnancyPregnancy involving two or more fetuses.
multigravidaA woman who has been pregnant more than once.
multiparaA woman who has delivered two or more fetuses past the age of viability.
myometriumThe muscle component of the wall of the uterus.
non-stress test (NST)A test to evaluate the ability of the placenta to supply fetal needs in a normal daily uterine movement.
nulligravidaA woman who has never been pregnant.
nulliparaA woman who has not delivered a child who reached viability.
obstetricsThe branch of medicine concerned with the care of a woman during pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartal period.
oxytocin challenge test (OCT)A dilution of I.V. solution of oxytocin administered to the mother until a contraction pattern is developed.
oocyteA developing egg in one of two stages.
oogenesisThe production of female sex cells.
ovariesTwo almond shaped glands that produce female hormones and female sex cells.
ovulationThe release of an egg cell from a mature ovarian follicle.
ovumThe female reproductive cell.
palpationExamination by touch or feel.
paraA woman who has delivered a viable child (not necessarily living at birth).
penisThe male organ of reproduction or copulation.
perineumThe area of tissue between the anus and scrotum in the male or between the vagina and anus in the female.
peritoneumA strong, serous membrane that lines the abdomina-pelvic wall.
placentaA specialized disk-shaped organ that connects the fetus to the uterine walls for gas and nutrient exchange; also referred to as the afterbirth.
placental abruptionPremature separation of a normally implanted placenta.
placenta previaA placenta that is implanted in the lower uterine segment so that it adjoins or covers the internal os of the cervix.
positionThe relationship between a predetermined point of reference or direction on the presenting part of the fetus to the pelvis of the mother.
postnatalOccurring after birth.
prenatalBefore birth; also referred to as antepartal.
prenatal careThe medical and nursing supervision and care given to the pregnant woman during the period between conception and the onset of labor.
pregnancyThe condition of having a developing embryo or fetus in the body after fertilization of the female egg by the male sperm.
presentationThat part of the fetus which is coming through or attempting to come through the pelvis first.
primigravidaA woman pregnant for the first time.
primiparaA woman who has delivered one child after the age of viability.
progesteroneThe pure hormone contained in the corpora lutea whose function is to prepare the endometrium for the reception and development of the fertilized ovum.
prostate glandA single gland about the size and shape of a chestnut.
quickeningFetal movement within the uterus.
reproductionThe process by which an offspring is formed.
scrotumPouch forming part of the male external genitalia containing the testicles and part of the spermatic cord.
seminal vesiclesTwo pouches that store sperm.
sex chromosomesThe X and Y chromosomes which are responsible for sex determination.
spermThe male sex cell.
spermatogenesisThe formation of sperm.
spermatozoaMature sperm cells of the male produced by the testes.
stationThe depth that the presenting part has descended into the pelvis in relation to the ischial spine of the mother's pelvis.
striae gravidaMarks noted on the abdomen and/or buttocks, commonly known as stretch marks.
term pregnancyA gestation of 38 to 42 weeks.
testes.Two almond-shaped glands whose functions are for the production of sperm and testosterone.
testosteroneThe male sex hormone; responsible for the development of secondary male characteristics.
toxoplasmosisA congenital disease characterized by lesions of the central nervous system which may lead to blindness, brain defects, and death.
trimesterA time period of three months.
uterusA hollow, muscular organ that serves as a protector and nourisher of the developing fetus and aids in its explosion from the body.
vaginaCanal opening between the urethra and anus in the female that extends back to the cervix of the uterus.
varicose veinsPermanently distended veins.
vas deferensExcretory duct of the testis.
vertexTop or crown of the head.
vestibuleA space or cavity at the entrance to a canal.
viabilityThe capability of a fetus to survive outside the uterus at the earliest gestation age, approximately 22 to 23 weeks gestation.
vulvaThe external structure of the female genitals, lying below the mons veneris.
X chromosomeThe female sex chromosome.
Y chromosomeThe male sex chromosome.
zygoteThe combined ovum and sperm; a fertilized egg.

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