Endometriosis: Glossary

Here are definitions of medical terms related to endometriosis.

Adhesions: Web-like tissue that develops from endometriosis and may bind pelvic organs together.

CA-125 blood test: A test to measure a certain protein in the blood and a tumor marker for ovarian cancer; it often is elevated when certain conditions, including endometriosis, are present.

Cervix: The neck of the uterus.

Cyst: A fluid-filled growth within the body.

Danazol: Synthetic male hormone that relieves the pain of endometriosis by stopping the monthly hormonal cycle that causes endometrial tissue to swell.

Dysmenorrhea: Painful menstrual periods.

Dyspareunia: Painful intercourse.

Electrocautery: An electrical current that produces heat in order to destroy tissue.

Endometrial implant: A patch of misplaced tissue from the lining of the uterus.

Endometrioma: A cyst in the ovary caused by endometriosis.

Endometriosis: A disorder in which bits of tissue from the lining of the uterus (the endometrium) grow outside of a woman’s uterus, causing pain and sometimes infertility.

Endometrium: The type of tissue that lines the uterus.

Estrogen: The main female sex hormone; produced by the ovaries, it controls the development and (along with progesterone) the functioning of the reproductive system.

Fallopian tube: The egg duct that transports an egg to the uterus; fertilization takes place here.

Gamete Intrafallopian Transfer (GIFT): An assisted conception technique that involves placing eggs and sperms into the fallopian tubes for fertilization.

Genes: Units of inherited material contained in the cells of our bodies.

GnRH agonists: A group of drugs that suppress the pituitary gland (the gland that produces hormones that regulate the function of the ovaries).

Hormones: Chemicals produced by an organ or body part and carried in the bloodstream to affect the function of another organ or body part.

Hysterectomy: Surgical removal of the uterus and sometimes the ovaries and fallopian tubes as well.

In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF): An assisted conception technique that involves surgically removing eggs from the ovaries, fertilizing them with male sperm outside the body, and then placing them in the uterus.

Infertility: In a woman, the inability to become pregnant.

Laparoscopy: A method of examining the abdominal cavity by means of a laparoscope (viewing tube).

Laparotomy: Exploratory abdominal surgery.

Lasers: A device that concentrates light into an intense beam to produce heat that destroys tissue.

Lymphatic system: A system of channels throughout the body that help to drain away excess bodily fluids.

Menopause: The end of menstrual periods in a woman.

Menstruation: The monthly shedding of the lining of the uterus (the endometrium), which occurs in a woman who has not become pregnant.

Organochlorines: Man-made chemicals that act like the hormone estrogen.

Osteoporosis: A condition in which the bones become brittle and can break easily.

Ovary: One of a pair of almond-shaped glands located on either side of the uterus, containing numerous follicles in which egg cells develop.

Peritoneal fluid: The small amount of fluid in the peritoneal cavity, which is one of the body’s main cavities (it contains the stomach, liver, intestines, and, in women, the uterus and ovaries).

Pituitary gland: A small gland within the head that produces hormones called gonadotropin, which effect the ovaries.

Progesterone: One of the main female sex hormones produced by the ovary; it prepares the lining of the uterus for implantation of a fertilized egg (drugs with similar properties are known as progestogens or progestins).

Prostaglandins: A group of hormone-like chemicals, some of which have an effect on the female reproductive system.

Retrograde menstruation: The backward flow of menstrual blood up into the fallopian tubes, thought to be a cause of endometriosis.

Rectum: Lowest part of the bowel.

Retroverted uterus: A uterus that is tilted backwards.

Testosterone: The main male sex hormone; tiny amounts are naturally present in women.

Umbilicus: Navel or belly button.

Uterus: The hollow, muscular organ of the female reproductive system in which a fertilized egg becomes imbedded and in which a developing embryo is nourished and grows.

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