Does A Visit To Your OBGYN Leave You Confused? Learn What These Terms Mean

Posted: May 19, 2016

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During a visit to the OBGYN, she might use some medical terms while discussing your condition and suggested treatment options. What exactly are these?

Familiarising yourself with the terms that are commonly used by gynaecologists will help you deeply engage in the discussion and understand all the implications.

Acute

Severe and sudden.

Amniocentesis

A diagnostic test offered to women who are considered to be at a high risk of having a baby with chromosomal (genetic) abnormalities. A small sample of the fluid in the womb is taken out with the help of a small needle, through the abdomen, after using a local anaesthetic to numb the skin. This does not harm the baby

Anaesthetic

A general anaesthetic is a drug used to make a person unconscious during major surgery. Local anaesthetic temporarily numbs the area where surgery is to be performed.

Body fluids

All fluids produced by the body such as saliva, semen, blood, and vagina fluids.

Caesarean section

Surgically removing the baby from the uterus when vaginal delivery is difficult or impossible, usually to save the baby’s and/or the mother’s life.

Cervical laceration

A tear in the cervix, usually caused by childbirth. This is stitched up afterwards, like any other surgical procedure.

Cervical mucus

A sticky fluid of egg white consistency that allows the sperm to easily swim to the cervix. Fertile cervical mucus is the consistency of egg whites. During pregnancy, it becomes thick and viscous, to form a sort of plug that closes the cervix and prevents any infection getting into the uterus which houses the baby.

Cervix

The opening or neck of the uterus, a tubelike structure, that is usually not open – it opens and widens only during labour (delivery) and miscarriage (spontaneous abortion).

Chronic

A disease or condition that continues over a long period of time, and which cannot be easily eliminated with treatment.

Colposcopy

The procedure of looking at the cervix with a speculum in place.

Contraception

Birth control. Condoms, the Pill, IUD (intra-uterine device), etc.

Contraction

The tensing and shortening of muscles, leading to the feeling of cramps.

Dilation and Curettage (D&C)

Opening the cervix (dilation) followed by scraping the inside surface tissue of the uterus (curettage). This is done using anaesthesia, and is a minor surgical procedure. Usually performed to treat abnormal bleeding or to clear the uterine lining after an abortion or miscarriage.

Ectopic pregnancy

A fertilized ovum implanting in developing inside the Fallopian tubes. This usually does not grow to term, and so usually ends in a miscarriage.

Endometrium

Mucous membrane lining the surface of the uterus. This membrane thickens during the menstrual cycle, and is shed as menstrual flow if implantation of a fertilised ovum does not happen.

Epidural

An anaesthetic injection given in the back which numbs the nerves to the uterus and cervix. This can be used during childbirth, to ease the pain of labour.

Episiotomy

A small cut that is made at the base of the vagina during delivery. This allows the infant to be pushed out of the vaginal canal more easily.

Dysmenorrhea

Painful periods.

First stage of labour

When a baby is delivered, the first stage of the process is regular, painful contractions that dilates the cervix to 10 cms, when it is said to be fully dilated. This is the first stage of labour, and is often the longest in terms of hours.

Gestational diabetes

A form of diabetes which develops during pregnancy. This happens only for a small proportion of women and typically goes away after the baby is born.

Genital warts

Bumpy growths around the genital area caused by an infection HPV (Human Papilloma Virus). This can be contagious and needs treatment.

HRT

Hormone Replacement Therapy or HRT is the supplementation of hormones that regulate the reproductive system. HRT is usually done during and after menopause to help manage its symptoms, which are caused by hormone imbalance.

Infertility

The condition of being unable to have children.

Laparoscopy

Surgery that is done through a small incision with the help of a small fibre optic instrument called laparoscope. The cut in the skin is a small one, more like a punched out hole, and the probe of the laparoscope is inserted to do the diagnostic test or surgery.

Menopause

When a woman’s menstrual periods stop permanently. It usually happens after in the 40s or 50s and is signaled by the stopping of menstruation 12 months in a row.

Pap smear

A test that is used to determine the presence of abnormal cells on the cervix. The gynaecologist takes a scraping of cervical cells, which is a painless procedure, and is a routine test for early detection of cervical cancer, usually recommended once in two years after 40 years of age.

Pelvic examination

A vaginal examination.

Peri-menopause

The time before and after menopause when a woman may experience symptoms like hot flashes, irregularity of periods, etc. due to hormonal changes.

Perineum

The area between the back of the vagina and anus. This might get cut or torn during normal childbirth, and will need stitching up, or suturing, as the doctor might say.

Second stage of labour

The time when the cervix is fully dilated and the baby descends down the birth canal – the actual birth, when the baby comes out.

Speculum

A device that holds the vagina open during a physical examination that a gynaecologist does, so that internal structure can be easily seen.

Suppositories

Medication that is to be inserted into the anus or vagina, where it dissolves or melts and exert local or systemic effects.

Third stage of labour

When the baby has fully emerged and the placenta is delivered.

Ultrasound

A procedure that uses sound waves to create an image of internal organs like the uterus. This image can be seen on a screen and help in diagnosing any problems inside the abdomen.

Vulva

The genital area of a woman. Includes labia, clitoris and the vaginal opening.

It is empowering to know what is being said about your body, so that you can make informed choices.

Image source: visit to the OBGYN by Shutterstock.

Nisha Salim is a self-employed writer and a social media junkie.

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