Common GYN Terms

Common gynecology terms and what we mean when we say them.

Colposcopy: .A magnified look at the cervix with a speculum in place. This may be performed when a Pap Smear is abnormal, when there is bleeding after intercourse or if your provider sees an abnormal area during the speculum exam. Small samples (biopsies) may be taken during the procedure for further evaluation.

Cryotherapy: Application of extreme cold to destroy abnormal tissue. When the pap smear or pathology is abnormal.

Dilation and Curettage (D&C): This procedure involves opening the cervix (dilation) and then scraping along the internal surface of the uterus (curettage). This can be performed for the evaluation or treatment of abnormal bleeding or for the surgical management of a miscarriage.

Endometruim- The mucous membrane that lines the inner surface of the uterus, and which thickens during each menstrual cycle to prepare the uterus for implantation of a fertilized egg. Most of the endometruim is shed with each menstrual flow if fertilization does not occur.

Endometrial Biopsy: The endometrium is the lining of the uterus. An endometrial biopsy is a sample of that lining performed by passing a small plastic straw through the opening of the cervix. This may be recommended in the evaluation of heavy periods, infertility or bleeding after menopause.

Endometrial Ablation: Destruction of the endometrial lining of the uterus, used mainly to treat abnormal bleeding.

Fallopian Tubes: Two thin tubes through which the egg (fertilized or not) travels from the ovaries to the uterus.

Hysteroscopy: A procedure used to diagnose abnormal bleeding or bleeding after menopause or infertility or to remove fibroids or polyps.A small scope is passed through the cervical opening and then the uterine cavity is filled with gas or fluid so the internal surface of the uterus (endometrial cavity) can be seen. This can be used to identify fibroids or polyps in the uterus and to direct their removal if needed. Hysteroscopy is normally done along with D&C.

Hysterectomy: Removal of the uterus. A total hysterectomy also includes removal of the cervix. A subtotal hysterectomy leaves the cervix intact.

Implanon: A birth control device that is placed in the upper arm and this treatment lasts for three years.

IUD: A type of birth control that is a small plastic device that is inserted and left inside the uterus to prevent pregnancy. Mirena is a five year treatment and Paragard is a ten year treatment.

Laparoscopy: A small scope is passed into the abdominal cavity and the cavity is then filled with gas so the inside of the abdominal cavity can be seen. This allows the outside surface of the uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries to be visualized. Laparoscopy can be used to remove ovarian masses, perform tubal ligation and evaluate pelvic pain. Some larger surgeries such as hysterectomies can also be performed partially or totally with laparoscopy.

Laparoscopically assisted vaginal hysterectomy (LAVH): Removal of the uterus and cervix through a vaginal incision with a laparoscope in place as well. This can be helpful when the uterus is larger or if scarring is suspected.

LEEP: A thin wire loop that cuts like a scalpel to remove a piece of the cervix due to abnormal cells.

Office procedures: Procedures that are typically performed in the exam room without a need for sedation Oophrectomy: Removal of the ovary

Ovaries: The two female reproductive glands in which eggs are formed and which produce the essential female hormones estrogen and progesterone. They are located in the lower abdomen, to the left and right of the uterus.

Pap Smear A screening test for cancer or precancerous change of the cervix. This is performed with a brush which collects cells from the cervix to be examined under the microscope.

Pelvic Exam

The pelvic exam consists of 3 parts:

The External Exam during which the external genitalia are examined for signs of hormonal changes, infection or cancer.

The Speculum Exam (which many patients call "the pap smear"), in which a device is placed in the vagina to view the cervix and vagina and to take samples. Those samples may include culture for infections or a pap smear (see definition below).

The Bimanual Exam where one or two fingers are placed in the vagina and the opposite hand is placed on the lower abdomen to feel for the uterus and ovaries. Masses (like fibroids or ovarian cysts) are detected by this portion of the exam. A rectal exam may also be performed as part of the bimanual exam.

Salpingectomy: Removal of the fallopian tube. This can be done with laparoscopy or with an abdominal incision (open).

Total abdominal hysterectomy bilateral salpingoophrectomy (TAH BSO): Removal of the uterus, cervix, tubes and ovaries through an abdominal incision.

Total vaginal hysterectomy (TVH): Removal of the uterus and cervix through a vaginal incision.

TOT: Insertion of a bladder sling for urinary incontinence.

Uterus: Also known as the womb. It is the muscular, pear- shaped female reproductive organ inside which a fertilized egg is implanted and a developing embryo and fetus grows.

ULTRASOUND: An ultrasound scan is a safe, non-invasive medical test used to evaluate the status of an unborn fetus and to diagnose diseases of the organs and blood vessels.

Vagina: The organ through which blood and tissue pass out of the body during menstrual periods and through which a baby passes during birth.

Vulvar Biopsy: A small sample (usually less than 5 millimeters) taken from the external genitalia for evaluation of abnormal color, inflammation or concern of cancer.