Nishmat's Women’s Health and HalachaIn memory of Chaya Mirel bat R' Avraham

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Medical Terms

Click here for a glossary of Halachic terms

Amenorrhea – Lack of menstruation

Assisted Reproductive Technology – A medical intervention to achieve pregnancy – e.g., in vitro fertilization (IVF), intrauterine insemination (IUI)

Biopsy – Removal of a tissue sample from a living body for examination and diagnosis

Cervix – The "neck" of the uterus, which opens into the vagina

Cesarean section – Surgical delivery of a baby via the abdominal wall

Condom – a barrier (a sheath worn by a man or inserted by a woman) that prevents sperm from entering the vagina

Contraception – deliberate prevention of pregnancy, "birth control"

Diaphragm – a latex cup placed deep inside the vagina, blocking the passage of sperm into the cervix

Dilatation & Curettage (D&C) – a surgical procedure to scrape out the lining of the uterus. If done while a woman is pregnant, it is also a form of abortion.

Embryo – a developing baby in the first half of pregnancy

Endometrium – The lining of the uterus, which is shed monthly with menstruation

Estrogen – one of a group of female hormones

Fallopian tube – A tube branching from the uterus towards the ovary; after ovulation the ovum (egg) enters the fallopian tube and travels towards the uterus

Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) – A natural method, used either for contraception or to achieve pregnancy, in which a woman monitors her fertility cycle

Fertilization – The union of egg and sperm cells, conception

Fetus – a developing baby in the latter half of pregnancy

Fibroid – a benign tumor of the uterus

Hormonal Contraception – The use of synthetic hormones to prevent pregnancy

Hormone – A chemical substance, produced by a gland and released into the bloodstream, that affects a bodily process or function

Hymen – a thin membrane that initially covers part of the vaginal opening; it is stretched during marital relations and generally disappears after a few episodes of relations

Hysterectomy – surgical removal of the uterus

Infertility – The inability to produce offspring

In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) – union of an egg and sperm outside of the body. Babies produced in this manner are sometimes called "test tube babies."

Intrauterine Device (IUD) – a small device inserted into the uterus to prevent pregnancy

Intrauterine System – a form of IUD that releases progesterone

Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) – medical injection of sperm into the uterus to assist in achieving pregnancy

Labia – The "lips" surrounding the opening of the vagina

Lactational Amenorrhea Method (LAM) – A natural method of contraception based on the lack of ovulation caused by breastfeeding

Lubricant – a substance that coats an item to reduce friction; vaginal lubricants are sometimes used to avoid discomfort during halachic or medical examinations or marital relations.

Menopause – The point in a woman's life where menstruation stops completely

Menses – A synonym for menstruation

Menstruation – Hormonally regulated shedding of the uterine lining

Miscarriage – The loss of an embryo or fetus during pregnancy

Os – literally mouth. The cervical os is the opening of the cervix

Ovary – A small gland that produces ova (eggs), as well as hormones such as estrogen and progesterone

Ovum – Egg cell (plural ova)

Ovulation –The exit of a mature ovum (egg) from the ovary

Pap Smear – Screening test for cervical cancer, in which a few cells are scraped from the cervix and examined in a laboratory

Perimenopause – The transition to menopause during the final years of menstruation

Polyp – A small growth arising from a mucous membrane

Progesterone – one of a group of female hormones

Semen – liquid containing sperm cells, released by the husband during relations

Speculum – an instrument, consisting of two rounded blades on a hinge, used to see the mouth of the cervix

Sperm – Male reproductive cell, which unites with an egg cell to produce an embryo

Spermicide – chemical substances that damage sperm. They can be used during marital relations to prevent pregnancy.

Sterilization – A procedure that renders one permanently infertile

Trauma – injury

Tubal Ligation – Sterilization of a woman by tying the fallopian tubes to prevent the passage of ova (eggs)

Ultrasound – Ultrasonic waves, which can be used to view internal organs or a developing fetus

Uterus – The womb, the muscular organ where a pregnancy develops

Vagina – The external opening of the female genital tract

Vasectomy – Sterilization of a man by severing the vas deferens to prevent the passage of sperm

Vulva – The area surrounding the vaginal opening

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All health and health-related information contained within Nishmat's Women's Health & Halacha Web site is intended to be general in nature and should not be used as a substitute for consulting with your health care professional. The advice is intended to offer a basis for individuals to discuss their medical condition with their health care provider but not individual advice. Although every effort is made to ensure that the material within Nishmat's Women's Health & Halacha Web site is accurate and timely, it is provided for the convenience of the Web site user but should not be considered official. Advice for actual medical practice should be obtained from a licensed health care professional.

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