Sexual and Reproductive Health Glossary
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Gamete: Sperm or egg cell.
Gay: A male who is emotionally and sexually attracted to people of the same sex. “Gay” can also refer to or include lesbians.15
Gender: Gender refers to the economic, social and cultural attributes and opportunities associated with being male or female in a particular point in time.
Gender Identity: The psychological sense of one’s own maleness or femaleness.7 Your inner feeling that you are male, female, both, neither or somewhere in between.15 This is the individual’s innermost concept of self as "male or "female"; what we perceive and call ourselves. Though the formation of gender identity is a complex process, it is thought that individuals develop this generally between the ages of 18 months and 3 years, though many current theories posit that this begins to be formed before birth. Most people develop a (core) gender identity aligning with their biological sex. For some, however, their gender identity is different from their biological sex.
Gender Roles: The behaviours that a society or culture assigns to people on the basis of being male or female.
Genital: of or relating to the external reproductive organs.
Genitals: The outer sex organs of males and females.15
Genital Warts: Small benign (non-cancerous) growths located in the genital and/or anal regions, caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV).
Gland: Any organ that makes a substance used in the body. Many glands make hormones.15
Glans: The head of the penis; source of sexual pleasure.11
GLBT: An abbreviation for Gay/Lesbian /Bisexual/ Transgendered. The letters sometimes appear in varied order, such as LGBT.
Going Down: A slang term for oral sex.
Gonads: A pair of glands (ovaries or testes) which manufacture sex hormones (estrogen, progesterone and testosterone) and produce germ cells (eggs or sperm).7
G-Spot: Is thought to be a sensitive area felt through the upper or front wall of the vagina. The G Spot does not lie on the vaginal wall itself, but can be felt through it. It is usually felt about half way between the back of the pubic bone and the cervix and feels like a small lump that swells as it is stimulated.11 Some women report not feeling anything around this area and some researchers are unsure if the spot exists.
Gynaecological Exam: Examination by a health care provider of a woman’s external genitals, as well as the vagina and cervix.11
Haemorrhoids: A mass of dilated veins in swollen tissue at the margin of the anus.11
Hand Job: A slang term for masturbation performed by a second person.
Healthy Sexuality: Healthy sexuality is a positive and life affirming part of being human. It includes knowledge of self, opportunities for healthy sexual development and sexual experience, the capacity for intimacy, an ability to share relationships, and comfort with different expressions of sexuality including love, joy, caring, sensuality, or celibacy. Our attitudes about sexuality, our ability to understand and accept our own sexuality, to make healthy choices and respect the choices of others, are essential aspects of who we are and how we interact with our world.1
Hernia: Displacement and protrusion of part of an organ through the wall of the cavity containing it (e.g. abdomen).11
Herpes: A virus with outbreaks of blisters on the skin, mucous membranes, etc. Most commonly found on the mouth (cold sores) or genitals (Genital Herpes).
Heterosexism: The attitude that heterosexuality is the only valid sexual orientation.6
Heterosexual: A person whose sexual orientation is toward members of the opposite sex.
Hickey: slang term for a mild hematoma or bruise cause by sucking or biting the skin.
Homophobia: A strong, irrational fear of gay men and lesbians; negative attitudes and reactions to gay men and lesbian women.7
Homosexual: A person whose sexual orientation is toward members of the same gender.7
Hormones: Proteins produced by your body and move around in your blood. Hormones control how you grow, how you burn up the food you eat, and how you reproduce.13
Hormonal contraception: Systemic methods of contraception based on a progestagen combined with an oestrogen, or a progestagen alone. The methods of delivery include pills (oral contraceptives), injectables and implants. All are reversible. Pills (two types): Combined oral contraceptives (COCs) contain synthetic estrogen and progestagen. They can be monophasic, i.e. a fixed concentration of hormones throughout 21 days of the 28-day menstrual cycle, or multiphasic, with two (biphasic) or three (triphasic) variations of concentration throughout the cycle. Progestagen-only pills (POPs) contain only a progestagen, in a smaller dose than in COCs. Injectables are longer lasting than oral contraceptives. The first were composed of progestagen only, the most common being Depo Provera ®, which lasts three months.1
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus): A retrovirus that causes AIDS. Two types of HIV are currently known: HIV-1 and HIV-2. Worldwide, the predominant virus is HIV-1. Both types of the virus may be transmitted by sexual contact, through blood, and from mother to child (either before or during birth, or through breast feeding), and they appear to cause clinically indistinguishable AIDS. However, HIV-2 is less easily transmitted, and the period between initial infection and illness is longer in the case of HIV-2. While some individuals experience mild HIV-related disease soon after initial infection, many remain well for years. As the virus gradually damages their immune system, they begin to develop opportunistic infections of increasing severity, including diarrhea, fever, tuberculosis, pneumonia, lymphoma and Kaposi's sarcoma.1
Hormones: Chemical substances secreted by the endocrine glands into the blood stream.7
HCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotrophin): A hormone secreted by the placenta; it is the substance detected in pregnancy tests.7
Human Papilloma Virus (HPV): The virus that causes genital warts and cervical cancers.
Hymen: A thin membrane that partially covers the entrance of the vagina. Its rupture or absence is not necessarily evidence of sexual activity, as it can rupture from physical activity (e.g. gymnastics).11
Hysterectomy: Surgical removal of the uterus.7