Sexual and Reproductive Health Glossary
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Immune deficiency: A breakdown or inability of certain parts of the immune system to function, thus making a person susceptible to certain diseases that they would not ordinarily develop.1
Immune system: The body's complicated natural defence against disruption caused by invading foreign agents (e.g. microbes, viruses).1
Implants: regarding contraception, they are a set of silicon capsules containing synthetic progesterone that are inserted in the upper arm as a means of birth control. They can be worn for a few years.
Impotence: Inability of a man to have or sustain an erection.1
In The Closet: Phrase used to describe the hypothetical place we say someone is before the come out (see ‘coming out’). Reasons for this could be fear, safety, denial, etc.11
Infertility: The inability of couples of reproductive age, who are having sexual intercourse without contraception, to establish pregnancy within one year. This can be due to disorders of either the male or the female reproductive systems. The major causes in men are abnormal spermatogenesis, disorders of the secretory function of accessory organs, obstruction of the genital tract and abnormal sperm function; and in women, ovulatory disorders, tubal occlusion, peritoneal factors such as pelvic inflammatory disease or endometriosis, cervical factors and failure of implantation. Reproductive tract infections are an important cause of infertility in women but can be prevented.1
Information, education and communication: A program to ensure that clients or potential clients of sexual and reproductive health services are given the means to make informed decisions about childbearing and about their sexual and reproductive health. Information involves generating and disseminating general and technical information, facts and issues, in order to create awareness and knowledge. Education whether formal or non-formal, is a process of facilitated learning to enable those learning to make rational and informed decisions. Communication is a planned process aimed at motivating people to adopt new attitudes or behaviour.1
Informed choice: Voluntary decision by a client to use, or not to use, a contraceptive method (or accept a sexual and reproductive health service) after receiving adequate information regarding options, risks, advantages and disadvantages of all available methods. The exercise of both the right of access to family planning and the right to make informed and responsible decisions about childbearing requires full knowledge of the benefits, purposes and practice of family planning, access to services and the personal, familial and societal consequences of individual reproductive behaviour.1
Intercourse: usually refers to the insertion of the penis into the mouth (oral intercourse/sex), the anus (anal intercourse/sex) or the vagina (vaginal intercourse/sex)
Internalized Homophobia: The experience of shame, aversion, or self-hatred in reaction to one’s own feelings of attraction for a person of the same sex (produced from living in a homophobic society).11
Intersexed/Intersexual: Individuals who may have external genitalia which do not closely resemble typical male or female genitalia; the appearance of both male and female genitalia; the genitalia of one sex and the secondary sex characteristics of the other sex; or a chromosomal make-up that is neither XX or XY, or a combination of both.5
Inverted Nipple: A nipple that points in and not out.15
IUD (Intra-Uterine Device): A long-term, reversible method of contraception, involving the insertion into the uterus of a small flexible device of metal/plastic/hormonal materials.1
IVF (In Vitro Fertilization): A procedure in which an egg is fertilized by sperm in a laboratory dish.7
Kegel Exercises: An exercise in which a woman tightens the muscles surrounding the vagina; also called PC (pubococcygeal) muscle exercises.
Labia: folds of skin that surround the vaginal and urethral openings.11
Labia Majora: Rounded outer of fatty tissue lying on either side of the vaginal entrance.7
Labia Minora: thin folds of skin lying on either side of the vaginal entrance.7
LAM (Lactational Amenorrhoea Method): A post-partum method of preventing pregnancy in the short term. It is based on evidence that for six months after birth a very high degree of protection naturally occurs against pregnancy, if the mother is fully or nearly fully breast-feeding.1
Lea Contraceptive: A barrier contraceptive method that resembles both a cervical cap and a diaphragm, but has a one-way valve.
Lesbian: A female who is emotionally and sexually attracted to other women.15
LGBTTQQI: Acronym for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Two-Spirited, Queer, Questioning, Intersex. May be used with all or some of the letters.
Lips: Slang term for labia.
Lochia: a discharge from the uterus and vagina that occurs during the first few weeks after childbirth.7
Low dose pill: A combined contraceptive pill that contains 35 micrograms of estrogen or less.1
Lubricant: referred to as ‘lube’ for short. A substance capable of reducing friction by making surfaces smooth or slippery.12 Normally lubricants are made of oil or grease. It is safer and healthy to use a water based lubricant for sexual purposes.