Sexual and Reproductive Health Glossary
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Male Condom: A thin latex, polyurethane or natural membrane sheath placed over the glans and shaft of the penis to prevent unintended pregnancies. Latex and polyurethane condoms also reduce the risk if STI transmission.2
MVA (Manual Vacuum Aspiration): A procedure of uterine evacuation using a small flexible plastic tube in association with a hand-held gynaecological syringe (manual vacuum evacuation).1
Masturbation: Stimulation of one’s own genitals with the hand or with some object, such as a pillow or vibrator.7 Touching or rubbing your genitals to make you feel good.15
Menarche: First menstruation.7
Menopause: The period in a woman’s life when she stops menstruating.11
Menstrual Cycle: Repeated changes that prepare the female reproductive system for childbearing; cycle averages 28 days and begins with the development of the ovum, continues through menstruation, and ends when the uterine lining degenerates. It is measured from the beginning of menstruation.11
Menstruation: The process of discharging blood and other materials from the lining of the uterus in sexually mature, non-pregnant women, at intervals of about one lunar month, until the menopause.11
Metastasis: The spread of cancer from one part of the body to another through the bloodstream or lymph system.13
Microbicide: The word 'microbicides' refers to a range of different products that share one common characteristic: the ability to prevent the sexual transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) when applied topically. A microbicide could be produced in many forms, including gels, creams, suppositories, films, or as a sponge or ring that releases the active ingredient over time. Some of the microbicides being investigated prevent pregnancy and some do not.1
MSM: Men who have sex with men.
Miscarriage: The termination of a pregnancy before the fetus is viable, as a result of natural causes (not medical intervention).7
Mons Pubis: The soft, fatty tissue over the female pubic bone that becomes covered with hair after puberty; also called the mons veneris.11
Multigravida: A woman who has been pregnant several times.8
Multiparous: A term used to refer to a woman who has had more that one baby.7
Natural Family Planning: The conscious effort of couples or individuals to plan for and attain their desired number of children and to regulate the spacing and timing of their births free of the use of hormonal or barrier methods of contraception.
New Reproductive and Genetic Technologies (NRGTs): The wide range of technologies available to assist in human reproduction (e.g. IVF or In Vitro Fertilization; artificial insemination, etc.)11
Nocturnal Emission: An involuntary discharge of semen during sleep. Also called a ‘wet dream’.
Nulligravida: A woman who has never been pregnant.1
Nulliparous: A term to refer to a woman who has never given birth to a viable infant.1
Oophorectomy: Surgical removal of the ovaries.7
Opportunistic illnesses (OIs): People with HIV infection have a high risk for a wide range of illnesses due to HIV risk factors and HIV itself. Among the most severe illnesses are the 26 AIDS-defining opportunistic illnesses that occur as a result of HIV disease progression, and generally occur only after substantial damage to the immune system.1
Oral Contraceptives (OCs or OCP): Pills containing synthetic estrogen and progesterone that are taken each day to prevent pregnancy. Also know as the birth control pill, or just ‘the pill’.
Oral Dam: a rectangular piece of latex used sexually as a barrier when performing oral-vaginal or oral-anal sex. Sold in a variety of flavours.
Oral Sex: Sexual activity in which the genitals of one partner are stimulated by the mouth of the other.11
Orgasm: The third stage of sexual response; an intense sensation that occurs at the peak of sexual arousal and is followed by release of sexual tensions.7 Males and females don’t usually reach orgasm together during intercourse. Males usually ejaculate during orgasm. Some females also release a fluid during orgasm. This is known as ‘female ejaculation’ or ‘squirting’ (slang). Also called the climax or climactic phase.
Orgasmic platform: A tightening of the entrance to the vagina caused by contractions of the bulbospongiosus muscle (which covers the vestibular bulbs) that occur during the plateau stage of sexual response.7
Out: When someone who is gay, lesbian, or bisexual has publicly revealed their sexual orientation. There can be different ‘degrees’ of ‘outness’. A person can be out to their friends but not family; out to their family but not out at work, etc. Because most people do not ‘out’ themselves to everyone all at once, it is wrong to out somebody to others even if they have outed themselves to you.
Out Of The Closet: Phrase used to describe the hypothetical place that someone who is gay, lesbian or bisexual is leaving (see ‘coming out’) when they begin to reveal their sexual orientation to others.
Ova: plural of ovum.
Ovaries: Two organs in the female that produce eggs and sex hormones (estrogen and progesterone).7
Ovulation: Release of an egg from the ovaries; the second phase of the menstrual cycle.7
Ovum: Egg cell produced by the female in the ovaries.
Oxytocin: A hormone secreted by the pituitary which stimulates the contractions of the uterus during childbirth; also involved in breastfeeding.7