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Planned Parenthood

Glossary

A

abortifacient

A drug, herb, or device that can cause an abortion.

abortion

The termination and expulsion of a pregnancy before birth.

abortion pill

Popular term for mifepristone, a medication used to terminate pregnancy. (Mifeprex is the brand name.) Sometimes used to describe the process of medication abortion, which includes the use of two medications, usually mifepristone and misoprostol, to terminate and expel a pregnancy.

abstinence

Not having sex play with a partner.

abstinence-only programs

Curricula that teach abstinence as the only morally correct option for unmarried people. They do not include information about the health benefits of condoms for the prevention of sexually transmitted infections and other methods of birth control for the prevention of unintended pregnancy. See "abstinence-only-until-marriage programs."

abstinence-only-until-marriage programs

Curricula that teach abstinence as the only morally correct option for unmarried people. These programs, funded under Title V of the 1996 Welfare Reform Act, do not allow instructors to share information about the health benefits of condoms for the prevention of sexually transmitted infections or other methods of birth control for the prevention of unintended pregnancy. Government-funded abstinence-only-until-marriage programs

abstinence-plus education

See “comprehensive sex education.”

acquaintance rape

Sexual intercourse that is forced by someone the victim knows.

acquired immune deficiency syndrome (aids)

The most advanced stage of HIV disease.

adolescence

The period of physical and emotional change between the beginning of puberty and early adulthood.

adrenarche

The time in early puberty when secondary sex characteristics begin to develop.

adultery

Sexual intercourse between a married person and someone who is not his or her spouse.

a-frame orgasm

The climax or peak of sexual arousal for women that is caused by stimulating the vagina without stimulating the clitoris.

afterbirth

The placenta and other tissue that empty out of the uterus following childbirth.

age of consent

The age at which state law considers a person old enough to decide to have sex with a partner.

age of majority

The age at which state law recognizes a person as a legal adult.

aids (acquired immune deficiency syndrome)

The most advanced stage of HIV disease.

ais (androgen insensitivity syndrome)

A genetic intersex condition that causes a fetus with male chromosomes to be unable to develop male sex organs, so it has a female anatomy at birth and throughout life. Usually raised as girls, individuals with AIS do not have reproductive organs, do not menstruate, are infertile, and usually have vaginas that are too shallow to allow vaginal intercourse.

ally

A friend. Often used to describe someone who takes a stand against oppression or discrimination who is not a member of the oppressed group — for example, a white person who speaks out against racism or a straight person who speaks out against homophobia.

alternative insemination

See "donor insemination.”

alveoli

Sacs inside the breast that produce milk.

amenorrhea

A lack of menstruation.

amniocentesis

A prenatal test that examines the fluid that surrounds and protects the fetus. If indicated, usually performed between 15–18 weeks of pregnancy to detect certain birth defects.

amniotic fluid

The liquid that surrounds the fetus within the amniotic sac.

anal intercourse

Sex play in which the penis enters the anus.

androgen insensitivity syndrome (ais)

A genetic intersex condition that causes a fetus with male chromosomes to be unable to develop male sex organs, so it has a female anatomy at birth and throughout life. Usually raised as girls, individuals with AIS do not have reproductive organs, do not menstruate, are infertile, and usually have vaginas that are too shallow to allow vaginal intercourse.

androgens

Certain hormones that stimulate male sexual development and secondary male sex characteristics. Large amounts are produced in men’s testicles and small amounts are produced in women’s ovaries. The most common androgen is testosterone.

androgyne

A person who has characteristics of both genders, feminine and masculine. A person whose gender looks mixed or neutral — androgynous.

androgyny

A gender identity that allows the expression of both gender roles.

andropause

The gradual decline in sexual vigor as men age, due to decreasing levels of testosterone. Similar to menopause in women.

androphobia

Fear of men.

anesthesia

Medication that causes a loss of sensation and protects against pain during medical procedures. Topical anesthesia stops sensation on surfaces of the body. Local anesthesia stops sensation in a small area of the body. Regional anesthesia stops sensation in a larger area of the body. General anesthesia stops sensation in the whole body and makes one unconscious. Conscious sedation stops sensation in the body while allowing a person to remain awake but deeply relaxed.

anilingus

Oral sex play with a partner’s anus.

anorexia

An eating disorder often caused by poor body image in which people, usually women, don’t eat or eat very little to remain or become thin.

anorgasmia

Inability to have an orgasm or difficulty in having an orgasm.

antibiotics

Medicines that are used to cure infections caused by bacteria, fungi, or protozoa.

antibody

A protein developed by the immune system in response to a toxin introduced into the body.

anti-choice

Opposed to the belief that women have the right to make their own choices about whether and when to have a child.

anus

The opening from the rectum from which solid waste (feces) leaves the body.

aphrodisiac

A substance that is supposed to increase sexual desire.

areola

The dark area surrounding the nipples of women and men.

artificial insemination

See preferred term, “donor insemination.”

asexual

Having no desire for sex play with a partner.

aspiration abortion

A procedure that ends pregnancy by emptying the uterus with the gentle suction of a manual syringe or with machine-operated suction. Also called “in-clinic abortion.”

atrophic vaginitis

A vaginal irritation without a discharge caused by lowered levels of estrogen due to

autoerotic

Providing sexual stimulation for one’s self and/or being aroused by one’s self.

autoerotic asphyxiation

Self-strangulation for sexual arousal. It is very dangerous. Hundreds of young people, mostly men, die of autoerotic asphyxiation every year.

alfred kinsey (1894–1956)

Most influential American sex researcher of the 20th century. His research was unique and groundbreaking. In extensive live interviews, he and his team of researchers took thousands of case histories about the sex lives of women and men. No one else, before or since, has questioned such a huge sample of people so thoroughly about their sexuality. Although his sample did not precisely reflect the full range of diversity of the American people, he and his team provided us with important data from which we have learned a great deal.

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B

backup birth control

Any method — including condoms, diaphragms, sponges, or withdrawal — that is used while waiting for hormonal birth control methods to become effective in a woman’s system or when hormonal methods are not taken on schedule. Some people also refer to emergency contraception as backup birth control.

bacterial vaginosis (bv)

Inflammation of the vulva and/or vagina — vaginitis — caused by a change in the balance of vaginal bacteria, which may be caused by vaginal intercourse or manual sex play, especially with a new partner.

balanitis

An inflammation of the glans and foreskin of the penis that can be caused by infections — including sexually transmitted infections — irritations, drugs, or other factors.

b & d (bondage and discipline)

Sexual role-play that includes elements of sadism or masochism. Often one partner is physically restrained, bound, or leashed.

barrier methods of birth control

Contraceptives that block sperm from entering the uterus. These are the condom, female condom, diaphragm, cap, spermicide, and sponge.

bartholin’s glands

Two glands that provide lubrication during sexual excitement. They are located in the inner labia on each side of the opening to the vagina.

basal body temperature method

A fertility awareness-based birth control method for predicting a woman’s fertility by taking her temperature. Can be used for contraception or planning a pregnancy.

bear

Slang for men, especially gay men, who may be burly and hairy and who reject the most popular ideas of what it is to be attractive.

berdache

In some Native American cultures, a person who is both feminine and masculine. See "transgender" and "two-spirited."

bestiality

Sexual contact with an animal.

bigendered

Expressing femininity and masculinity at different times.

bilateral mastectomy

The surgical removal of both breasts. Performed to treat disease or to create a male-appearing chest. See "chest surgery."

bimanual exam

Physical examination of a woman’s internal reproductive organs.

binge-eating disorder

Compulsive overeating.

biology

The scientific study of life.

biopsy

Taking a small sample of tissue to make a diagnosis.

birth canal

The passage from the uterus through the cervix and vagina through which the fetus is pushed out of a woman’s body during childbirth.

birth control

Behaviors, devices, or medications used to avoid unintended pregnancy.

birth defect

A physical abnormality present at birth.

bisexual

A person whohas sexual desire for people of both genders.

bladder

The organ that collects and stores urine produced by the kidney. The bladder is emptied through the urethra.

blastocyst

The developing pre-embryo shortly before implantation when it is a hollow ball of cells.

blended orgasm

The climax or peak of sexual arousal for women that is brought about by stimulating the clitoris and the vagina.

blood type / blood group

One of several classifications based on the presence or absence of substances that affect red blood cells in different ways and stimulate the production of certain antibodies.

blue balls

Slang for uncomfortable feeling in the genitals that may occur when men do not have an ejaculation following sexual stimulation. Women may experience similar aches if they do not reach orgasm. Because of sexist influences, there is no common expression to describe a woman’s symptoms.

body image

One’s attitudes and feelings about one’s own body and appearance.

bondage and discipline (b & d)

Sexual role-play that includes elements of sadism or masochism. Often one partner is physically restrained, bound, or leashed.

boner

Slang for an erect penis.

breastfeeding

Providing a baby with nourishment of human milk from the breast.

breasts

Two glands on the chests of women. Breasts are secondary sex characteristics in women. They are also considered sex organs because they are often sexually sensitive and may inspire sexual desire. Like mammary glands in other mammals, they produce milk during and after pregnancy. Men also have breast tissue.

brothel

A place where a group of sex workers — prostitutes — serve their clients.

bubo

A swollen gland and sore caused by chancroid.

bulbourethral glands

The glands beneath the prostate gland that are attached to the urethra. They produce an alkaline fluid — pre-ejaculate or pre-cum — that neutralizes the urethra in preparation for ejaculation. Pre-ejaculate also reduces friction in the urethra, making it easier for semen to pass through. Also called “Cowper’s glands.”

bulimia

An eating disorder in which binge eating is followed by purging with laxatives or self-induced vomiting.

bundling

A custom in colonial North America that allowed an unmarried young woman and man to sleep together, usually with a “bundling board” running the length of the bed between them, or with the young woman enclosed in a “bundling bag” that reached up to her armpits.

butch

Slang for acting masculine, especially in regard to lesbians and gay men. May be considered offensive.

butt plug

A toy for anal sex designed to stay in place in the anus and rectum. Some are designed to stimulate a man’s prostate gland.

bv (bacterial vaginosis)

Inflammation of the vulva and/or vagina — vaginitis — caused by a change in the balance of vaginal bacteria, which may be caused by vaginal intercourse or manual sex play, especially with a new partner.

baron richard von krafft-ebing

Moralizing pioneer in sexology, especially in the study of “deviant” sexual behaviors. In his Psycopathia Sexualis, he described and named sadism and masochism. He also showed that the late-stage symptoms of syphilis were caused by the syphilis organism that attacks the central nervous system.

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C

calendar method

A fertility awareness-based method for predicting fertility in which women chart their menstrual cycles on a calendar. Can be used for contraception or to plan a pregnancy.

call boy

A relatively high-end sex worker who makes appointments with his usually gay male clients through an escort service.

call girl

A relatively high-end sex worker who makes appointments with her usually straight male clients through an escort service.

cap

See “FemCap."

candida

A type of yeast — Candida albicans — and a common cause of vaginitis. Yeast infections may also occur in the penis or scrotum. When they occur orally, they are called “thrush.”

castration

Removal of the testicles. See "chemical castration."

casual sex

Sex play between partners who are not in a relationship with one another.

celibacy

Not having sex play. Formerly, not being married.

censorship

The official prohibition of information thought to be offensive or dangerous.

cerebral cortex

The gray, wrinkled mass that covers most of the brain, associated with higher functions, including learning and perception.

cervical cap

A firm, thimble-like, rubber or silicone cup that is intended to fit securely on the cervix. Used with contraceptive jelly, the cervical cap is a barrier method of birth control that is reversible and available only by prescription. The FemCap is the only cervical cap currently available in the U.S.

cervical mucus

The secretion from the lower end of the uterus into the vagina. It changes in quality and quantity throughout the menstrual cycle, especially around the time of ovulation.

cervical mucus method

A fertility awareness-based method for predicting a woman’s fertility by observing changes in her cervical mucus. Can be used for contraception or for planning a pregnancy.

cervicitis

An irritation of the cervix. May include abnormal discharge from the cervix that can look and feel like a vaginal discharge.

cervix

The narrow, lower part — neck — of the uterus, with a narrow opening connecting the uterus to the vagina.

cesarian section / c-section

Childbirth in which the fetus is taken out of the uterus surgically.

chancre

A sore on the skin or mucus membrane that is caused by syphilis during the first phase of infection.

chancroid

A once very common sexually transmitted bacterium that causes open genital sores, called buboes. Only 23 cases were reported in the U.S. in 2007.

change of life

Common term for menopause.

chastity belt

A device designed to prevent women, men, or children from having sex. Used from medieval to modern times, these devices were also supposed to preserve morality. Some were meant to ensure fidelity in women in the absence of their husbands. Others were designed to prevent masturbation and nocturnal emissions in men and boys.

chemical castration

The use of an injection of progestin to decrease a man’s sexual desire and arousal.

chest binding

Flattening breast tissue in order to create a male-appearing chest. Some FTMs and transmen don’t bind at all due to comfort issues, because they may have small chests, or because they have undergone chest reconstruction surgery. Some use different methods of layering clothing to help hide their chests. Some bind only on certain occasions; some bind all the time.

chest surgery / chest reconstruction surgery

Surgical reconstruction to create a more female- or more male-appearing chest. Sometimes also referred to as “top surgery.” Chest surgery is the most common surgical procedure sought by FTMs. For MTFs, chest surgery may involve breast implants, which are sometimes used to augment the amount of breast development that may have already been achieved through estrogen hormone therapy.

child abuse

Mistreatment of a child, physically, emotionally, and/or sexually.

child pornography

Images of children designed to be sexually arousing. Illegal.

child sexual abuse

Sexual contact by an adult with a child. See "incest."

chlamydia

A common, sexually transmitted bacterium that can cause sterility and arthritis in women and men.

chorionic villus sampling (cvs)

A prenatal test that examines the tissue that attaches the fetus to the wall of the uterus. If indicated, usually performed between 10–12 weeks of pregnancy to detect certain birth defects.

chromosome

Structures in a cell that carry genes, which carry hereditary information.

circumcision

An operation to remove the foreskin of the penis or the clitoral hood. See ”female circumcision.”

cisgender

Cisgender refers to thosewhoidentify and present as the gender theywere assignedat birth.For example, a baby born with a vulva is categorized a girl. If she also sees herself as a girl throughout her life, she is considered cisgender. See also "genderqueer" and "cissexual."

cissexual

An individual whose gender identity and physical sex have been aligned since birth. See also "cisgender" and "genderqueer."

climacteric

The physiological and emotional midlife changes for women that precede menopause. Caused by decreasing levels of estrogen and testosterone. See “andropause.”

climax

An orgasm or to have an orgasm.

clinician

A qualified health care professional, such as a doctor, nurse, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant. Also called “health care provider.”

clitoral hood

A small flap of skin formed by the inner labia that covers and protects the clitoris.

clitoral orgasm

The climax or peak of sexual arousal for women that is brought about by stimulating the clitoris without stimulating the vagina.

clitoral reduction

Shortening the clitoris surgically, as in gender reassignment surgery and female genital mutilation.

clitoridectomy

Removal of the external clitoris. See "female genital mutilation."

clitoris

The female sex organ that is very sensitive to the touch. It is made of spongy tissue that swells with blood during sexual excitement. The external tip of the clitoris is located at the top of the vulva, where the inner lips meet. The inner structure of the clitoris includes a shaft and two crura (roots or legs) of tissue that extend up to five inches into a woman’s body on both sides of her vagina to attach to the pubic bone. Networks of highly sensitive nerves extend from the crura in the pelvic area. The clitoris is the only organ in the human body whose only purpose is sexual pleasure.

closed marriage / closed relationship

The union of two people who agree to have no other sex partners.

closeted / in the closet

Concealing one’s true identity (especially bisexual, lesbian, gay, or transgender) to oneself and/or others.

cmv (cytomegalovirus)

An infection that may be transmitted through sexual or intimate contact or childbirth and that may cause permanent disability, including hearing loss and mental retardation for infants and blindness and mental disorders for adults.

coitophobia

Fear of vaginal intercourse.

coitus

Sex play in which the penis enters the vagina. Also called ”vaginal intercourse.”

colostrum

Milk a woman produces for a few days right after childbirth. It is low in fat but high in cells that help her infant fight infection.

colposcope

A viewing instrument with a bright light and magnifying lens that is used to examine the vagina and cervix. (Colposcopes are not inserted into a woman’s body.)

combination pill

A birth control pill that contains the hormones estrogen and progestin.

combined hormone contraceptives

Birth control methods — the pill, the patch, the ring — that contain the hormones estrogen and progestin.

combined oral contraceptives

Birth control pills that contain the hormones estrogen and progestin.

combined test

A special kind of prenatal ultrasound with a blood test that is used to screen a fetus for Down’s syndrome and other chromosomal problems.

coming out (of the closet)

The process of accepting and being open about one’s previously concealed identity, such as being bisexual, lesbian, gay, or transgender.

complete miscarriage

A miscarriage in which all the pregnancy tissue is passed. Treatment usually is not needed.

comprehensive sex education

A medically accurate curriculum or classroom experience that provides young people with positive messages about sex and sexuality as natural, normal, healthy parts of life; includes information about abstinence as the best way to avoid sexually transmitted infections and unintended pregnancy; teaches that condoms reduce the risk of infection, including HIV, and that other forms of birth control also reduce the risk of unplanned pregnancy for young people who are sexually active; and provides opportunities to help young people develop relationship and communications skills to help them explore their own values, goals, and options as well as the values of their families and communities. It also provides medically accurate information about

comstock act

An 1873 law that made it a federal crime to use the U.S. mail to distribute anything considered “obscene, lewd, lascivious, indecently filthy, or vile,” including information about abortion, contraception, and sexual health. Many state “Comstock laws” were also passed during the turn of the 20th century.

conception

The moment when the pre-embryo attaches to the lining of the uterus and pregnancy begins. Also used to describe the fertilization of the egg.

condom

A sheath of thin rubber, plastic, or animal tissue that is worn on the penis during sexual intercourse. It is an over-the-counter, reversible barrier method of birth control, and it also reduces the risk of getting the most serious sexually transmitted infections.

congenital syphilis

Syphilis that is transmitted from a woman to her fetus during pregnancy, leading to bone disorders, wasting, loss of sight and/or hearing, deformities, stillbirth, or death of newborn.

continuous abstinence

Going without sex play for long periods of time — months or years.

contraception/ contraceptive

Any behavior, device, medication, or procedure used to prevent pregnancy.

contraceptive creams and jellies

Substances containing spermicide, which block and immobilize sperm and prevent it from joining with the egg. These are over-the-counter, reversible barrier methods of birth control. Used with cervical caps or diaphragms.

contraceptive film / c-film

A thin, two-inch square sheet of chemicals that is inserted deep into the vagina, and melts into a thick liquid that blocks the entrance to the uterus with a spermicide. It immobilizes sperm and prevents it from joining with an egg. An over-the-counter, reversible barrier method of birth control. Most effective when used with a condom.

contraceptive foam

A substance that is inserted deep into the vagina, and blocks the entrance to the uterus with bubbles that contain a spermicide to immobilize sperm, preventing it from joining with an egg. An over-the-counter, reversible barrier method of birth control. Most effective when used with a condom.

contraceptive suppository

A solid capsule containing spermicide that­ is inserted deep into the vagina, and melts into a liquid to block and immobilize sperm, preventing it from joining with an egg. An over-the-counter, reversible barrier method of birth control. Most effective when used with a condom.

contraction

The periodic tightening of the uterus during childbirth, which also causes cramping.

coolidge effect

The shortening of the amount of time it takes for a man to be able to become erect again after orgasm by the appearance of a new potential sex partner. The name of this effect is based on one of the stories about President Calvin Coolidge and his wife, Grace, who were on different tours of the same farm in the Midwest. After learning that one rooster could have sex with a whole flock of chickens, Mrs. Coolidge sent a message to the president saying that it would be nice if he were as energetic as the rooster. President Coolidge responded by sending the First Lady a message in which he observed that the rooster seldom visited the same chicken twice.

copulation

Vaginal intercourse.

core gender identity

See “gender identity.”

corona

The edge of the glans of the penis.

corporal punishment

A form of discipline that inflicts pain on a person’s body — usually a child’s.

corpus cavernosa

Two strips of erectile tissue in the glans, shaft, and crura of the clitoris and along the sides of the penis that extend back into the pelvic floor. During sexual excitement, they fill with blood and become erect.

corpus luteum

A mass of cells that form on an ovary and produce testosterone following the release of an egg.

corpus spongiosum

Erectile tissue that forms the glans of the clitoris and penis. In the penis, it runs from the glans along the underside of the shaft, surrounding the urethra.

courtesan

A high-end, woman sex worker who has some social status.

courtship

The attempts of two people to attract each other, sexually and emotionally, often with a goal of establishing a relationship such as marriage. The way a courtship is carried out is influenced by cultural norms as well as by sexual instinct. Among all animals, including humans, courtship involves making signals by both individuals, for opposite-sex and same-sex relationships.

courtly love

A medieval tradition beginning in the 12th century in which the wives of noblemen were unattainable objects who were in charge of the relationships they had with bachelor knights. A forerunner of the concept of romantic love that later grew out of the 17th century.

couvade

Pregnancy symptoms experienced by the partner of a pregnant woman.

cowper’s glands

The glands beneath the prostate gland that are attached to the urethra. They produce a fluid — pre-ejaculate or pre-cum — that prepares the urethra for ejaculation. Pre-ejaculate also reduces friction in the urethra, making it easier for semen to pass through. Also called “bulbourethral glands.”

cremaster

The muscle that elevates the testicles as temperatures get colder or when the front or inner surface of the thigh is stimulated.

cremaster reflex

The automatic response of the cremaster muscle, which elevates both testicles when exposed to cold. In response to thigh stimulation, only the testicle next to the stimulated thigh will be elevated.

cross-dresser

A person who sometimes wears clothing associated with the opposite sex in order to have fun, entertain, gain emotional satisfaction, or make a political statement about gender roles — for example, drag kings and drag queens. See “transvestite.”

cross-living

Full-time (24/7) presentation of one’s self in the self-identified gender.

cross-sex hormone use

Taking medication to produce characteristics of a different gender.

cruising

Searching for a sex partner in public places.

crura

Internal extensions of the corpus cavernosa of the clitoris and penis that attach to the pubic bone.

cryotherapy

The removal of abnormal or unwanted tissue — warts and other growths — by freezing them.

cryptorchidism

A condition in which one or both testicles fail to descend into the scrotum within three months of birth.

cultural norm

An activity, belief, or value that is shared by members of a particular culture. Straying from cultural norms often results in ridicule, punishment, or banishment.

culture

The shared beliefs, values, heritage, customs, norms, art, food, language, and rituals of a community.

cum

Slang for "ejaculate."

cunnilingus

Use of the mouth, teeth, and/or tongue to stimulate the clitoris, vulva, and vagina.

curette

A small metal loop used to scrape tissue. Used in dilation and curettage.

cutting

Repetitive, self-inflicted cutting of the skin associated with being abused, gender dysphoria, depression, or dysmenorrhea. Some authorities consider it a defense against sexual desire as well as a way to satisfy sexual desire.

cushing syndrome

A condition associated with pituitary gland problems.

cvs (chorionic villus sampling)

A prenatal test that examines the tissue that attaches the fetus to the wall of the uterus. If indicated, usually performed between 10–12 weeks of pregnancy to detect certain birth defects.

cybersex

Receiving sexual stimulation using online media, the Internet, video cams, e-mail, or instant messaging.

cyberstalking

To track and follow someone’s online presence and communications in a threatening way.

cystitis

An infection of the bladder. Also called “urinary tract infection.”

cytomegalovirus (cmv)

An infection that may be transmitted through sexual or intimate contact or childbirth and that may cause permanent disability, including hearing loss and mental retardation for infants and blindness and mental disorders for adults.

christine jorgensen (1927–1989)

First highly publicized male to female transsexual in the U.S. Jorgensen’s example led to wider acceptance of transgender and transsexual women and men.

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D

d & c (dilation and curettage)

The use of a curette — a metal medical instrument with a narrow loop — to gently scrape the lining from the walls of the uterus, and the use of suction to remove tissue from the uterus. May also be used for abortion.

d & e (dilation and evacuation)

The use of medical instruments and suction to gently remove tissue from the uterus during an abortion.

d & s (dominance and submission)

Sexual role play that enacts fantasies of power and powerlessness.

date rape

Sexual contact that is forced during a dating relationship.

daughters of bilitis

Founded in 1955 by Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon, the first U.S. organization for lesbians.

declaration of sexual rights

Drafted by the World Association for Sexual Health and endorsed by the World Health Organization, the declaration includes these sexual rights:

deep kissing

Kissing that involves putting the tongue into a partner’s mouth. Also called “French kissing.”

delayed ejaculation

Commonly used term for a man’s difficulty in having an orgasm.

dental dam

A stretchable square of latex used as a barrier during certain dental procedures to keep particles from falling into the throat. Also used as a barrier for safer sex during cunnilingus — oral stimulation of the clitoris and vulva — and anilingus — oral stimulation of the anus.

depo-provera

The brand name of a progestin, DMPA (depot medroxyprogesterone acetate), that is injected into the buttock or arm every 12 weeks to prevent pregnancy. It is a reversible method of birth control available only by prescription.

depotmedroxyprogesterone acetate (dmpa)

Progestin found in Depo-Provera. Used for contraception. In larger doses, it is used for chemical castration.

depression

The feeling of great sadness that takes control over one’s life.

des (diethylstilbestrol)

An artificial hormone used to prevent miscarriage in the 1950s and '60s. It caused reproductive disorders and cancers in one out of 700–7,000 children of the women who wanted to protect them.

desire phase

The first stage of the sexual response cycle.

developmental disability

Cognitive or physical impairment that may begin at birth and is expected to last a lifetime.

diabetic vulvitis

A yeast infection caused by contact with urine that has the high sugar content associated with a woman with diabetes.

diaphragm

A soft rubber dome intended to fit securely over the cervix. Used with contraceptive cream or jelly, the diaphragm is a reversible barrier method of birth control available only by prescription.

diethylstilbestrol (des)

An artificial hormone used to prevent miscarriage in the 1950s and '60s. It caused reproductive disorders and cancers in one out of 700–7,000 children of the women who wanted to protect them.

dilation and curettage (d & c)

The use of a curette — a metal medical instrument with a narrow loop — to gently scrape the lining from the walls of the uterus, and the use of suction to remove tissue from the uterus. May also be used for abortion.

dilation and evacuation (d & e)

The use of medical instruments and suction to gently remove tissue from the uterus during an abortion.

dilators

A series of increasingly thick rods made of plastic, metal, or absorbent natural fiber that are used to stretch open the cervix.

dildo

A penis-shaped sex toy used to stimulate the vagina or anus.

diversity

The presence of many different kinds of people, including people of various abilities, ages, genders, racial and ethnic backgrounds, religions, sexual orientations, and social classes.

dmpa

Progestin found in Depo-Provera. The D stands for depot, the solution in which the hormone is suspended. The MPA stands for the hormone medroxyprogesterone acetate. Used for contraception. In larger doses, it is used for chemical castration.

doe v. bolton

The U.S. Supreme Court decision, issued on the same day as Roe v. Wade, that struck down restrictions on facilities that can be used for abortion services, which allowed them to be performed in clinics as well as hospitals.

domestic partnership

The committed, long-term relationship of two unmarried people who live together.

dominance and submission (d & s)

Sexual role play that enacts fantasies of power and powerlessness.

dominatrix

A woman sex partner who takes the dominating role in sex play that involves bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, or sadism and masochism. Some sex workers specialize in this role.

don juanism

The desire by a man to have sex very frequently with many different partners.

donor insemination

Placing semen in a woman’s vagina or uterus without vaginal intercourse to produce a pregnancy. Also called "alternative insemination."

double standard

Unequal expectations, moral standards, or rules that allow one group to have more privileges than another group within a society. A sexual double standard, for example, usually places more restrictions on women than on men.

douche

A spray of water or solution of medication into the vagina.

doula

A person who provides non-medical support for a pregnant woman, especially during labor and childbirth and for some time after. Most often, doulas are women, but there are also some qualified men who work as doulas.

down syndrome

A range of birth defects caused by the fetus having an extra copy of chromosome 21 (trisomy 21).

dowry

The payment, in money or property, that a bride’s family makes to the groom at the engagement or marriage of the couple. (No longer practiced in most Western cultures.)

drag

Exaggerated cross-dressing for entertainment.

dressing ring

In Victorian times, a ring of metal put through the glans of the penis. It attached to a hook inside the leg of a man’s trousers to keep the penis in place so it wouldn’t bunch up and interfere with the sleek line of the tailoring. See "Prince Albert."

dry days

Days in the menstrual cycle when little cervical mucus is produced.

dry humping

Body rubbing with clothing. See "frottage."

dry orgasm

Male climax without ejaculation.

dysmenorrhea

Pain or discomfort during or before menstruation.

dyspareunia

Painful vaginal intercourse for women that may be caused by hormonal imbalances. Most likely to happen after menopause.

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E

early ejaculation

Ejaculation that happens before a man wants it to. Also called “premature ejaculation.”

eclampsia

A condition that can threaten the life of women during the second half of pregnancy. It can include high blood pressure, fluid buildup, and too much protein in the urine, which can lead to convulsions and coma. Symptoms include bluish skin, dizziness, mental confusion, pains in the stomach, problems with eyesight, twitching muscles, and vomiting. Eclampsia can be prevented by careful monitoring of blood pressure and urine during prenatal care.

ectopic pregnancy

A life-threatening pregnancy that develops outside the uterus, often in a fallopian tube (tubal pregnancy).

egg

The reproductive cell in women; the largest cell in the human body.

eisenstadt v. baird

The 1972 U.S. Supreme Court decision that protects the right of unmarried people to use birth control.

ejaculation

The moment when semen spurts out of the opening of the urethra in the glans of the penis. See "female ejaculation."

ejaculatory inevitability

The moment during sexual excitement when a man cannot stop his ejaculation. It occurs when the prostate begins to contract and pulse out seminal fluid. Also called “point of no return.”

emancipated minor

A minor who has legal autonomy and usually lives on her or his own without financial support from parents or guardians.

embryo

The organism that develops from the pre-embryo and begins to share the woman’s blood supply about 16–18 days after fertilization (seven to eight days after implantation).

emergencycontraception

Hormonal birth control pills used to prevent pregnancy after unprotected vaginal intercourse. Must be started within 120 hours (five days) of intercourse. Also called EC. IUDs can also be used as EC, inserted within five days of unprotected intercourse to prevent pregnancy.

emotional incest

Relationship in which a parent treats her or his child emotionally as a spouse. The child comes to feel responsible for the parent’s feelings. Although sexual abuse may not take place, the child, when adult, may not be able to form sexual relationships with other people.

endogamy

Marrying within one’s own cultural, ethnic, kinship, or religious group.

endometriosis

The growth of endometrial tissue outside of the uterus, causing pain, especially before and during menstruation.

endometrium

The lining of the uterus that develops every month in order to nourish a fertilized egg. The lining is shed during menstruation if there is no implantation of a fertilized egg.

endorphin

A hormone that suppresses pain.

enovid

The brand name of the first birth control pill.

epididymis

The tube leading from the testis to the vas deferens in which sperm are stored before ejaculation. It is tightly coiled on top of and behind the testis. The plural of epididymis is epididymides.

epididymitis

An inflammation of the epididymis.

epidural

An injection of pain killers into the membrane surrounding the spinal cord that reduces pain during childbirth.

episiotomy

An incision from the bottom of the opening of the vagina through the perineum to facilitate childbirth and reduce damage to vaginal and perineal tissue.

equal rights amendment (era)

A proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution advanced by the National Women’s Party in 1923, which would have guaranteed that “equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.” The ERA’s long history ended in 1979 when it failed to be ratified by a full three-quarters of the states.

era (equal rights amendment)

A proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution advanced by the National Women’s Party in 1923, which would have guaranteed that “equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.” The ERA’s long history ended in 1979 when it failed to be ratified by a full three-quarters of the states.

erectile dysfunction

The inability to become erect or maintain an erection with a partner.

erectile tissue

Spongy tissue in the body that stiffens when filled with blood. See "vasocongestion."

erection

A “hard” penis when it’s becomes full of blood and stiffens.See "vasocongestion."

erogenous zone

Any area of the body that is sensitive to sensual touch.

erotic

Sexually arousing.

erotica

Sexually arousing imagery that is not considered pornographic, obscene, or offensive to the average person.

erotophilia

Appreciation of the erotic.

erotophobia

Fear of the erotic.

escort

A volunteer who helps women get safely into a reproductive health center during anti-choice demonstrations. Also, another word for a sex worker.

estrogen

A hormone commonly made in a woman’s ovaries. Estrogen’s major feminizing effects are seen during puberty, menstruation, and pregnancy.

estrus

The cyclic period of fertility and sexual receptivity in sub-primate female animals (vertebrates).

ethnocentric

The belief that one’s own country, culture, or ethnic group is superior to others’.

eugenics

A movement to improve the “fitness” of the human race by controlling who shall have and who shall not have children. So-called “positive eugenics” encouraged couples who were thought to be more fit to have more children. So-called “negative eugenics” discouraged couples who were thought to be less fit from having children.

eunuch

A man whose testicles, and less often, penis, have been removed.

eurotophobia

Fear of female sex organs.

excitement

The body’s physical response to desire and to stimulation. The second stage of the sexual response cycle.

exhibitionists

Women or men who expose their sex organs to other people without their consent, usually in public places.

exogamy

Marrying outside one’s own cultural, ethnic, kinship, or religious group.

external sex and reproductive organs

The sex organs and structures on the outside of the body that are primarily used during sexual activity. These include the vulva in a woman and the penis and scrotum in a man.

extramarital sex

Sexual intercourse by a married person with someone other than his or her spouse.

estrógeno

Hormona que comúnmente se produce en los ovarios de las mujeres. Los efectos del estrógeno que desarrollan las principales características femeninas se manifiestan durante la pubertad, la menstruación y el embarazo.

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F

fake orgasm

The pretense of having reached climax in order to end sex play or please a partner.

failure rate

The number of women who become pregnant each year out of every 100 who use a birth control method.

fallopian tube

One of two narrow tubes that carry the egg from the ovary to the uterus.

false negative

A test result that incorrectly indicates that the condition tested for is not present.

false positive

A test result that incorrectly indicates that the condition tested for is present.

family planning

Voluntary planning and action by individuals to have the number of children they want, when they want them.

fams (fertility awareness-based methods)

Ways to prevent or plan pregnancy by predicting ovulation based on understanding a woman’s fertility cycle. These are reversible behavioral methods of birth control that include the calendar method, the cervical mucus method, the Standard Days method, the Two-Days method, and the temperature method. All but the Standard Days method require careful, professional instruction.

fas (fetal alcohol syndrome)

Abnormalities that affect newborn children that are caused by alcohol use by women during pregnancy. They include damage to the brain, heart, and nervous system as well as physical malformation and below-normal IQ.

fantasy

Thinking about an experience, often sexual and/or sexually arousing. Most sexual fantasies are brief. For example, we might think for a few seconds about seeing a movie star naked. Other sexual fantasies are longer. For example, we may remember a sexual encounter we have had while we masturbate or have sex play with others.

feces

Solid waste that leaves the body through the anus.

fecundity

Technically, the physical ability of a woman or couple to have a child. Often used as a synonym for ”fertility.”

federal abortion ban

The federal law passed in 2003 that would ban abortion as early as 12 to 15 weeks in pregnancy. The federal ban includes no exception for the woman’s health and forces doctors to stop using procedures they believe are safest and best for their patients.

fellatio

Oral sex on a man.

female

The biological sex that provides the egg for sexual reproduction.

female circumcision

The practice of removing a girl’s clitoral hood, clitoris, and/or labia; often called female genital mutilation. This is practiced in some African, Near Eastern, and Southeast Asian cultures. In some cases, the vulva is sewn together to preserve virginity. See "infibulation."

female condom

A polyurethane pouch with flexible rings at each end that is inserted deep into the vagina like a diaphragm. It is an over-the-counter, reversible barrier method of birth control that provides protection against many sexually transmitted infections. Formerly called a vaginal pouch. May also be used for anal intercourse.

female ejaculation

The spurting of fluid out of the urethra during intense sexual excitement or orgasm. The fluid is most likely secreted by the Skene’s glands, which are located in the vulva near the opening of the urethra. Female ejaculation may be associated with stimulation of the G-spot and occurs in 1 out of 10 women.

female genital mutilation (fgm)

See "female circumcision."

female prostate glands

Term used by some authorities to describe the Skene’s glands in a woman’s vulva, which may secrete during female ejaculation a fluid similar to the fluid produced by the prostate gland in men.

female-to-male transsexual (f to m) (f2m) (ftm)

A person whose sex assignment at birth was female but whose gender identity is male. Also can refer to those surgically assigned female at birth, in the case of intersex people, whose gender identity is male. Often, female-to-male transsexuals will seek hormonal and/or surgical treatment in order to live successfully as men in society.

femcap / cervical cap

A silicone cup shaped like a sailor’s cap that fits securely in the vagina to cover the cervix. Used with contraceptive jelly, the FemCap is a barrier method of birth control that is reversible and available only by prescription.

feminine

Characteristics and ways of appearing and behaving that a culture associates with being a girl or a woman.

feminism

The belief that women and men have equal economic, political, sexual, and social rights. Also, the movement to secure equal rights for women.

fertility

The ability of women or couples to have children. Technically, the childbearing performance of individuals, couples, groups, or populations, i.e., the number of births they have.

fertility awareness-based methods (fams)

Ways to prevent or plan pregnancy by predicting ovulation based on understanding a woman’s fertility cycle. These are reversible behavioral methods of birth control that include the calendar method, the cervical mucus method, the Standard Days method, the Two-Days method, and the temperature method. All but the Standard Days method require careful, professional instruction.

fertility cycle

Also called the menstrual cycle. The monthly recurrence of ovulation, the shedding of the lining of the uterus, and the body’s preparation for another ovulation.

fertility rate

The number of live births per 1,000 women of reproductive age (15–44).

fertilization

The joining of an egg and sperm that forms the zygote.

fetal alcohol effects

Abnormalities caused by alcohol during pregnancy that may not be as severe as those associated with fetal alcohol syndrome.

fetal alcohol syndrome (fas)

Abnormalities that affect newborn children that are caused by alcohol use by women during pregnancy. They include damage to the brain, heart, and nervous system as well as physical malformation and below-normal IQ.

fetus

The organism that develops from the embryo at the end of about eight weeks of pregnancy (10 weeks since a woman’s last menstrual period) and receives nourishment through the placenta.

fgm (female genital mutilation)

See "female circumcision."

fibroid

A benign tumor that grows on the walls of the uterus.

fidelity

Strict observance of promises, especially of sexual faithfulness.

first trimester

The first three months of pregnancy.

fisting

The insertion of fingers or hand into the vagina or anus of a sex partner.

flashing

Exposing one’s breasts or sex organs as a prank or for sexual gratification. See "exhibitionists."

flirtation

Commonly used to refer to playfully romantic gestures between people who are sexually attracted to each other. In sexological terms, a five-stage ritual people use to begin courtship.

follicle

A cavity and sac in the ovary that contains a maturing egg.

follicle stimulating hormone (fsh)

Made by the pituitary gland, it stimulates the growth of the egg in women and the development of sperm in men.

fondling

Touching a partner to give sexual pleasure.

fordyce spots

Small, slightly bumpy yellowish or white papules or spots on the inside of the cheeks or lips, or on the glans or shaft of the penis, or the labia of the vulva. They are sebaceous glands and 50 to 100 may appear in one area. They are completely harmless, are not sexually transmitted, and are not infectious.

foreplay

Physical and sexual stimulation, kissing, rubbing, stroking, and touching that often happens in the excitement stage of sexual response. Foreplay often occurs before intercourse, but can lead to orgasm without intercourse, in which case it is called outercourse.

foreskin

A retractable tube of skin that covers and protects the glans (head) of the penis.

fornication

Outdated term for sex play between unmarried people.

free love movement

A 19th-century group that advocated the abolition of marriage and the equality and sexual freedom of women and men. Free-love advocates believed that sexual relations should be based on love, not on marriage.

frenulum

In women, the highly sensitive tissue where the inner labia join below the glans of the clitoris. In men, the highly sensitive, triangular piece of skin just below the glans of the penis.

frigidity

Outdated term for a woman’s lack of sexual desire or ability to experience orgasm.

frottage

Body rubbing without clothing. Also called “dry humping.”

fsh (follicle stimulating hormone)

Made by the pituitary gland, it stimulates the growth of the egg in women and the development of sperm in men.

ftm (f to m) (f2m) (female-to-male transsexual)

A person whose sex assignment at birth was female but whose gender identity is male. Also can refer to those surgically assigned female at birth, in the case of intersex people, whose gender identity is male. Often, female-to-male transsexuals will seek hormonal and/or surgical treatment in order to live successfully as men in society.

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G

gamete

The reproductive cell — egg or sperm.

gamete intrafallopian tube transfer (gift)

A method of alternative insemination in which an egg is taken from a woman’s ovary and placed with semen in one of her fallopian tubes.

gang bang

Sexual intercourse between one person, usually a woman, and a series of others, usually men, in rapid succession.

gang rape

Sexual assault committed by two or more people; also known as fraternity or party rape.

gay

Homosexual, especially in regard to men.

gay bashing

Physical or verbal assaults on people who are perceived to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender.

gay liberation movement

The national call to establish civil rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender women and men.

gay rights

The principle that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people are equal to straight people.

gender

One’s biological, social, and legal status as male or female.

gender assignment

The medical and legal description of one’s sex that is given at birth.

gender confirmation surgery

Interventions intended to alter the sex organs and/or secondary sex characteristics to conform to one’s gender identity. Also called “sex change operation,” “sex reassignment surgery,” and “genital reconstruction surgery.”

gender cues

Characteristics culturally associated with gender or sex, e.g., body movement, body shape, facial hair, gesture, grooming, hairstyle, makeup, vocal inflection, etc.

gender dysphoria

The conflict between one’s sexual anatomy and one’s gender identity.

gender identity

The innermost feelings about one’s sex (female or male), one’s gender, and one’s gender role.

gender identity disorder (gid)

A medical diagnosis of significant discomfort with one’s assigned sex, gender, and gender role.

gender normative

Conforming with social standards about what is appropriate feminine and masculine behavior.

gender norms

Social standards about what is appropriate feminine and masculine behavior.

genderqueer

An umbrella term for individuals who do not solely identify as a man or a woman. Some genderqueer individuals also identify as transgender.

gender role

Social norms about behaving as female or male. What one says or does as an expression of one’s sex as female, male, intersex, or genderqueer.

gender scripting

The socialization process by which one is conditioned to adopt certain attitudes, behaviors, and preferences considered appropriate for one’s gender, either feminine or masculine.

gender stereotype

Exaggerated expectations of the way people of a certain sex should behave.

genderstraight

See "gender normative."

gender variant

Nonconformity to gender norms.

genes

Structures in the chromosomes of cells that carry hereditary information.

genitals

External sex and reproductive organs: the vulva in women, the penis and scrotum in men. Sometimes, the internal reproductive organs are also called genitals.

genital herpes

An infection of herpes simplex virus types 1 or 2 in the area of the anus, buttocks, cervix, penis, vagina, or vulva. Very often there are no symptoms, while the most common symptom is a cluster of blistery sores.

genital reconstruction surgery (grs)

Sometimes referred to as “genital reassignment surgery” “gender confirmation surgery,” or “bottom” or “lower” surgery. For MTFs, this is usually the removal of the testes and the surgical creation of a vagina and clitoris. For FTMs, this is usually the construction of a penis from the client’s own tissue. Scrotal implants may or may not be added during these procedures.

genital warts

Soft, flesh-colored growths caused by a several types of the human papilloma virus. They may look like miniature cauliflower florets and are usually painless, but may itch.

genophobia

Fear of sex play.

gestation

The period of a pregnancy.

gestational age

The time in a woman’s pregnancy measured from the start of her last menstrual period.

gid (gender identity disorder)

A medical diagnosis of significant discomfort with one’s assigned sex, gender, and gender role.

gift (gamete intrafallopian tube transfer)

A method of alternative insemination in which an egg is taken from a woman’s ovary and placed with semen in one of her fallopian tubes.

gigolo

A male sex worker who provides social and/or sexual companionship for women.

glans

The soft, highly sensitive tip of the clitoris or penis. In men, the opening to the urethra is located in the glans. Also called the “head” of the penis.

golden shower

Slang for urinating on a partner for sexual pleasure.

gonadotropins

Hormones secreted by the pituitary gland that triggers puberty by stimulating the ovaries of women and the testes of men.

gonads

The organs that produce reproductive cells — the ovaries of women, the testes of men.

gonorrhea

A sexually transmitted bacterium that can cause sterility, arthritis, and heart problems.

gräfenburg spot (g spot)

An area of tissue, located about one-third of the way along the upper wall of the vagina. Stimulation of the G spot leads to intense sexual arousal and orgasm in some women, and is also associated with female ejaculation.

grs (genital reconstruction surgery)

Also called “genital reassignment surgery” “gender confirming surgery,” “sex change operation,” or “bottom” or “lower” surgery. For MTFs, this is usually the removal of the testes and the surgical creation of a vagina and clitoris. For FTMs, this is usually the construction of a penis from the client’s own tissue. Scrotal implants may or may not be added during these procedures.

g spot (grafenburg spot)

An area of tissue, located about one-third of the way along the upper wall of the vagina. Stimulation of the G-spot leads to intense sexual arousal and orgasm in some women, and is also associated with female ejaculation.

guiche

A metal ring about one inch in circumference that is inserted into the perineum, between the vulva and the anus, or between the scrotum and the anus, for increased sexual stimulation during intercourse.

gymnophobia

The fear of being seen naked.

gynecology

Sexual and reproductive health care for women.

gynecologist

A medical doctor who specializes in women’s sexual and reproductive health.

gynecomastia

A usually temporary condition during puberty in which the breasts of boys become larger and appear more feminine.

gynophobia

Fear of women.

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H

havelock ellis (1859–1939)

English author of Studies in the Psychology of Sex (1903–28). Until 1935, Ellis’s Studies, which argued that erotic dreams, foreplay, and masturbation were normal, were legally available only to medical professionals. He believed that birth control was the key to sexual liberation. He believed sex to be natural and good, and asked, “Why … should people be afraid of rousing passions, which, after all, are the great driving forces of human life?” Ellis was an important mentor to Margaret Sanger.

hand job

Slang for manually stimulating a partner’s sex organ.

harem

The women’s quarters of a Muslim home. Also, a group of women sex partners for one man.

hbv (hepatitis b virus)

An infection that can be sexually transmitted and may cause severe liver disease and death.

health care provider

A medical doctor, nurse, nurse practitioner, nurse-midwife, or physician assistant.

heavy petting

Fondling a partner’s sex organs or breasts.

hedonism

The worship of pleasure.

he-man

A man who is exceptionally masculine.

hepatitis b virus (hbv)

An infection that can be sexually transmitted and may cause severe liver disease and death.

hermaphrodite

A rare condition in which someone is born with both female and male sex organs. “Intersex” is now the preferred term.

herpes

An infection of herpes simplex virus types 1 or 2 in the area of the anus, buttocks, cervix, mouth, penis, vagina, or vulva. Very often there are no symptoms, while the most common symptom is a cluster of blistery sores.

herpes simplex virus (hsv)

An infection of herpes simplex virus types 1 or 2 in the area of the anus, buttocks, cervix, mouth, penis, vagina, or vulva. Very often there are no symptoms, while the most common symptom is a cluster of blistery sores.

heterosexism

The belief that everyone is or should be heterosexual.

heterosexual

Someone who has sexual desire for people of the other gender.

high-risk pregnancy

A pregnancy that is at increased risk of complications for the woman or her fetus.

hijra

A caste of male-to-female transsexuals in northern India and Pakistan.

hirsutism

Hair growth that is believed to be too much and/or in the wrong place.

hiv (human immunodeficiency virus)

An infection that weakens the body’s ability to fight disease and can cause AIDS.

homoerotic

Arousing same-sex love, desire, and/or sexual activity.

homophobia

Fear of people who are gay, lesbian, or bisexual.

homosexual

Someone who has sexual desire for people of the same gender.

honeymoon cystitis

A bladder infection (UTI) in a woman that is caused by frequent vaginal intercourse — for example, during a honeymoon.

hormonal contraceptives

Prescription methods of birth control that use hormones to prevent pregnancy. These include the implant, the Mirena IUD, the patch, the pill, the ring, and the shot.

hormones

Chemicals that cause changes in our bodies and influence how glands and organs work.

horny

Slang for having sexual desire — wanting to have sex — or for being sexually aroused.

hot flashes / hot flushes

Sudden or gradual waves of body heat that last from 30 seconds to five minutes. Common in perimenopause and menopause.

hpv (human papilloma virus)

Any of more than 100 different types of infection, some of which may cause genital warts. Others may cause cancer of the anus, cervix, penis, throat, or vulva.

hsv (herpes simplex virus)

An infection of herpes simplex virus types 1 or 2 in the area of the anus, buttocks, cervix, mouth, penis, vagina, or vulva. Very often there are no symptoms, while the most common symptom is a cluster of blistery sores.

humanae vitae

“On Human Life,” a document written by Pope Paul VI in 1968 that forbade the use of contraception.

human immunodeficiency virus (hiv)

An infection that weakens the body’s ability to fight disease and can cause AIDS.

human papilloma virus (hpv)

Any of more than 100 different types of infection, some of which may cause genital warts. Others may cause cancer of the anus, cervix, penis, throat, or vulva.

hustler

A male sex worker, usually employed by men.

hyde amendment

A 1977 legislative restriction, first sponsored by Rep. Henry Hyde (R-IL), that forbade the use of federal funds to pay for abortion services.

hydrocele

An accumulation of fluid in a testicle.

hymen

A thin fleshy tissue that stretches across part of the opening to the vagina.

hyperfemininity

The exaggeration of gender-stereotyped behavior that is believed to be feminine.

hypermasculinity

The exaggeration of gender-stereotyped behavior that is believed to be masculine.

hyperphilia

Having sex more often than most people.

hypersexual

Having more libido (sexual desire) than most people.

hypoactive sexual desire

The lack of sexual desire.

hypophilia

Having sex very infrequently, or not at all.

hyposexual

Having less libido (sexual desire) than most people.

hypothalamus

A small area in the brain that controls sexual response and other basic functions.

hysterectomy

The surgical removal of the uterus.

hysteria

A mythical emotional disorder ascribed only to women for about 2,500 years. In ancient Greece, it was ascribed to not being pregnant often enough. In Roman times, it was ascribed to not having enough sex. In Medieval times, and colonial times in North America, it was ascribed to not having enough or sufficient orgasms. In Victorian times and during the early 20th century, it was also ascribed to too much intellectual stimulation and became an excuse for denying education and voting rights to women. At the beginning of the 20th century, U.S. doctors invented the vibrator to treat hysteria. They brought women to orgasm with vibrators, which would supposedly calm them down and keep them from becoming hysterical. See "wandering uterus."

hysteroscope

A long, thin tool that lets a health care provider see inside a woman’s uterus.

hysteroscopic tubal sterilization

A non-incision method for permanent birth control in which microinserts are placed in the fallopian tubes, causing scar tissue to grow and block the tubes. The brand name of the microinserts is “Essure.”

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I

idiopathic hypogonadotropic hypogonadism (ihh)

A rare syndrome in which male infants are normal at birth and throughout childhood, but do not experience the surge of testosterone necessary to enter puberty. Unless treated with hormones, their testicles will not mature and they will remain infertile. It is thought that James Barrie, the author of Peter Pan, may have had IHH.

illegitimate

Having unmarried parents. (Outdated and offensive.)

immune system

The body’s natural protection against infection and disease.

implanon

The brand name ofa contraceptive implant. A thin, flexible plastic implant about the size of a cardboard matchstick. It is inserted under the skin of the upper arm. It contains and constantly releases a progestin that prevents ovulation and fertilization. Can be used for up to three years to prevent pregnancy. The implant is a reversible hormonal method of birth control available only by prescription.

implant

A thin, flexible plastic implant about the size of a cardboard matchstick. It is inserted under the skin of the upper arm. It contains and constantly releases a progestin that prevents ovulation and fertilization. Can be used for up to three years to prevent pregnancy. The implant is a reversible hormonal method of birth control available only by prescription. Implanon is the brand name of theimplant.

implantation

The attachment of the pre-embryo to the lining of the uterus, which begins about six days after fertilization and is complete in three to four days. The beginning of pregnancy.

impotence

The inability to have an erection. ”Erectile dysfunction” is now the preferred term.

incest

Sexual activity between members of the same family.

in-clinic abortion

A termination of pregnancy that is done with instruments in a health center, doctor’s office, or hospital. In the first trimester, suction alone is often used. Later in pregnancy, other instruments are used, as well. See "aspiration abortion," "dilation and curettage," "dilation and evacuation," "manual vacuum aspiration," and "vacuum aspiration abortion."

incomplete abortion

A kind of miscarriage in which some pregnancy tissue passes out of the uterus but some stays inside. Can also occur following a pregnancy termination procedure. Sometimes treatment is needed to remove the remaining tissue.

incontinence

Being unable to control urination or defecation. Sometimes also used to describe difficulty controlling sexual impulse.

indecent exposure

Illegal, public display of body parts, usually breasts, buttocks, or sex organs. Also called “flashing.”

induced abortion

The intentional termination of pregnancy.

induced menopause

Menopause caused when both ovaries are removed surgically or damaged by radiation or chemotherapy.

inevitable miscarriage

Miscarriage that is certain to happen because of bleeding and an open cervix.

infant mortality rate

Number of deaths of infants under one year of age per 1,000 live births.

infatuation

Impulsive, usually short-lived, emotional, and erotic attachment to another person.

infertility

The inability to become pregnant or to cause a pregnancy.

infibulation

The most severe form of female circumcision, it includes clitoridectomy and the sewing together of the outer labia to cover the opening to the vagina.

infidelity

Failing to keep a promise to be monogamous.

inhibited orgasm

The inability to have an orgasm.

inhibited sexual arousal

The inability to become sexually aroused and enjoy sex play, despite one’s sexual desire. In women, often the inability to lubricate enough for sex play. In men, the inability to have or keep an erection.

inhibited sexual desire

The lack of sexual desire.

inhibition

Feeling restraint due to fear or guilt.

inner lips

The labia of the vulva that surround the clitoris and the openings to the urethra and vagina. Also called "labia minora."

insemination

Putting sperm into the reproductive tract of women or female animals.

intact penis

A penis with a foreskin, uncircumcised. Most often used by opponents of circumcision to suggest that circumcised men are not “intact.”

intercourse

Sex play in which the penis is inserted into the vagina (vaginal intercourse) or the anus (anal intercourse).

interfemoral intercourse

Sex play in which the penis is moved between the partner’s thighs. Also called "intercrural intercourse."

intermarriage

Marriage between people of different races.

internalized homophobia

The fear of homosexuality within one’s self.

internal sex and reproductive organs

The organs inside the body that are responsible for producing, moving, and nourishing human reproductive cells. Internal reproductive organs that are sensitive or respond to sexual stimulation are also called sex organs.

intersex

The condition of being born with external sex organs that are not easily distinguishable as female or male. Also, later in life, the development of secondary sex characteristics that are not easily distinguishable as female or male. About one in 2,000 people is born with an intersex condition in the U.S. each year. Sometimes a female or male gender is assigned through surgery. Up to five infant gender-assignment surgeries occur every day in the U.S. Some people believe surgery should be postponed until intersex people are old enough to decide for themselves whether they would like their genitals to be operated on. Most people agree that babies with intersex conditions should be assigned a gender at birth. Some people believe that assigning a gender means performing surgery on their genitals, while others believe that a baby can be assigned a gender without surgery. Used in the past, the term “hermaphrodite” is now considered offensive. Some intersex people are transgender, but intersex does not necessarily mean transgender, and vice versa.

intimate partner violence (ipv)

Emotional, verbal, physical, or sexual abuse in the context of an intimate relationship. Also called "domestic violence," "partner abuse," "relationship abuse," "dating violence," and "marital and date rape."

intimacy

The closeness and familiarity we feel as we share our private and personal selves with someone else.

intrauterine device (iud)

A small device made of plastic, which may contain copper or a natural hormone, that is inserted into the uterus by a health care provider to prevent pregnancy. A reversible method of birth control available only by prescription.

intrauterine system (ius)

A small intrauterine device made of plastic, which contains the hormone progestin, that is inserted into the uterus by a health care provider to prevent pregnancy. A reversible method of birth control available only by prescription. The brand name of the IUS is Mirena.

introitus

The tissue of the inner vulva that frames the opening to the vagina.

in vitro fertilization (ivf)

Any method of assisted reproduction in which fertilization takes place outside the body.

ipv (intimate partner violence)

Emotional, verbal, physical, or sexual abuse in the context of an intimate relationship. Also called "domestic violence," "partner abuse," "relationship abuse," "dating violence," and "marital and date rape."

iud (intrauterine device)

A small device made of plastic, which may contain copper or a natural hormone, that is inserted into the uterus by a health care provider to prevent pregnancy. A reversible method of birth control available only by prescription.

ius (intrauterine system)

A small intrauterine device made of plastic, which contains the hormone progestin, that is inserted into the uterus by a health care provider to prevent pregnancy. A reversible method of birth control available only by prescription. The brand name of the IUS is Mirena.

ivf (in vitro fertilization)

Any method of assisted reproduction in which fertilization takes place outside the body.

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J

jaundice

Yellowing of eyes, skin, and mucus membranes due to diseases of the liver.

jealousy

Anxiety about a partner's love and commitment.

jock itch

A very common fungal skin infection in the genital area of men that is caused by wearing tight clothing, sweating, or not drying the genitals carefully after bathing. It can cause a reddish, scaly rash that can become inflamed, very itchy, and painful.

john harvey kellogg (1852–1943)

Inventor of granola and corn flakes to compete with the Graham cracker as a cure for moral degeneracy and sexual passion. In his book, Plain Facts, Kellogg advocated a variety of extreme parental and medical interventions, including removal of the clitoris, to put a stop to masturbation.

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K

katharine bement davis (1860–1945)

Completed the first major study on women’s sexuality, Factors in the Sex Lives of Twenty-Two Hundred Women, which was published in 1929. She gathered data for more than 10 years about the sex lives of middle-class women. Also worked with sex workers in prison. She looked at sexual desire, masturbation, frequency of intercourse, use of birth control, marriage, sources of sexual instruction and information, and same-sex intimate relationships. Her study challenged the narrow reproductive view of women’s sexuality that was common at the beginning of the 20th century. It was our first real glimpse into the sex lives of real women.

kama sutra

An ancient sex manual first put into writing in the second century BCE. Offers insights into the spiritual aspects of sexuality as well as techniques and positions for increased sexual pleasure. The first English translation was published by Sir Richard Burton in 1883.

kegel exercises

The tightening and releasing of the muscles that stop urination in order to prevent and improve urinary incontinence, improve sexual sensation in women and men, and aid recovery of vaginal muscle tone after childbirth. Because they exercise internal muscles, Kegels can be done anywhere, anytime.

kink / kinky

Slang for uncommon sexual behavior.

kinsey scale

Alfred Kinsey and his associates designed a scale in the late 1940s and early 1950s to demonstrate the range of sexual orientation. The seven points on the scale show the range of sexual orientation that people reported in Kinsey's surveys. Kinsey used the word heterosexual to describe people who desire sex with people of the other gender. He used homosexual to describe people who desire sex with people of the same gender.

klinefelter’s syndrome

An intersex condition in which the external male sex organs are undersized due to an individual having one Y and two X chromosomes.

koro

Social panic experienced by some men in Africa, China, and Malaysia that is based on the belief that others can use magic to cause one’s sex organs to retract into the body and disappear. The cause may be guilt associated with masturbation. Victims call on family and friends to help prevent the disappearance of their sex organs.

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L

labia majora

The outer lips of the vulva.

labia minora

The inner lips of the vulva.

labor

The process of childbirth, from contractions of the uterus and dilation of the cervix to delivery of the infant and expulsion of the placenta.

lactational amenorrhea method (lam)

Breastfeeding as birth control for up to six months after childbirth.

lactobacilli

Bacteria present in healthy vaginas of women. They help prevent vaginitis by limiting the growth of candida, a yeast.

lam (lactational amenorrhea method)

Breastfeeding as birth control for up to six months after childbirth.

laparoscope

A rod-like instrument with a light and viewing lens. Often used for tubal sterilization procedures.

laparoscopy

A very common method of tubal sterilization that involves an injection of harmless gas to help see the reproductive organs and a small incision near the navel to allow the positioning of a laparoscope and an instrument that is used to block the fallopian tubes.

laparotomy

A method of tubal sterilization that involves major surgery, requiring a two- to five-inch abdominal incision through which the fallopian tubes are located and blocked.

leep

The loop electrosurgical excision procedure, which removes abnormal tissue from the cervix by cutting it away with a thin wire loop that carries an electric current.

lesbian

A homosexual woman.

lesbophobia

Fear of women who are lesbian.

lesophobia

Fear of strong women.

leukorrhea

A white, yellow, or greenish, sticky vaginal discharge that is normal during adolescence, pregnancy, and other times when a woman’s hormone levels are changing.

levonorgestrel

A synthetic progestin similar to the hormone progesterone, which is produced by the body to regulate the menstrual cycle. Used in certain birth control pills, the Mirena IUD, and Plan B emergency contraceptives.

lgbtq

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning.

lgv (lymphogranuloma venereum)

A form of chlamydia, most common in tropical regions. Increasingly found in the U.S.

libido

The sex drive.

limbic system

The area of the brain that controls anger, fear, ovulation, pleasure, rage, and sexual arousal.

limerence

A powerful and constantly distracting and obsessive infatuation; lovesickness.

lingam

Hindu name for the penis. Hindus worship statues of the lingam made of wood, metal, or stone. Men wear symbols of the lingam as sexual amulets to promote sexual potency.

lobes

Groups of alveoli sacs in women’s breasts.

long-term reorganization phase

The second phase of rape trauma syndrome, in which the survivor tries to regain control of life.

love

A strong caring for someone else. It comes in many forms. There can be love for romantic partners and also for close friends, for parents and children, for God, and for humankind.

lovemap

The blueprint for one’s adult sexual appreciations and preferences that develops while one is growing up.

low birth weight

A condition of less than 5.5 pounds when born. Such an infant is at risk of bleeding, breathing, heart, and other problems.

lubricant

In women, the slippery liquid that is secreted from the walls of the vagina and the Bartholin’s glands during sexual arousal in order to facilitate vaginal intercourse. In men, the slippery liquid secreted by the Cowper’s glands in order to facilitate ejaculation and motility of sperm. Also, an oil-based, water-based, or silicone-based product used to increase slipperiness during anal or vaginal intercourse or other sex play.

lumpectomy

The removal from the breast of a malignant growth that has not metastasized (spread to other parts of the body).

lust

The desire for sexual pleasure. (Some find this word offensive.)

luteinizing hormone (lh)

One type of gonadatropin, a hormone secreted by the pituitary gland. Triggers ovulation in women and the production of testosterone in men.

lymphocele

A small swelling caused by the collection of lymphatic fluid. May occur on the penis.

lymphogranuloma venereum (lgv)

A form of chlamydia, most common in tropical regions. Increasingly found in the U.S.

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M

michel foucault (1926–1984)

Foucault was a French philosopher who wrote three volumes on the history of sexuality. He challenged Freud’s view that women and men are sexually repressed by their cultures. He theorized about the role of power in sexual relationships. He suggested that power does not always come from the top down, but from the bottom up, as well. He believed that people have sexual power as individuals, despite sexual law or cultural norms. Although his ideas were not always based in scientific or historical fact, Foucault’s work enabled many people who belonged to oppressed sexual minorities to view themselves as powerful individuals, capable of resisting dominant sexual norms.

magnus hirschfeld (1868–1935)

German sexologist who founded the Institute of Sexual Science in Berlin in 1919. He studied human sexuality in order to provide counseling for sexual problems. He published one of the world’s first sexological journals to encourage open debate about sexual issues. He challenged many of the repressive ideas about sexuality of this time. His institute, library, and research were destroyed by the Nazis in 1935.

machismo

The mystique of masculinity in Latin American cultures that is centered on men who are aggressive, courageous, risk-taking, and virile, as well as casual and domineering in their relationships with women.

madonna complex

A sexual inhibition in which men separate sexual desire from love. They are only able to have sex with women they perceive as “whores” while being unable to have sex with women they love and perceive as “good,” e.g., their wives.

male menopause

Andropause, the gradual decline in sexual vigor as men age, due to decreasing levels of testosterone. Similar to menopause in women.

male-to-female transsexual (mtf) (m2f)

A person whose sex assignment at birth was male but whose gender identity is female. Also can refer to those surgically assigned male at birth, in the case of intersex people, whose gender identity is female. Often, male-to-female transsexuals will seek hormonal and/or surgical treatment in order to live successfully as women in society.

mammary glands

Organs in a woman’s breasts that produce milk.

mammogram

X-ray photographs of the breasts that can detect cancerous tumors before they can be felt.

manual sex play

Providing sexual stimulation with one’s hands. Mutual manual pleasure is often and incorrectly referred to as “mutual masturbation.”

manual vacuum aspiration (mva)

An in-clinic, early abortion procedure in which the uterus is emptied with the gentle suction of a hand-held syringe.

marianismo

The belief in Latin American cultures that women have a special affinity with the Virgin Mary that makes them more pure and virtuous than men, as well as morally superior.

marital rape

Forced sexual intercourse within marriage.

marriage

The socially and legally recognized ceremony and union of a couple as spouses.

masculine

Characteristics and ways of appearing and behaving that a culture associates with being a boy or a man.

mastectomy

The removal of a breast.

mastitis

An inflammation of the breast.

masturbation

Touching one’s own body and sex organs for sexual pleasure.

maternal mortality

The death of a woman during or shortly after pregnancy.

mattachine society

Founded in 1951, the first equal rights organization for homosexual women and men.

medication abortion / medical abortion

The use of a combination of drugs to end and expel a pregnancy. Also called the “abortion pill.”

megan’s law

Federal and state laws that require police to notify citizens of the presence of convicted sex offenders in their communities.

ménage à trois

Three people in a sexual encounter or relationship.

menarche

The time of a girl’s first menstruation.

menopause

The time at “midlife” when menstruation stops; a woman’s last period; usually occurs between the ages of 45 and 55. “Surgical” menopause, however, results from removal of the ovaries, and may occur earlier.

menorrhagia

Menstrual bleeding that is heavier or longer lasting than usual.

menses

The discharge during menstruation.

menstrual cup

A latex or silicone receptacle that fits over the cervix to collect menstrual flow.

menstrual cycle

The time from the first day of one period to the first day of the next period. In women of reproductive age, about 15–44, it is the period in which the lining of the uterus is shed whenever implantation does not happen, followed by the re-growth of the lining of the uterus in preparation for implantation.

menstrual extraction

An early form of abortion in which gentle suction is used to remove the lining of the uterus and pre-embryo or embryo within two or three weeks of fertilization. (Outdated.)

menstrual flow

Blood, fluid, and tissue that are passed out of the uterus during the beginning of the menstrual cycle. Often called a “period.”

menstrual synchrony

Women having their periods at the same time because they live closely together.

menstrual suppression

The use of hormonal treatments — usually birth control pills — to prevent having a period.

menstruation

The flow of blood, fluid, and tissue out of the uterus and through the vagina that usually lasts from 3 to 7 days.

merkin

A wig for the genitals, used from the 16th to the 18th centuries by people who had lost their pubic hair due to small pox or scarlet fever. Now used to describe decorative patches worn over the genitals.

metastasize

To spread from one part of the body to another, as in cancer.

method effectiveness

The reliability of a contraceptive method itself, when always used consistently and correctly.

methotrexate

One of the medications that can be used with misoprostol for medication abortion.

metoidioplasty

In genital reconstruction surgery, the process of freeing up the enlarged clitoris from connective tissue to serve as a penis (the clitoris is typically elongated and changes somewhat from testosterone therapy).

micropenis

Men’s sex organs small enough to be considered abnormal.

midwife

A person trained to assist a woman during childbirth.

mifepristone

The most common medication used for medication abortion. Commonly known as “the abortion pill.” The brand name in the U.S is Mifeprex.

mikveh

The ritual purification performed by Jewish women a week after menstruation or childbirth. Usually a bath of spring or rain water.

milk ducts

The passages in women’s breasts through which milk flows from the alveoli to the nipple.

mini-laparotomy

A very common method of tubal sterilization that involves making a small incision on the lower abdomen through which the fallopian tubes can be located and blocked.

mini-pills

Birth control pills that contain only the hormone progestin. More correctly called “progestin-only pills.”

miscarriage

The loss of a pregnancy before 20 weeks gestation — before the embryo or fetus can live outside the uterus. Also called "spontaneous abortion" or "early pregnancy loss." One to two of every 10 pregnancies end in miscarriage, and 8 out of 10 happen in the first three months of pregnancy. Causes include abnormal chromosome, abnormalities in the uterus, certain severe chronic illnesses, severe trauma, very serious infections.

miscegenation

Marriage or sexual relations between people of different races. (Outdated and offensive.)

misogyny

Extreme fear and hatred of women.

misoprostol

A medication that is used to treat ulcers and to complete a medication abortion that has been induced with mifepristone, the abortion pill. Although less effective than mifepristone, misoprostol is used alone for abortion in some countries.

missed abortion

A kind of miscarriage. The pregnancy ends, but the tissue remains in the uterus. Usually the tissue eventually comes out of the uterus on its own, but treatment is sometimes needed.

missionary position

The position for vaginal intercourse in which the man lies on the woman, face-to-face. Taught to non-Christians by missionaries who believed that all other positions for sex play were sinful because they might provide more pleasure than necessary for procreation and because men must display their dominance over women at all times, including sex play.

mittelschmerz

Abdominal pain associated with ovulation in some women.

molar pregnancy

The uncommon development of placental tissue without an embryo or fetus.

molluscum contagiosum

A virus that can be sexually transmitted, causing small, pinkish-white, waxy, round, polyp-like growths in the genital area or on the thighs.

mooning

Exposing one’s buttocks to other people.

monogamy

A relationship in which both people date or have sex only with one another and no one else. There are several kinds of monogamous relationships:

mons veneris

The fleshy, triangular mound above the vulva that is covered with pubic hair in adult women. It cushions the pubic bone.

morning after pills

Emergency hormonal contraception that is started within 120 hours (five days) of unprotected vaginal intercourse to decrease the risk of unintended pregnancy.

morning sickness

Nausea and vomiting when they are symptoms of pregnancy.

morning wood

Slang for the erection men often have when they wake up. Men have several erections at night as part of their sleep cycle. Very often, when they wake up, they are still erect. Also called “nocturnal penile tumescence.”

morula

The pre-embryo when it is composed of 16–32 cells.

mtf (m2f) (male-to-female transsexual)

A person whose sex assignment at birth was male but whose gender identity is female. Also can refer to those surgically assigned male at birth, in the case of intersex people, whose gender identity is female. Often, male-to-female transsexuals will seek hormonal and/or surgical treatment in order to live successfully as women in society.

mucus method

The cervical mucus method, a fertility awareness-based method for predicting a woman’s fertility by observing changes in her cervical mucus. Can be used for contraception or for planning a pregnancy.

müllerian ducts

Two structures in the embryo that develop into the female reproductive tract.

multiparous

Having given birth more than once.

multiple marker screening

A prenatal blood test at around 16 weeks of pregnancy to detect Down syndrome, brain and spine defects, and other defects. (Further tests will be offered if this blood test reveals an increased risk of birth defects.) Alsocalled a “triple test” or “quadruple test.”

multiple orgasms

The occurrence of more than one orgasm within a short time.

mut 'a

A tradition of some Muslims that allows a man to pay a woman to join him in a temporary marriage in order to have sex.

mutual masturbation

Sex play in which two or more people masturbate in each other’s presence.

myths

Unfounded or false stories or ideas.

margaret sanger (1883–1966)

Founder of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Margaret Sanger began her career as a nurse who fought to legalize birth control in order to prevent women from relying on dangerous, illegal, self-induced abortions. Sanger established the first birth control clinic in the U.S. in 1916. In 1948, she helped found the International Planned Parenthood Federation. In the 1950s, Sanger drove the research and development of the birth control pill. One of the world’s leading sex educators, Sanger convinced people around the world that they held these four basic human rights:

marie carmichael stopes (1880–1958)

Opened the first British birth control clinic in 1921. One of her books, Married Love, was declared obscene by the U.S. Customs in 1921 because it described the cycles of women’s sexual desire.

mary wollstonecraft (1759–1797)

Author of the first feminist manifesto, A Vindication of the Rights of Women. She was also the mother of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, who wrote Frankenstein.

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N

narcissistic

Having no empathy for others; preoccupied with oneself.

natural childbirth

Using little or no medication during labor and delivery while reducing pain by reducing fear and tension, exercising and training abdominal and uterine muscles beforehand, and using relaxed breathing during labor and childbirth.

natural family planning

Fertility awareness-based methods of contraception. (Inaccurately suggests that other methods are “unnatural.”)

necrophilia

A paraphilia in which a person needs the presence of a dead body in order to be sexually aroused.

negative result

A test finding that indicates that the condition tested for is not present.

neonatal

Regarding the first four weeks of infancy.

neurula

Developing from the blastocyst, the pre-embryonic stage of a pregnancy during which the neural tube develops, which then marks the beginning of the embryonic stage of development.

ngu (non-gonococcal urethritis)

An inflammation of the urethra that is not caused by gonorrhea — often caused by chlamydia.

nidation

Implantation, the attachment of the pre-embryo to the lining of the uterus, which begins about six days after fertilization and is complete in three to four days. The beginning of pregnancy.

night courting

Bundling, a custom in colonial North America that allowed an unmarried young woman and man to sleep together, usually with a “bundling board” running the length of the bed between them, or with the young woman enclosed in a “bundling bag” that reached up to her armpits.

nipple

The dark tissue in the center of the areola of each breast in women and men that can stand erect when stimulated by touch or cold. In a woman’s breast, the nipple may release milk that is produced by the breast.

nocturnal emission

A wet dream; sexual arousal and ejaculation while sleeping, which most often occurs among young men during adolescence or older men who are sexually abstinent.

nocturnal orgasm

A sexual climax during sleep.

nocturnal penile tumescence (npt)

Spontaneous erection during sleep that occurs among healthy men from birth through old age. NPT usually occurs about two or three times a night, lasting for a total of two or three hours.

non-gonococcal urethritis (ngu)

An inflammation of the urethra that is not caused by gonorrhea — often caused by chlamydia.

non-op / non-operative

Transgender people who have not had, and may not desire, gender reconstruction surgery, and may or may not seek hormonal treatment. Cross-living or other expressions of gender identity are sufficient for many transwomen and transmen who feel no need for surgical reconstruction.

nonoxynol-9

A chemical that immobilizes sperm that is used in most spermicides in the U.S.

nonparous

Having never given birth.

norgestrel

A kind of progestin used in some hormonal contraceptives.

normal

Typical, conforming to accepted standards. Being different is normal.

normophilia

Sexual preferences that are considered common or “normal” according to social norms.

norplant

A contraceptive system of six small, soft capsules containing the hormone levonorgestrel that are inserted under the skin of the upper arm. A reversible method of birth control that is no longer available in the U.S.See "Implanon."

npt (nocturnal penile tumescence)

Spontaneous erection during sleep that occurs among healthy men from birth through old age. NPT usually occurs about two or three times a night, lasting for a total of two or three hours.

nuchal translucency test / nuchal fold test

A screen for Down syndrome and other abnormalities using ultrasound to measure the fold of skin on the neck of a fetus.

nuclear family

A family whose members are limited to two generations:parents and their children.

nudism

Practice of being naked socially for health reasons.

nulliparous

Having never given birth.

nuptial

Regarding marriage.

nurse-midwife

A registered nurse who has special training to assist women during childbirth.

nurse practitioner

A registered nurse who has special training to provide primary health care, including many services performed by doctors.

nuvaring

The brand name of a ring that contains hormones and is inserted in the vagina to prevent pregnancy. NuvaRing is a reversible hormonal method of birth control available only by prescription. Also called “the ring.”

nymphomania

An excessive desire by a woman to have sex very frequently with many different partners. (Outdated and offensive.)

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O

obscenity

Sexually arousing imagery that is considered socially offensive.

obstetrician

A doctor who is especially trained to provide care to women during pregnancy and childbirth.

oedipal conflict

The Freudian theory that children have an unconscious sexual attachment to the parent of the other gender, causing them to be hostile toward the parent of the same gender. Also called “Oedipal Complex.”

onanism

Commonly, but incorrectly, used to refer to masturbation. In the Torah or Old Testament, Onan practiced withdrawal when ordered by God to make his brother’s widow pregnant. God struck Onan down for “spilling his seed on the ground” and not making her pregnant. Christian theologians have used the story to corroborate their condemnation of masturbation.

one-night stand

Slang for having sex with people right after meeting them and not seeing them again.

oocyte

An immature ovum, egg.

oophorectomy

Surgical removal of an ovary.

open marriage / open relationship

The union of two people who agree that they can have other sex partners.

oral contraceptive

The birth control pill.

oral herpes

An infection of the mouth with herpes simplex virus 1 or herpes simplex virus 2.

oral sex

Sex play involving the mouth and sex organs.

orchitis

Inflammation of a testicle.

orchiectomy

The surgical removal of one or both testicles. Usually performed to treat cancer or for genital reconstruction surgery.

orgasm

The peak of sexual arousal when all the muscles that were tightened during sexual arousal relax, causing a very pleasurable feeling that may involve the whole body. The fourth stage of the sexual response cycle.

orgasmic dysfunction

The inability to reach orgasm from sex play with or without a partner.

orgy

Sex play among three or more people.

ortho evra

Ortho Evra is a reversible hormonal method of birth control available only by prescription. Also called “the patch.”

osteoporosis

Thinning of the bones, which makes them more susceptible to fracture.

out

Being open about one’s own sexual orientation, intersex, or transgender status.

outing

Revealing someone else’s sexual orientation, intersex, or transgender status.

outercourse

Sex play that does not include inserting the penis in the vagina or anus.

outer lips

The labia that surround the inner lips of the vulva. Also called"labia majora."

ovarian cyst

A growth on an ovary, usually small, fluid-filled, and not cancerous. May cause abdominal pain or irregular periods. Most often resolves on its own.

ovaries

The two organs that store eggs in a woman’s body. Ovaries also produce hormones, including estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone.

over-the-counter

Available without a prescription.

oviduct

Fallopian tube,one of two narrow tubes that carry the egg from the ovary to the uterus.

ovulation

The time when an ovary releases an egg.

ovulation method

Cervical mucus method, a fertility awareness-based method for predicting a woman’s fertility by observing changes in her cervical mucus. Can be used for contraception or for planning a pregnancy.

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P

painful intercourse

The inability to have sexual intercourse without experiencing pain. In women, may result from lack of lubrication, infection, allergy, or psychological fears about intercourse and/or vaginal penetration. See also "vaginismus," and "dyspareunia." In men, may be caused by genital deformity or spinal cord injury.

pap test

A procedure used to examine the cells of the cervix in order to detect abnormal, precancerous, or cancerous growths. It is also called a Pap smear.

paragard / copper t-380 a

An IUD that contains copper and can be left in place for up to 12 years.

paraphilia

A sex practice that becomes necessary for sexual arousal but is not approved by social norms. Some paraphilias are

parental consent

A requirement that one or both parents give permission for a minor child to receive medical attention or to enter into a legal contract. Many states have mandatory parental consent laws regarding abortion services for minors.

parous

Having given birth.

parthenogenesis

The development of an unfertilized egg into an organism.

parturition

Childbirth.

passing

Succeeding at being perceived as the gender with which one identifies regardless of sex assignment at birth. Some transpeople object to the term “passing,” because it may suggest that one is being taken for what one is not. “Being read as a man” or “being read as a woman” is preferred.

passionate love

Powerfully intense feelings of erotic attachment.

pearl necklace

Slang for ejaculate spilled onto a person’s neck or chest.

pearly pink papules / pearly penile papules

Tiny bumps that ring the edge of the head of the penis in 1 out of 3 men. Flesh-colored or a little lighter, they are shaped like smooth little domes. Although they may be sensitive to touch, they are not harmful and are not sexually transmitted. They can be removed with laser treatment.

pediculosis

An infestation of pubic lice: pediculus pubis. Also known as “crabs.”

peer pressure

Efforts by friends or colleagues to urge an individual to behave in a way that is acceptable to them.

pelvic exam

A physical examination of the vulva, vagina, cervix, uterus, and ovaries — usually includes taking cervical cells for a Pap test and a manual exam of the internal pelvic organs.

pelvic girdle

The bony and muscular structure inside a woman’s body that supports her internal sex and reproductive organs.

pelvic inflammatory disease (pid)

An infection of a woman’s internal reproductive system that can lead to sterility, ectopic pregnancy, and chronic pain. It is often caused by sexually transmitted infections, such as gonorrhea and chlamydia.

pelvic tuberculosis

A rare, chronic bacterial infection of a woman's reproductive organs. Can cause infertility.

penis

A man’s reproductive and sex organ that is formed of three columns of spongy tissue — two corpora cavernosa and the corpus spongiosum. The spongy tissue fills with blood during sexual excitement, a process known as erection. Urine and seminal fluid pass through the penis.

perfect use

The effectiveness of a particular contraceptive method for women and men who always use it consistently and correctly. See "typical use."

performance anxiety

Fear of being unable to please a sex partner.

perimenopause

The period of change leading to menopause.

perinatal

Around the time of childbirth.

perineum

The area between the anus and the vulva or scrotum.

period

Menstruation.

periodic abstinence

Not having vaginal intercourse during the “unsafe days” of a woman’s fertile phase in order to prevent pregnancy.

pessary

A device inserted into the vagina to treat a prolapsed uterus. Old types of pessaries were used as barrier birth control methods.

petri papyrus

Written in Egyptian hieroglyphs nearly 4,000 years ago, the first description of a contraceptive: a pessary composed of fiber, honey, and crocodile dung.

petting

Outercourse.

peyronie’s disease

A rare condition that is caused by fibrous growths inside the penis.

phallic

Shaped like a penis.

phallophobia

Fear of the penis.

phalloplasty

In genital reconstruction surgery, the construction of a penis from the person’s own genital tissue.

pharonic circumcision

A drastic form of clitoridectomy in which the labia are sewn together over the openings to the vagina and urethra.

pheromones

Odors given off by animals, including humans, to attract others sexually.

phimosis

A condition in which the foreskin of the penis is too tight to be pulled back.

phone sex

Sexually arousing telephone conversations in which people fantasize about having sex with each other and masturbate.

physician assistant

A health care provider who is trained to provide basic medical services, usually under the supervision of a physician.

physical fitness

A condition of good health that results from healthful foods, exercise, and regular medical checkups.

pid (pelvic inflammatory disease)

An infection of a woman’s internal reproductive system that can lead to sterility, ectopic pregnancy, and chronic pain. It is often caused by sexually transmitted infections, such as gonorrhea and chlamydia.

pill, the

A common expression for oral hormonal contraception.

pimp

The usually exploitive manager of a sex worker.

pitching a tent

Slang for having an erection. It comes from the way pants or bed sheets look when the erect penis, like a tent pole, pushes them up and out.

pituitary gland

Located under the brain, the organ that produces hormones that regulate growth, reproduction, and sexual activity.

placenta

The organ formed on the wall of the uterus by the developing embryo that provides oxygen and other nourishment from the woman to her fetus and through which waste products are eliminated from the fetus.

plan b

The brand name for oral hormonal emergency contraception: the “morning after pill."

plateau

The stage of sexual arousal in which a person has been sexually excited and may approach orgasm. The third stage of the sexual response cycle.

platonic

Not sexual.

pms (premenstrual syndrome)

Emotional and physical symptoms that appear a few days before and during menstruation, including depression, fatigue, feeling bloated, and irritability.

point of no return

Ejaculatory inevitability, the moment during sexual excitement when a man cannot stop his ejaculation. It occurs when the prostate begins to contract and pulse out seminal fluid.

polyamory

The ongoing sexual and emotional relationship among three or more people.

polyandry

The marriage of one woman to more than one man.

polycystic ovary syndrome

Various symptoms that result from small benign growths on the ovaries, including lack of menstruation, excessive body hair, and infertility.

polygamy

Having more than one spouse.

polygyny

The marriage of one man to more than one woman.

polyps

Small benign growths (tumors) that are common in the uterus and on the cervix or throat.

pornography

Erotic imagery or language that is considered by an average person to be obscene and offensive.

positive result

A test finding that indicates that the condition tested for is present.

post-exposure prophylaxis

Medication provided immediately after possible exposure to a sexually transmitted infection, including HIV, which is intended to prevent infection.

post-ovulation method

A fertility awareness-based method of birth control using abstinence or barrier methods from the beginning of menstruation until the morning of the fourth day after predicted ovulation — more than half of the menstrual cycle.

postpartum

The first few weeks after childbirth.

postpartum depression

Depression in a woman following childbirth.

postpartum psychosis

Severe postpartum depression that may include withdrawal from reality, delusions, hallucinations, and, in some cases, murderous attacks on the newborn.

pre-cum

Slang for pre-ejaculate, ­the liquid that oozes out of the penis during sexual excitement before ejaculation; produced by the Cowper’s glands. Does not contain sperm, but may pick up sperm remaining in the urethra from previous ejaculations.

pre-eclampsia

An abnormal development during pregnancy that includes fluid buildup, high blood pressure, and protein deposits in the urine of the woman. The complications may include brain hemorrhage, eye damage, heart problems, fetal malnutrition, low birth weight, and death.

pre-ejaculate

The liquid that oozes out of the penis during sexual excitement before ejaculation; produced by the Cowper’s glands. Does not contain sperm, but may pick up sperm remaining in the urethra from previous ejaculations. Also called “pre-cum.”

pre-embryo

The organism that starts developing at fertilization when the zygote is formed by the joining of an egg and a sperm. It attaches to the lining of the uterus after about seven days. It continues to develop until it forms an embryo, 9 to 11 days later. Up to 50 percent of all pre-embryos pass out of a woman’s body before a pregnancy is established.

pregnancy

A condition in which a woman carries a developing offspring in her uterus. It begins with the implantation of the pre-embryo and progresses through the embryonic and fetal stages until birth, unless it is ended by miscarriage or abortion. It lasts about nine months from implantation to birth. If clinically measured from a woman’s last menstrual period, it lasts 10 months.

premarital sex

Sex play between people before marriage.

premature delivery

Early childbirth. Occurs from the 20th week to the 37th week of pregnancy.

premature ejaculation

Ejaculation occurring before a man wants it to occur — often before his partner reaches orgasm.

premenstrual syndrome (pms)

Emotional and physical symptoms that appear a few days before and during menstruation, including depression, fatigue, feeling bloated, and irritability.

prenatal vitamin

Multivitamins designed to support a healthy pregnancy.

prenuptial agreement

A contract made by a couple before marriage that spells out the division of property in case of divorce.

prepuce

Foreskin.

preputial glands

The organs that secrete a fluid that combines with bacteria and body oils to form smegma. Several are located under the foreskin and clitoral hood. Others are located under the corona of the glans of the penis and on either side of the frenulum. Also called Tyson’s glands.

priapism

A prolonged and painful erection of the penis without sexual stimulation that is caused by too much blood flow into the corpus cavernosa.

primary sex characteristics

Body organs and reproductive structures and functions, which differ between women and men. The differences include the external and internal sex and reproductive organs. It also includes a woman’s ability to produce eggs and a man’s ability to produce sperm.

primary syphilis

The first stage of infection during which an open sore called a chancre develops.

primogeniture

The tradition in which the eldest, “legitimate,” surviving son is the only heir of his father.

prince albert

A metal ring, one inch in diameter, used to pierce the glans of the penis for increased stimulation during intercourse. Said to be worn by Albert, consort of Queen Victoria of England. See "dressing ring."

pro-choice

The belief that women have the right to make their own decisions about whether or when to have a child.

procreative sex

Having vaginal intercourse for the purpose of having a child.

progestasert

An IUD containing natural hormones that must be replaced every year. (No longer available in the U.S.)

progesterone

A hormone produced in the ovaries of women that is important in the regulation of puberty, menstruation, and pregnancy.

progestin

A synthetic progesterone.

prolapsed uterus

A condition in which a woman’s uterus sags or slips out of its normal position into the vagina. Caused by weakened pelvic muscles. Most common in postmenopausal women who have given birth.

promiscuous

Being casual and indiscriminate about having sex play with partners. (Often considered offensive.) Alfred Kinsey once said that promiscuous people are the ones who have “more sex than you think they should.”

prophylactic

A device or treatment used to prevent infection; the condom.

prostaglandins

Hormones that are used to induce uterine contractions for childbirth or abortion.

prostate

A gland the size of a golf ball that is located below the bladder in men and produces a fluid that helps sperm move. Very sensitive to the touch — “the male G-spot.”

prostatitis

An enlargement and inflammation of the prostate gland that results in a dull persistent pain in the lower back, glans of the penis, scrotum, and testes. There may also be a thin mucus discharge from the penis, especially in the morning.

prostitute

A sex worker. (Often considered offensive.)

prostitution

The act of providing sex for pay.

psychology

The study of the mind and its processes.

psychosocial

Involving a combination of psychological and social factors.

puberty

The time between childhood and adulthood when girls and boys mature physically and sexually — when a girl is becoming a woman and a boy is becoming a man. Puberty is marked by changes such as breast development and menstruation in girls and facial hair growth and ejaculation in boys.

pubic hair

Hair that grows around the sex organs of women and men. Pubic hair is a secondary sex characteristic that appears during puberty.

pubic lice

Tiny insects that can be sexually transmitted. They live in pubic hair and cause intense itching in the genitals or anus.

puppy love

A brief but intense romantic infatuation during pre-adolescence and adolescence.

purdah

The custom of some Muslim societies and the choice of some individual Muslim women to be fully veiled when in public in order to remain unseen by all men except close relatives.

puritans

Early American Protestant colonists who established English laws and social and sexual mores in the northeastern United States. Though actually less sexually restrictive than commonly believed, the Puritan is now the symbol of sexual suppression.

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Q

queef

The sound made when air is released from the vagina. Air is often pushed into the vagina during vaginal intercourse or penetration with tampons, fingers, or sex toys.

queer

An umbrella term for a variety of uncommon sexualities, including lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people, and some people with intersex conditions. Queer has been used as a slur. Some members of sexual minorities still find it offensive, but some now use it themselves as a term of pride. Therefore, it is best to find out if people describe themselves as queer before applying that label to them.

quickening

The time when a woman first notices the fetus moving in her uterus. (Outdated.)

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R

rape

Coerced sexual intercourse.

rape trauma syndrome

The emotional and physical consequences experienced after being sexually assaulted.

rapid orgasm

An orgasm experienced by a woman before her partner climaxes, at which time she loses interest in sex.

reality-based sexuality education

Age-appropriate, culturally sensitive sexuality education programs that include open, nonjudgmental information about all aspects of sexuality; they encourage critical thinking, self-actualization, and behavioral changes through the empowerment of holistic knowledge about birth control, the body, gender role, relationships, safer sex, sex, and so on, by being realistic about people’s lives. Also called "comprehensive sex education."

real life test (rlt)

A period of time in which a transsexual person cross-lives before beginning the medical gender reassignment process. The RLT is required under the Harry Benjamin Standards of Care, but other standards of care do not require RLTs. Individual mental health and medical professionals may use discretion when determining if an RLT is necessary.

recreational sex

Sex play with a partner that is not procreative and has limited intimacy or emotional involvement.

rectovaginal exam

A physical examination of the reproductive organs and the tissues that separate the vagina and rectum.

rectum

The lowest end of the intestine before the anus, where solid waste (feces) is stored.

refractory period

The time after ejaculation during which a man is not able to have an erection.

reproductive cell

A unique cell — egg in women, sperm in men — that can join with its opposite to make reproduction possible.

reproductive organs

In women: the fallopian tubes, ovaries, uterus, and vagina. In men: the penis, prostate, and testes.

resolution

The period after orgasm in which the body returns to a non-stimulated state. The last stage in the sexual response cycle.

retarded ejaculation

A commonly used term for a man’s inability to have an orgasm.

retrograde ejaculation

A condition in which a man ejaculates from the prostate into the bladder.

rh factor

The presence of certain proteins on the surface of red blood cells. It occurs in most people. People with Rh factor are said to be “Rh positive,” and people without it are said to be “Rh negative.” If a fetus has Rh factor and the woman does not, her immune system will develop antibodies that will destroy fetal blood, which can harmthe fetus in any future pregnancies and cause death.

rhythm method

Outdated name for what is now called the calendar method of fertility awareness.

right-to-life

An expression that anti-choice people use to describe being anti-choice. The expression has limited meaning because it does not encompass a woman’s right to life, only that of the embryo or fetus she carries.

roe v. wade

The 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide.

role-play

Acting out a fantasy with a partner.

romantic love

An idealized love relationship that often is as unrealistic as it is passionate. In courtship, romance may have elements of flattery, excitement, and the feeling of being “swept away,” as in a fairy tale.

ru-486

The laboratory research code number that was used during clinical trials for a medication to cause abortion. (Outdated and inaccurate. Correct term is mifepristone.)

rugae

The folds of tissue in the walls of the vagina.

rut

The period of sexual arousal in many male animals that is a response to estrus.

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S

sigmund freud (1856–1939)

Influential psychoanalyst who believed that we must understand human sexuality if we are to understand human nature. He understood that children have strong sexual feelings and believed that we are all bisexual.

sylvester graham (1794–1851)

American advocate of sexual abstinence, who developed a diet of cold cereals and “Graham” crackers designed to curb sexual desire and eradicate masturbation.

sadomasochism (s & m)

The consensual use of domination and/or pain for sexual stimulation in sex play. The “sadist” is the partner who dominates and inflicts pain. The “masochist” is the partner who is dominated and receives pain.

safer sex

Ways in which people reduce the risk of getting sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. A more precise term than “safe sex,” because no sex play is completely safe from the risk of sexually transmitted infections.

safe word

A previously agreed upon spoken signal that means a partner is no longer enjoying an activity during S & M play and it must stop.

s&m (sadomasochism)

The consensual use of domination and/or pain for sexual stimulation in sex play. The “sadist” is the partner who dominates and inflicts pain. The “masochist” is the partner who is dominated and receives pain.

sanitary pad

An absorbent “napkin” made of cotton or similar fibers that is worn against the vulva to absorb menstrual flow.

sar (sexual attitude reassessment)

An intensive and interactive multimedia workshop that illustrates the full range of sexual behaviors and improves personal and professional communication about them.

satyriasis

The desire by a man to have sex very frequently and with many different partners.

scabies

Tiny mites that can be sexually transmitted. They burrow under the skin, causing intense itching, usually at night, and small bumps or rashes that appear in dirty-looking, small curling lines, especially on the penis, between the fingers, on buttocks, breasts, wrists, and thighs, and around the navel.

scoptophobia

Fear of being seen naked.

script theory

The idea that sexual preferences develop from early childhood experiences in one’s culture, especially with one’s family, parents, peers, and teachers of religion.

scrotum

A sac of skin, divided into two parts, enclosing the testes, epididymides, and parts of the vasa deferentia.

secondary sex characteristics

Features of the body that are caused by hormones, develop during puberty, and last through adult life. For women, these include breast development and widened hips. For men, they include facial hair development. Both genders develop pubic hair and underarm hair.

secondary syphilis

The second stage of the infection, during which a rash and fever develop.

second trimester

The second three months of pregnancy.

secret vice

Masturbation. (Outdated slang.)

self-abuse

Masturbation. (Outdated slang.)

self-esteem

Self-respect; feeling worthwhile.

self-love

Masturbation.

self-pleasuring

Masturbation.

self-pollution

Masturbation. (Outdated slang.)

semen

Fluid containing sperm that is ejaculated during sexual excitement. Semen is composed of fluid from the seminal vesicles, fluid from the prostate, and sperm from the testes.

seminal fluid

A fluid that nourishes and helps sperm to move. Made in the seminal vesicles.

seminal pool

The hollow space that opens beneath the cervix during the plateau and orgasm stages of the sexual response cycle in order to accept semen. See "tenting."

seminal vesicle

One of two small organs located beneath the bladder and connected to the urethra that produce seminal fluid.

seminiferous tubules

A network of tiny tubules in the testes that constantly produce sperm. Seminiferous tubules also produce androgens, the “male” sex hormones.

sensate focus

Communicating through touch to increase sexual pleasure and reduce performance anxiety.

septic abortion

A spontaneous or induced abortion that becomes complicated by infection. Usually associated with illegal and unsafe abortion, aggressive medical treatment is often required to save the life of the woman.

serial monogamy

A lifestyle in which a person has only one partner at a time, but more than one in the course of a lifetime.

seroconversion

The change in one’s status regarding test results for infection, from being negative to becoming positive.

seropositive

Test results that show infection is present.

sex

A person’s biological identification as female, male, or intersex. Also, the act of sex play.

sex addiction

The compulsive search for having very frequent sex that interferes with activities of daily life, such as work, school, and spending time with family and friends.

sex addicts anonymous

A support group that helps members overcome compulsive sexual behavior. See "sex addiction," "sexual compulsion," and "Sexual Compulsives Anonymous."

sex assignment

The designation of biological sex — female, male, or intersex — usually made by a physician at the birth of a child. The sex recorded on person’s birth certificate.

sex cell

A reproductive cell.

sex change operation

Interventions intended to alter the sex organs to conform to one’s gender identity. For MTFs, this is usually the removal of the testes and the surgical creation of a vagina and clitoris. For FTMs, this is usually the construction of a penis from the client’s own tissue. Scrotal implants may or may not be added during these procedures. Also called “genital reconstruction surgery.”

sex chromosomes

The cell structures carrying hereditary information that differentiate female from male in humans and other mammals. Females have a pair of X chromosomes. Males have one X chromosome and one Y chromosome.

sex drive

Our natural urge and desire to have sex. Also called “libido.”

sex flush

The temporary reddening or darkening of the skin that may happen from sexual arousal during the plateau stage of the sexual response cycle. It may occur on the abdomen, breasts, face, hands, and soles of the feet.

sexism

Bias against a certain gender, especially against women.

sex-negative

Believing that sex and sexuality are destructive forces in human life.

sexologist

One who is professionally trained in the field of human sexuality.

sexology

The scientific study of sex and sexuality through many disciplines including, but not limited to, anthropology, biology, history, law, medicine, psychology, and sociology.

sexophobia

Fear of anything to do with sex.

sex play

Any voluntary sexual activity, with or without a partner.

sex-positive

Accepting sex and sexuality as constructive forces in human life.

sex reassignment surgery (srs)

Interventions intended to alter the sex organs and/or secondary sex characteristics to conform to one’s gender identity. For MTFs, SRS usually includes vaginoplasty and/or orchiectomy. Breast augmentation / implants may or may not be included. For FTMs, several surgical procedures are involved, including chest reconstruction surgery, hysterectomy / oophorectomy, and different types of genital reconstruction surgery (GRS). Many FTMs undergo chest surgery, but not GRS. Some have chest surgery and a hysterectomy, but not GRS. Some have all three procedures (which may include more than three surgeries because GRS can often involve several surgical procedures). Both MTFs and FTMs may be unable to afford any surgery at all, yet live successfully as women or men in society through ongoing hormone treatment. The requirements for changing the legal documentation of one’s gender vary from state to state, and often depend on the amount and type of surgery or hormone therapy one has had. A few states will not allow a change in legal documentation no matter how much surgery or treatment one has had.

sex role

See "gender role."

sex selection

The attempt to control the sex of offspring.

sex surrogate

The member of a sex therapy team who fulfills the therapist’s suggested sensory exercises by serving as the client’s partner, teaching the social and sexual skills that are needed. The International Professional Surrogates Association regulates the professional standards and ethics of its sex surrogate members.

sex therapy

Treatment to resolve a sexual problem or dysfunction, such as premature ejaculation, inability to have orgasm, or low level of sexual desire.

sexting

Using a cell phone to send a sexy text message or image — often of oneself.

sexual abuse

Sexual activity that is harmful, exploitative, or not consensual.

sexual addiction

The condition of needing to have sex so frequently that it interferes with activities of daily living, such as going to work or school or fulfilling other responsibilities. See "Sex Addicts Anonymous," "sexual compulsion," and "Sexual Compulsives Anonymous."

sexual arousal

Erotic excitement.

sexual assault

The use of force or coercion, physical or psychological, to make a person engage in sexual activity.

sexual attitude reassessment (sar)

An intensive and interactive multimedia workshop that illustrates the full range of sexual behaviors and improves personal and professional communication about them.

sexual aversion disorder

Fear of sexual contact.

sexual compulsion

An obsession with having very frequent sex, often with many different sex partners. See "Sex Addicts Anonymous," "sexual addiction," and "Sexual Compulsives Anonymous."

sexual compulsives anonymous

A 12-step, self-help recovery group for women and men who want to control their sexual addictions. See "Sex Addicts Anonymous," "sexual addiction," "sexual compulsion."

sexual conflict

The clash between sex drive and sexual inhibition.

sexual desire

A strong, physically arousing attraction; the need for sexual intimacy and sex play.

sexual discomfort

Feelings of sexual inhibition that are not as severe as dysfunctions.

sexual disorder

A psychological or physical dysfunction that affects fertility or sexual anatomy, behavior, or health.

sexual dysfunction

A psychological or physical disorder that affects fertility or sexual anatomy, behavior, or health.

sexual harassment

Unwanted sexual advances with suggestive gestures, language, or touching.

sexual health

Enjoying emotional, physical, and social well-being in regard to one’s sexuality, including free and responsible sexual expression that enriches one’s personal and social life and fulfills one’s sexual rights. (Sexual health is not only the absence of sexual dysfunction or disease.) See "Declaration of Sexual Rights."

sexual identity

Feelings about one’s own sex, gender, gender role, and sexual orientation.

sexual inhibition

The suppression of sexual desire.

sexual intercourse

Usually, sex play that includes penetration of the vagina with a penis, but also describes penile penetration of the anus.

sexuality

A person’s gender, gender role, gender identity, sexual orientation, sexual preference, and the way they affect emotional, physical, social, and spiritual life. Sexuality is shaped by family and the social norms of the community.

sexual liberation

The shift of a society from repressive, sex-negative sexual attitudes to more accepting and sex-positive sexual attitudes.

sexually transmitted disease (std)

A sexually transmitted infection that has developed symptoms. Also called "sexually transmitted infection."

sexually transmitted infection (sti)

An infection that is usually passed from one person to another during sexual or intimate contact. Also called "sexually transmitted disease."

sexual minority

An individual or group who is considered outside socially accepted norms regarding gender identity, sexual behavior, sexual orientation, or sexual preference.

sexual mores

A society’s attitudes, customs, and expectations regarding sex and sexuality. For example, one of the sexual mores in the U.S. is that boys are allowed more sexual freedom than girls.

sexual norms

Social standards derived from a society’s attitudes, customs, and expectations regarding sex and sexuality. For example, one of the sexual norms in the U.S. is that women and men have only one sex partner at a time.

sexual orientation

The term used to describe whether a person feels sexual desire for people of the opposite gender, same gender, or both genders. People who feel sexual desire for members of the other gender are heterosexual, or straight. People who feel sexual desire for people of the same gender are homosexual, or gay. Gay women are called lesbians. People who are attracted to both genders are bisexuals.

sexual preference

An erotic attraction to particular types of people, behaviors, and stimuli.

sexual repression

The social or familial suppression of sexual activities, ideas, or identities that are perceived to be harmful or morally wrong.

sexual response cycle

The pattern of human response to sexual stimulation. The five stages of the cycle are desire, excitement, plateau, orgasm, and resolution.

sexual rights

See "Declaration of Sexual Rights."

sexual revolution

Used to describe two different historic shifts in the sexual attitudes and norms of people in the U.S. The first American sexual revolution occurred in the aftermath of World War I — “the roaring '20s.” It was characterized by younger women — “flappers” — openly insisting on the right to have sex before marriage. The second American sexual revolution occurred during the 1960s and '70s. It was accompanied by the women’s and gay liberation movements, which were entwined with the civil rights movement. The sexual revolution of the '60s and '70s was exemplified by the emergence of a generation of openly sexually active adolescents and college students and by a broad acceptance of the idea that women and men can enjoy sex as a recreational activity outside of committed relationships.

sexual selection

In Darwin’s theory of evolution, this is the term for the female animal’s choice of partner(s) from a large group of potential mates, based on the sexual characteristics of the males — longest tail, brightest color, most antlers, etc. According to Darwin, sex characteristics that inspire sexual selection, like the peacock’s tail, evolve even though they may diminish an individual’s chances of survival.

sexual stereotype

An overly simplified, but generally accepted, judgment or bias regarding the sexuality of a person or group.

sexual taboo

Any behavior, relationship, symbol, or word related to sex and sexuality that a society forbids because it is a gross violation of social or religious norms. One of the most prevalent sex taboos worldwide is directed against incest. Another widespread taboo is directed against having contact with menstruating women.

sex worker

One who is paid for providing sex or sexually arousing conditions, including commercial phone sex, erotic massage, lap dancing, prostitution, and striptease.

shaft

A structure of erectile tissue and nerves that is shaped like a column and forms the body of the penis and the clitoris.

shame

Feeling embarrassed or humiliated because of a lack of ability or from being discovered doing some forbidden thing. Often associated with sex and sexuality.

sheer glyde dam

A rectangle of latex approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for safer oral/genital, oral/anal sex play.

signs of pregnancy

The most common signs of pregnancy include frequent urination, headaches, inexplicable fatigue, a missed period, nausea, and sore or enlarged breasts. The most common symptom is a missed period. But many women, especially young women, normally have irregular periods. These irregularities may include missed periods and other changes in the menstrual cycle. Such irregularities can change from month to month.Although pregnancy is the most common reason for missing a period, irregularity is also caused by illness, travel, worry, or stress.

sildenafil

A medication used to treat erectile dysfunction. One brand name is Viagra.

situational homosexuality

Same-sex sex play among individuals who are not gay but have no heterosexual alternative — for example, people in same-sex boarding schools, communities, prisons, or summer camps, or same-sex crews on ships or other vehicles for long voyages.

sixty-nine / 69

Simultaneous, mutual oral sex play.

skene’s glands

Two glands that gush fluid during female ejaculation. They are located on opposite sides of the opening to a woman’s urethra. Also called paraurethral glands or female prostate glands.

slut

An insulting term for a woman who has more than one sex partner. Increasingly used to describe men who have more than one sex partner. See "double standard."

smegma

A sticky, white, unpleasant-smelling substance produced under the foreskin at the glans of the penis and clitoris. It is formed by secretions from the Tyson’s glands, bacteria, and body oils.

social hygiene movement

The movement that emerged from the social purity movement in the early 1900s to fight the spread of sexually transmitted infections.

social purity movement

The successful movement in the U.S. of the late 1800s and early 1900s that opposed the legalization of prostitution and supported raising the age of consent for sexual intercourse.

social stigma

Severe disapproval for behavior that is not within cultural norms.

sodomy

Oral sex, anal intercourse, or other genital contact that is not vaginal intercourse. (Outdated.)

solitary vice

Masturbation. (Outdated slang.)

somatotropin

The human growth hormone secreted by the pituitary gland.

sonogram

A picture of the fetus in the uterus produced by the visualizing technology called ultrasonography.

spectatoring

The habit of thinking about, comparing, grading, and monitoring one’s own sexual performance while having sex.

speculum

A plastic or metal instrument used to separate the walls of the vagina so the health care provider can examine the vagina and cervix.

speculum exam

The physical examination of the walls of the vagina and cervix that is accomplished by using a speculum.

sperm

The reproductive cells in men, produced in the seminiferous tubules of the testes.

spermarche

The time when sperm is first produced by the testes of a boy.

spermatogenesis

The process of producing sperm. Occurs in the seminiferous tubules of the testes.

spermicides

Chemicals used to immobilize sperm.

spina bifida

A birth defect that exposes the spinal cord, causing severe disorders of the nervous system.

spirochete

The organism that causes syphilis.

spontaneous abortion

Miscarriage, early pregnancy loss.

spontaneous erection

The hardening of the penis without sexual fantasy or other stimulus. Usually occurs often during early adolescence.

spooning

Slang for a certain way of cuddling. Both people lay on their sides with one person lying in front of the other — stomach to back. Lying in this position resembles two spoons stacked together.

spotting

Usually, light bleeding between menstrual periods, which may only be seen on toilet tissue after wiping. Normal spotting is associated, for example, with ovulation, the use of some hormonal methods of birth control, the onset of menstruation, and perimenopause. Though not always abnormal, spotting during pregnancy or after vaginal intercourse should be discussed with one’s health care provider. It can be a sign of endometriosis, uterine fibroids, vaginal adhesions or polyps, or cancer.

spouse

A partner in marriage.

squeeze technique

A method for postponing early ejaculation.See "stop-start technique."

srs (sex reassignment surgery)

Interventions intended to alter the sex organs and/or secondary sex characteristics to conform to one’s gender identity. For MTFs, SRS usually includes vaginoplasty and/or orchiectomy. Breast augmentation / implants may or may not be included. For FTMs, several surgical procedures are involved, including chest reconstruction surgery, hysterectomy / oophorectomy, and different types of genital reconstruction surgery (GRS). Many FTMs undergo chest surgery, but not GRS. Some have chest surgery and a hysterectomy, but not GRS. Some have all three procedures (which may include more than three surgeries because GRS can often involve several surgical procedures). Both MTFs and FTMs may be unable to afford any surgery at all, yet live successfully as women or men in society through ongoing hormone treatment. The requirements for changing the legal documentation of one’s gender vary from state to state, and often depend on the amount and type of surgery or hormone therapy one has had. A few states will not allow a change in legal documentation no matter how much surgery or treatment one has had.

stalking

Instilling fear by obsessively pursuing a desired, past, or current sex partner.

standard days method

A fertility awareness-based method for predicting a woman’s fertility by tracking her cycle on a string of CycleBeads. Can be used for contraception by women whose cycles are no shorter than 26 days or longer than 32 days.

statutory rape

Legally, sexual contact between an adult and anyone who is below the age of consent, whether or not the contact is voluntary.

std (sexually transmitted disease)

A sexually transmitted infection that has developed symptoms. Also called "sexually transmitted infection."

stealth

Concealing one's transgender background from others. For example, a stealth transwoman is an individual who lives asa woman without telling people that she was categorized as a boy at birth.

stereotype

A widely accepted but overly simplified judgment or bias regarding a person or group.

sterility

Infertility, the inability to become pregnant or to cause a pregnancy.

sterilization

Surgical methods of birth control that are intended to be permanent —blocking of the fallopian tubes for women or the vasa deferentia for men.

sti (sexually transmitted infection)

An infection that is usually passed from one person to another during sexual or intimate contact. Also called STD.

stop-start technique

A treatment for too-early ejaculation in which the penis is repeatedly stimulated just short of ejaculatory inevitability and allowed to soften before being stimulated again.

straight

Heterosexual.

stranger rape

Forced sexual intercourse by an assailant unknown to the victim.

strap-on

A dildo that can be attached to a person to use for vaginal or anal intercourse or oral sex play.

subincision

Ritual cutting along the underside of the penis, which exposes the urethra.

superincision

An unusual form of circumcision in which the top of the foreskin is cut open but not removed.

suttee

The once forced, now illegal but continuing, suicide of Hindu widows by throwing themselves on the funeral pyres of their deceased husbands.

swinging

Exchanging each other’s sex partners for sex play.

syphilis

A sexually transmitted infection that can lead to disfigurement, neurological disorders, and death.

semen

Líquido que contiene esperma y que es eyaculado durante la excitación sexual. El semen está compuesto por un líquido que proviene de las vesículas seminales y de la próstata y por esperma que proviene de los testículos.

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T

taboo

A behavior that is outside the moral limits of cultural norms.

tampon

A firm roll of absorbent cotton or other fiber that is worn inside the vagina to absorb menstrual flow.

tantric sex

A ritualized form of sex play based in Hindu and Buddhist traditions that is performed by gradually increasing spiritual concentration and sexual stimuli until a full, mind-body orgasm is reached.

temperature method

A fertility awareness-based method for predicting fertility in which women chart when ovulation occurs by taking their temperature every morning before getting out of bed. Can be used for contraception or for planning pregnancy.

tenting

The lifting of the uterus during sexual excitement that creates more space in the inner vagina.

tertiary syphilis

The third phase of the infection during which multiple organ damage and failure occur.

testes

Two ball-like glands inside the scrotum that produce hormones, including testosterone. Each testis also encloses several hundred small lobes, which contain the tiny, threadlike seminiferous tubules that produce sperm. Also called "testicles," the testes are sensitive to the touch.

testicles

Two ball-like glands inside the scrotum that produce hormones, including testosterone. Each testicle also encloses several hundred small lobes, which contain the tiny, threadlike seminiferous tubules that produce sperm. Also called "testes," the testicles are sensitive to the touch.

testosterone

An androgen that is produced in the testes of men and in smaller amounts in the ovaries of women.

thalidomide

A sedative prescribed in Europe from 1953 to the early 1960s that was taken off the market because it caused severe birth defects, especially of the arms and legs.

thelarche

The time when a girl’s breasts begin to develop.

therapeutic abortion

The termination of a pregnancy because of fetal abnormality or to protect a woman’s physical or mental health or her life.

third trimester

The last three months of pregnancy.

threatened miscarriage

A condition in which a woman bleeds, with or without mild cramps, but the cervix hasn’t begun to open. Half of threatened miscarriages end in pregnancy loss. In the other half, the bleeding stops, and the pregnancy goes on normally.

thrush

An overgrowth of yeast in the mouth. Most common among women and men whose immune systems are weakened.

tocophobia

Fear of childbirth.

top surgery

See "chest surgery / chest reconstruction surgery."

toxic shock syndrome

A rare but very dangerous overgrowth of bacteria in the vagina. Symptoms include vomiting, high fever, diarrhea, and a sunburn-type rash.

trans

Short for transsexual or transgender.

transgender

Gender expression and gender identity that differ from conventional expectations based on biological sex. Often used as an umbrella term to describe the community of androgyne, cross-dressing, transgender, transsexual, or transvestite people. As an umbrella term, “transgender” is often imprecise and may not adequately describe the particulars of specific expressions and identities. For example, the expressions and identity of a post-operative FTM transsexual will probably be very different from that of a female-identified drag king who performs on weekends, but both are often lumped together under the term “transgender.”

transgenderist

Often synonymous with bigendered. Also used to describe people who live full-time in their gender identity without a desire for gender reconstructive surgery. A transgenderist may or may not decide to undergo electrolysis, cosmetic facial or body contouring surgeries, or hormone treatment.

transition

In sexuality, the process of changing from one sex to the other, with or without medical intervention. For most, transition is a gradual set of changes over time. It may be difficult to determine exactly when a transition begins and when it ends. Some feel that their transitions began the day they started hormone treatment. Some feel it began when they told their loved ones about their identities. Some feel it began when they changed their names legally. Some feel they are “in transition” for a few years until their hormonal changes settle in. Some feel that their transitions end when they are legally recognized. Some feel their transition is complete when they have completed genital reconstruction surgery.

transman

An identity adopted by some female-to-male transsexuals to acknowledge that they are men while affirming their history as women.

transphobia

Fear and hatred of people who are transgender, transsexual, or transvestite.

transsexual

People whose gender identities do not match the sex that was assigned at birth and who desire and/or seek medical treatment to bring their bodies into alignment with their gender identities.

transvestite

A person who cross-dresses for sexual pleasure. (Often offensive. Use “cross-dresser” to describe cross-dressing for other reasons.)

transwoman

An identity adopted by some male-to-female transsexuals to acknowledge that they are women while affirming their history as men.

tribadism

Sex play between two women who lie face-to-face and rub their clitorises against one another.

trimester

One-third of the nine months of pregnancy.

triphasic combination pill

An oral contraceptive with varying doses of estrogen and progestin during a 28-day cycle.

triple screen / triple test

A prenatal blood test at around 16 weeks of pregnancy to detect Down syndrome, brain and spine defects, and other defects. (Further tests will be offered if this blood test reveals an increased risk of birth defects.) Also called “multiple marker screening.”

tubal ligation

Surgical blocking of the fallopian tubes by tying them off. A form of tubal sterilization.

tubal pregnancy

An ectopic pregnancy in one of the fallopian tubes.

tubal sterilization

Surgical blocking of the fallopian tubes that is intended to provide permanent birth control.

tubectomy

The surgical removal of a fallopian tube.

tumescence

Erection and enlargement of the sex organs, especially the clitoris and penis, during sexual arousal.

turner syndrome

A rare condition in which an individual has normal external female sex organs but an undeveloped internal reproductive system because of abnormal chromosomes.

two-day method

A cervical mucus method of birth control in which a woman observes whether or not she has had cervical mucus two days in a row. A fertility awareness-based method of behavioral contraception.

two-spirited

In some Native American cultures, refers to people who have the spirits of both women and men. See "berdache" and "transgender."

typical use

The effectiveness of a particular contraceptive method for women and men who do not always use it consistently or correctly. See "perfect use."

tyson’s glands

The organs that secrete a fluid that combines with bacteria and body oils to form smegma. Several are located under the foreskin and clitoral hood. Others are located under the corona of the glans of the penis and on either side of the frenulum. Also called preputial glands.

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U

ultrasound

A medical test that creates an image by bouncing sound waves off the internal organs.

uncircumcised

Description of a penis that has a foreskin.

undescended testicle

A testicle that does not hang away from the body but remains in the abdomen of a boy or man. The testicles of a male fetus are enclosed in the abdomen. They descend to hang away from the body just before birth. In about five out of 100 male births, one or both of the testicles do not descend.

ureters

The two tubes that lead from the kidneys to the bladder.

urethra

The tube from which women and men urinate. The urethra empties the bladder and carries urine to the urethral opening. In men, the urethra runs through the penis and also carries ejaculate and pre-ejaculate during sex play and nocturnal emission.

urinary tract infection (uti)

A bacterial infection of the bladder (also called "cystitis"), the ureters, or the urethra.

use-effectiveness

The reliability of a contraceptive method as it is usually used —when it is not always used consistently or correctly.

uterine orgasm

The climax or peak of sexual arousal for women that is brought about by stimulating the vagina without stimulating the clitoris. Also called "vaginal orgasm."

uterine perforation

When the wall of the uterus is punctured by a surgical instrument during a procedure or by an intrauterine device during insertion.

uterus

The pear-shaped, muscular reproductive organ from which women menstruate and where normal pregnancy develops. Also called the “womb.”

uti (urinary tract infection)

A bacterial infection of the bladder (also called "cystitis"), the ureters, or the urethra.

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V

vacuum aspiration abortion

An in-clinic procedure in which the uterus is emptied with gentle suction.

vagina

The stretchable passage that connects a woman’s outer sex organs, the vulva, with the cervix and uterus. The vagina has three functions: to allow menstrual flow to leave the body, to allow sexual penetration to occur (either by hand, sex toy, or penis), and to allow a fetus to pass through during vaginal delivery

vaginal adhesion

Usually in post-menopausal women, a firm, fibrous growth that descends from the upper vagina to obstruct the opening of the vagina.

vaginal atrophy

Thinning and irritation of the folds of the walls of the vagina caused by the normal reduction in the secretion of estrogen during perimenopause and after menopause.

vaginal contraceptive film / vcf

A thin, two-inch square sheet of chemicals that is inserted deep into the vagina, and melts into a thick liquid that blocks the entrance to the uterus with a spermicide. It immobilizes sperm and prevents it from joining with an egg. An over-the-counter, reversible barrier method of birth control. Most effective when used with a condom.

vaginal dilators

A series of increasingly wider plastic cylinders that are used to enlarge the vagina or to treat vaginismus by helping a woman increase her capacity for vaginal penetration.

vaginal intercourse

Sex play in which the penis enters the vagina.

vaginal lubrication

During sexual arousal, the secretion of a slippery fluid from the blood vessels that “perspires” through the rugae of the walls of the vagina into the vaginal canal to facilitate penetration.

vaginal orgasm

The climax or peak of sexual arousal for women that is brought about by stimulating the vagina without stimulating the clitoris. Also called "uterine orgasm."

vaginismus

Painful intercourse for a woman that occurs when her fear and anxiety about vaginal intercourse cause the muscles around her vagina to go into spasm when her partner tries to insert a penis or dildo.

vaginitis

An irritation of the vagina or vulva.

vaginoplasty

In genital reconstruction surgery, the surgical creation of a vagina. Typically, in MTFs, the skin of the foreskin and penis is inverted to form a vagina. A clitoris can be formed from part of the glans of the penis. In cases of shortage of skin, or when a vaginoplasty has failed, a vaginal lining can be created from skin grafts from the thighs or hips, or a section of colon may be used. These tissues may not provide the same sensitivities as the penile inversion method, but the appearance of the vaginal opening is identical.

values

Ideas about what is right, worthwhile, or moral.

varicocele

An enlargement of one or more of the veins that carry blood away from the testis. It can reduce blood flow and increase the temperature of the testicle, thereby causing infertility. Similar to varicose veins that occur in the leg.

vas deferens

A long, narrow tube that carries sperm from each epididymis to the seminal vesicles during ejaculation. The plural of vas deferens is vasa deferentia.

vasectomy

Surgical blocking of the vasa deferentia in men that is intended to provide permanent birth control.

vasocongestion

An increase in the amount of blood in certain body tissues (breasts, clitoris, inner labia, nipples, penis) that is caused by sexual arousal. Also causes sex flushes and lubrication of the vagina.

vd (venereal disease)

Sexually transmitted infection. (Outdated.)

venereal disease (vd)

Sexually transmitted infection. (Outdated.)

venereologist

One who studies sexually transmitted infections.

viability

The ability of a fetus to survive outside a woman’s body.

vibrator

An electrically powered sex toy, often in the shape of a penis, that applies vibrations to sex organs or other erogenous zones for sexual stimulation. Developed by doctors to cure hysteria. See "hysteria."

victorians

People who lived during and after the reign of Britain’s Queen Victoria (1837-1901), especially those who shared her fears about human sexuality.

virginity

The status of never having had sexual intercourse.

vocal surgery

Estrogen therapy leaves MTF voices unchanged. Some MTFs choose surgery to alter their voices. This procedure may impair the voice permanently, so vocal surgery should be considered with caution.

voluntary sterilization

Surgically implemented contraception that is intended to be permanent and that is freely chosen.

voyeurs

Women or men who only become aroused by secretly watching another person undress or engage in sexual behavior.

vulva

A woman’s external sex organs, including the clitoris,labia (majora and minora), opening to the vagina (introitus),opening to the urethra, and two Bartholin’s glands.

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W

william masters (1915–2001) and virginia johnson (1925–)

Masters and Johnson are responsible for our understanding of the human sexual response cycle. They used mini-cameras and other electronic devices to observe what was going on inside and outside the body during the various phases of sexual arousal. They noticed and measured functions in the bodies of women and men that no one else had been able to observe. They first developed the concept of sex therapy by working with couples to help them overcome sexual problems, including sexual dysfunction.

wandering uterus

A mythical emotional disorder first described in ancient Athens by Hippocrates, who is considered the “father of medicine.” Hippocrates taught that, unless a woman was pregnant often enough, her uterus would wander around inside her body looking for a fetus to inhabit it. As the uterus rose inside her, she would become hysterical. If she did not have sex with a man and become pregnant, the uterus would rise into her throat and strangle her. See "hysteria."

wet dreams

Erotic imaging during sleep that causes ejaculation in men and lubrication in women. See "nocturnal emission."

withdrawal

Pulling the penis out of the vagina before ejaculation in order to avoid pregnancy. A reversible, behavioral method of birth control.

women’s lib

An abbreviation meant to trivialize “women’s liberation,” the feminist movement of the late 1960s.

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X

x chromosome

The sex-differentiating chromosome that occurs twice in females and once in males. See "sex chromosomes."

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Y

y chromosome

The sex-differentiating chromosome that occurs once in males and does not occur in females. See "sex chromosomes."

yeast infection

Usually, a type of vaginitis caused by an overgrowth of the yeast, candida albicans. Yeast infections may also occur in the penis or scrotum. When they occur orally, they are referred to as “thrush.”

yoni

Hindu name for the vulva / vagina. Hindus worship statues of the yoni made of wood, metal, or stone. Women wear symbols of the yoni (triangles, fish, double-pointed ovals, eggs, and various fruits) as sexual amulets to promote fertility and sexual potency.

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Z

zift (zygote intrafallopian transfer)

A procedure in which the egg and sperm are taken out of the woman’s and man’s bodies, joined in the laboratory, and then put into one of her fallopian tubes.

zygote

The single-celled organism that results from the joining of the egg and sperm.

zygote intrafallopian transfer (zift)

A procedure in which the egg and sperm are taken out of the woman’s and man’s bodies, joined in the laboratory, and then put into one of her fallopian tubes.

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Glossary