Monday, May 28, 2012

Menopause Glossary of Terms (F-P)


Fallopian tubes: Narrow, muscular tubes attached to the upper part of the uterus that serve as tunnels for the egg to travel from the ovaries to the uterus. Conception, the fertilization of an egg by a sperm, normally occurs in the fallopian tube.

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Capable of reproducing.
The moment at which a sperm penetrates an egg and an embryo begins to develop into a baby.
A protein in the blood that helps it to clot.
Fibroids: Non-cancerous growths of the uterus consisting of muscle and fibrous tissue, growing independent of surrounding tissue and having no positive physiological function. Usually benign, but can turn malignant under certain conditions. This is a common cause of heavy bleeding in women.
Follicle: Cell structures within the ovary that contain an egg.
FSH (Follicle Stimulating Hormone): A hormone produced by the pituitary gland (located at the base of the brain). In women, FSH stimulates the growth of ovarian follicles (the small cysts that hold the eggs) and the supporting cells responsible for the growth and nurturing of the egg. FSH also stimulates production of estrogen by the ovaries. When estrogen production is low (after menopause), FSH levels will be high.
Follicular phase: The 1st part of the menstrual cycle, when follicles in the ovary grow to prepare for the releasing of the egg.


Gonadotrophins: A collective term for follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and lutenising hormone (LH).
Glucosamine: An amino sugar present in almost all human tissues that is believed to play a role in cartilage formation and repair. As a nonprescription supplement, alone and with chondroitin, it has been shown to be effective for treating symptoms of osteoarthritis. See also Osteoarthritis, Chondroitin sulfate.
Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH): A hormone released by the hypothalamus (a region in the brain) that helps suppress ovarian production of estrogen. Drugs similar to GnRH are sometimes prescribed to shrink fibroid tumors or control abnormal uterine bleeding.


Heart Palpitations: The uncomfortable sensation that the heart is beating rapidly, out of sequence, too strenuously, or in some other abnormal fashion.
Hippocampus: The part of the brain responsible for creating, storing, and retrieving memory.
Hormone: A chemical messenger produced by a gland or organ that influences a number of metabolic actions in our cells.
Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT): Therapy consisting of estrogen or a combination of estrogen and progestin designed to replace the loss of these hormones in menopause and thus combat the effects of this deficiency, including bone loss, vaginal atrophy, hot flashes, and other conditions. Used interchangeably with the term “Menopausal Hormone Therapy” or MHT.
Hot Flashes (flushes): Hot flashes or flushes can be mild or severe, but in general, they involve a fast-spreading sensation of warmth through the face, neck, and shoulders due to vasodilation of the blood vessels in the skin. Hot flashes are the result of fluctuating hormone levels, but their triggers, intensity, and frequency vary from woman to woman. Hot flashes that occur during sleep are often known as night sweats.
Hypertension: High blood pressure that occurs when arteries become too inflexible to allow an ample supply of blood to circulate, especially under periods of exertion or stress, thus causing excess pressure against arterial walls. Severe or ongoing high blood pressure can lead to stroke and other life-threatening conditions.
Hypothalamus: The control center situated at the base of the brain which regulates functions of the autonomic nervous system and hormonal system, such as body temperature, thirst, appetite, and sex drive. It releases hormones that travel to the pituitary gland and stimulate release of pituitary hormones, which govern the other endocrine glands.
Hysterectomy: The surgical removal of the uterus that may or may not also be accompanied by the removal of the cervix and/or ovaries. If ovaries remain, the hysterectomy doesn’t necessarily cause menopause, though menstrual bleeding ceases.
Hysteroscopy: A surgical procedure to examine the inside of the uterus by inserting a thin, lighted tube into the vagina and through the cervix (lower, narrow end of the uterus). 


Induced Menopause: Induced menopause is a cessation of menstrual cycles that occurs when a woman has her ovaries surgically removed in a procedure called oophorectomy, or when a woman’s ovaries cease to function prematurely as a result of medication, radiation, a lack of nutrition, or excessive exercise. With treatment and intervention, some nonsurgical types of induced menopause may be temporary. See also temporary menopause.
Insomnia: An inability to fall and/or remain asleep that occurs three or more nights a week.

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Insulin: A hormone made by the pancreas that helps regulate blood sugar levels.
Intrauterine device (IUD): Also called Intrauterine system (IUS). IUD is a device with either progestin or copper inserted in the uterus by a healthcare provider to prevent unwanted pregnancy. The progestin device can be used with estrogen for EPT.
In vivo: Means occurring in a living organism.
Isoflavones: A type of plant estrogen found in soybeans, red clover, and (in much lower quantities) green tea, peas, pinto beans, lentils, and other legumes, that may have benefits in treating some symptoms of menopause.


Kegel Exercise: An exercise designed to strengthen the muscles of the pelvic floor to improve vaginal muscle tone, improve sexual response, and limit involuntary urine release due to stress urinary incontinence.


Laparoscopy: A surgical procedure to look inside the pelvic cavity by inserting a tube like instrument through a small cut in the abdomen.
Libido: Sex drive.
Local therapy: Drug therapy that has an effect limited to the site of drug application. It is not systemic (does not circulates through the body, affecting many body systems). Examples include most vaginal estrogen drugs.
Lumpectomy: Surgery to remove only the abnormal breast tissue; usually followed by radiation therapy.
Luteinizing Hormone (LH): A pituitary-produced hormone which triggers ovulation and the development of the corpus luteum.


Mammogram: An x-ray of the breast.
Mastectomy: Surgery to remove the breast.
Menarche: The first menstrual period.
Menses: The menstrual period.
Menopause: The cessation of menstruation (usually not official until 12 months without periods), occurring at the average age of 52.
Menorrhagia: Excessive bleeding from the uterus which occurs at the regular times of the menstrual periods but the bleeding is heavier than usual and may last longer than usual.
Metabolic syndrome: The presence of 3 or more of the following factors: central obesity (increased waist circumference), elevated triglyceride levels, low HDL cholesterol, elevated blood pressure, or elevated fasting glucose level. Women with metabolic syndrome are at increased risk for heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes (adult onset diabetes).
Metabolism: The chemical and physical processes continuously going on in the body involving creation and breakdown of molecules; a process utilizing the raw materials of nutrients, oxygen, and vitamins, along with enzymes, to produce energy for bodily functions.
Micronized/Micronization: A process designed to decrease particle size of hormones, including progesterone and estradiol. Micronization allows the formulation of natural hormone products that have a longer half-life, reduced destruction in the gastrointestinal tract, and enhanced bioavailability.
Migraine Headaches: Intensely painful headaches thought to be associated with spasms in constricted blood vessels in the brain. Women who suffer migraines describe them as pounding headaches that can produce nausea, vomiting, and a painful sensitivity to light, noise, and odors.

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Molecule: The smallest possible quantity of atoms that retains the chemical properties of an element or compound. A molecule is made up of 2 or more atoms that are chemically combined.
Myomectomy: The surgical removal of a uterine fibroid tumor.


NAMS Menopause Practitioner: A licensed healthcare provider who has achieved a certification in the field of menopause from The North American Menopause Society by passing a competency examination.
Natural Hormones: Hormone products formulated (usually from plant sources) to be bio-identical (biologically the same) in structure to hormone molecules produced by the human body. The crucial variable defining "natural" is whether the hormone's chemical structure matches that of the hormone it is intended to replace, not where it came from or how it is produced. Because they are chemically identical to our own naturally occurring hormones, natural hormones are easily metabolized by the body.
Natural hormone replacement therapy (NHRT): Use of bio-identical (natural) hormones such as estradiol and micronized progesterone instead of the conventional Premarin or progestins. Natural hormones are available both in brand-name products and from compounding pharmacies, which can supply any of the bio-identical hormones alone or combine them into one dose in the form desired (e.g, sublingual tablets, oil caps, or cream).
Natural Menopause: The cessation of all periods resulting from the halt of ovarian hormone production that is spontaneous and not the result of other physical or pathological conditions or treatments; natural menopause is diagnosed when a women has had twelve months of amenorrhea.
Natural Micronized Progesterone: A hormone product that is bio-identical to endogenous progesterone. It is available as micronized progesterone USP and referred to as natural progesterone. Prescribed for treatment of infertility and as part of hormone replacement regimens in menopausal women, who still have their uteruses.


Obesity: A condition of being more than 30 percent over your ideal weight, or having a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or higher. (A BMI of 25-30 is considered "overweight").

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Omega-3 fatty acids: Essential fatty acids found in fish, nuts, flaxseed, tofu, and in soybean and canola oils, that help nourish the hair and nails, and offer a number of benefits for cardiovascular health.
Oophorectomy: Surgical removal of the ovaries.
Orgasm: Sexual climax.
Osteoarthritis (OA): The most common form of joint disease. Increases in frequency with the “wear and tear” of aging and particularly affects aging women. Considerable research is ongoing to clarify the relationship between hormones and arthritis. See also Rheumatoid arthritis.
Osteoporosis: A chronic disease in which a loss of bone mass results in porous, fragile bone that is prone to fracture. An age-related disease in menopause, osteoporosis can manifest itself sooner in women who have risk factors.
Ovarian Failure: When the ovaries run out of eggs.
Ovaries: The pair of female reproductive organs on either side of the uterus that produce eggs and hormones (estrogen, progesterone and small amounts of testosterone).
Ovulation: The release of the egg mid-cycle each month.


Pap test or Pap smear: A tissue sample taken during an internal vaginal exam to test for precancerous cell changes and cervical cancer. Named after George N. Papanicolaou.
Parathyroid Hormone (PH): A hormone, synthesized and released by the parathyroid glands, that controls the distribution of calcium and phosphate in the bones.
PDR: Physicians' Desk Reference. Doctors rely on the PDR for all FDA-approved drug information they need when they prescribe medications. Many doctors will not prescribe anything not included in this reference.
Pelvic cavity: The space inside the lower abdomen that holds the reproductive organs (e.g., uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes).
Pelvic examination: Clinical exam of the vulva (external genitalia), vagina, cervix, uterus, and ovaries. A speculum is inserted into the vagina and a Pap test is usually done during this exam. See also Pap test, Speculum.
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID): An infection in the pelvis caused by bacteria, usually from a sexually transmitted disease. PID can affect the uterus, ovaries, and/or fallopian tubes, and may cause pain, fever, scarring of the pelvic organs, and infertility.
Pelvic ultrasound: A test that uses sound waves to produce an electronic image of the organs of the pelvis.
Pelvis: The lower part of the abdomen, located between the hip bones.
Perimenopause: Also known as premenopause. The years prior to menopause when menstrual periods and ovulations begin to be skipped and some menopausal symptoms might occur, such as hot flashes, bone loss or sleep changes. Length of time for premenopause and age of onset vary widely.
Phantom period: This is having all the premenstrual symptoms leading up to a period, like cramping, chocolate cravings, bloating and breast soreness but not having any vaginal bleeding.
Phytoestrogens: Plant compounds with estrogen-like activity. They are usually considerably weaker than natural estrogens and compete for the same estrogen receptor sites throughout the body. They have often been used to decrease symptoms of estrogen excess.
Phytohormones: Substances found in some herbs and other plants that may help to regulate plant growth. Some types, referred to as phytoestrogens, can bind to the human body’s estrogen receptors and may act like an estrogen or an anti-estrogen on the body, depending upon their particular type and dosage.
Phytosterols: Any of the various sterols (fatty substances) obtained from plants. Sterols are composed of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen arranged in a multiple ring-like structure. Bile, sex and adrenal hormones and vitamin D contain sterols.
Pituitary Gland: Small endocrine gland situated at the base of the brain which supplies many hormones that govern many vital and needed processes of the body such as growth and metabolism; secretes the hormones controlling ovulation, for instance.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: An inherited hormonal imbalance that won't allow eggs to be expelled from the ovaries. It can lead to extremely irregular or heavy menstrual periods, lack of periods, infertility, endometrial and uterine cancer, male-pattern hair growth and fat deposition, weight gain, insulin resistance and increased risk for cardiovascular disease, among other things.
Polyp, Uterine: Small, tag-shaped growths of uterine tissue, attached to the lining of the uterus. Polyps can cause irregular bleeding; doctors remove them to confirm there is no precancerous change.
Postmenopause: The time after menopause.
Pregnenolone: A precursor hormone made primarily in the adrenal glands, but also in the brain, liver, skin, and ovaries. It can convert to DHEA and progesterone and all the adrenal steroid hormones, including testosterone and estrogen.
Premarin: Conjugated estrogens. An estrogen supplement created primarily from the urine of pregnant mares; while the ingredients are natural to horses, they are not natural to humans, and so therefore Premarin is essentially a synthetic estrogen and comes in varying oral doses and also a vaginal cream.
Premature menopause: Menopause that occurs at or before the age of 40, which may be the result of genetics, autoimmune disorders, or medical procedures or treatments.
Premature ovarian failure (POF): A condition that occurs at an earlier age than 40 when the ovaries “fail,” causing menstrual periods to stop. POF differs from premature menopause in that ovarian activity may resume.
Premenopause: See Perimenopause
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD): A debilitating type of premenstrual syndrome that can include symptoms such as severe depression, anxiety, sleep disturbances, and fatigue in addition to a wide range of physical disturbances. Though premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and PMDD differ in severity, diagnosis, and treatment, both seem to be linked to the way the body processes and responds to reproductive hormones and possibly serotonin.
Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS): A condition occurring ten to fourteen days before the onset of menstrual bleeding and involving physical and emotional symptoms that include bloating, water retention, pelvic pressure or cramping, headaches or migraines, irritability, mood swings, difficulty concentrating, and food cravings.
Progestational hormones: A class of sex hormones including endogenous progesterone, natural progesterone, and the various progestins (see progestational hormones, synthetic). Also called progestogens.
Progestational hormones, synthetic: Compounds obtained by chemical synthesis that have some progesterone-like actions (e.g., in the uterus), but differ in structure from progesterone. Also called progestins.
Progesterone: Endogenous hormone produced in the corpus luteum of the female ovaries to prepare the endometrium for egg implantation and to maintain pregnancy. Serves to oppose (balance) estrogen, promotes proliferation of uterine mucosa and prevents further follicular development.
Progestin: Any of a group of hormone products that are formulated in a laboratory from progesterone or testosterone and that have progesterone-like effects on the uterus. Often referred to as synthetic because the chemical structure differs from naturally occurring hormone molecules. Progestins are included in hormonal contraceptives including birth control pills and the new birth control skin patch, and are prescribed as part of HRT in menopausal women who still have their uteruses, but they are contraindicated in pregnancy. Medroxyprogesterone acetate (MPA) and norethindrone acetate (NETA) are two common progestins.
Progestogen: An umbrella term applied to any substance possessing progestational activity. A steroid hormone (including progesterone) that induces changes in the endometrium after priming with estrogens. There can be substantial differences between progestogens, both in chemical structure and in pharmacological profile.
Prolactin: pituitary hormone that stimulates milk production and also suppresses ovarian function in the early postpartum days. It also has hormone regulating functions during the menstrual cycle.
Prolapse: The falling down or slipping of a body part from its usual position (e.g., with a uterus or bladder if the ligaments holding it in place become stretched).

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