Raloxifene: A purified form of tamoxifen. Appears to be less estrogenic than tamoxifen in the endometrium, and may be less likely to cause uterine cancer. Brand name Evista.
Receptor: A special arrangement on a cell that recognizes a molecule and interacts with it. This allows the molecule to either enter the cell or stimulate it in a certain way.
Reduced libido: Also called inhibited sexual desire; a decrease in interest in sexual activity.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA): A joint disease caused by the immune system attacking healthy tissue, causing inflammation. This is different than the aging-related wear and tear that leads to osteoarthritis (OA). Often affects women at midlife and beyond.
Serotonin: A brain chemical that relays messages between brain cells (neurons) which regulates sleep, mood, libido, appetite. Can also be converted into melatonin. Made from dietary sources of the amino acid tryptophan.
Sequential HRT: Also known as Cyclical Hormone Therapy. Some form of estrogen is taken every day OR approximately three weeks of the month, along with a progestin or progesterone which is taken usually 10-14 days of the month, beginning in mid-cycle. This style of taking hormones mimics normal menstrual cycle, allowing the endometrium to build up and shed each month, generally resulting in regular monthly "withdrawal" bleeding which begins shortly after one stops the progestin/progesterone. Bleeding at other times or heavy bleeding usually needs to be checked out by your doctor. The timing of the monthly bleeding can be programmed by when one chooses to start the "month," e.g. one can choose the 10th or 15th of the month as Day One.
SERMs (Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators): See Designer estrogens.
Sonogram: An imaging procedure (called ultrasound) in which echoes from sound waves passing through tissue create pictures of structures deep within the body.
Speculum: A metal or plastic instrument inserted into the vagina to help examine the vagina, cervix, and uterus.
Spontaneous menopause: Menopause that is not caused by any medical treatment or surgery. It occurs, on average, at age 51. Also known as natural menopause.
Statins: Cholesterol-lowering drugs.
Stress Urinary Incontinence: The unpredictable and involuntary loss of urine caused by weakened sphincter muscles (the muscles that surround the urethra) and often triggered by an event such as a sneeze or cough.
Surgical menopause: Induced menopause that results from surgical removal of both of the ovaries (bilateral oophorectomy) for medical reasons. Surgical menopause can occur at any age before spontaneous menopause.
Synthetic Hormones: Refers to hormone products created in the lab to be molecularly similar, but not identical, to endogenous human hormones.
Synthroid: A medicine used for thyroid supplementation.
Systemic therapy: Drug therapy that circulates through the body, affecting many body systems. Examples include oral and skin patch estrogen drugs.
TAH/BSO (Total Abdominal Hysterectomy/Bilateral Salpingo-Oophorectomy): Removal of the ovaries and fallopian tubes during a total hysterectomy.
Tamoxifen: One of the designer estrogen drugs (SERMs). Used in breast cancer patients to prevent recurrence; being considered for breast cancer prevention in high-risk women because of anti-estrogen effect in the breast.
Temporary Menopause: An interruption of the ovarian function that prevents the production of hormones that accompany the maturation and release of oocytes (eggs). Temporary menopause can follow chemical or radiation therapies or result from excessive exercise, weight loss, or inadequate nutrition. See also induced menopause. When the contributing condition stops, ovulation and menstruation begin again.
Testosterone: Considered a male hormone (androgen), but also produced in smaller quantities by the female body. Deficiency in women's testosterone is associated with loss of bone density, loss of libido, and loss of the sense of well being.
Thyroid Gland: Gland which produces the major hormones of metabolism, thyroxine and tri-iodothyronine. It is situated in front of the larynx. Imbalance of the thyroid might require supplementation of thyroid medication; some common names are Synthroid, Armour, Nature thyroid and Cytomel.
TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone): A hormone produced by the brain which regulates production and release of thyroid hormones.
Tri-Estrogen/Tri-est: A natural estrogen supplement composed of 80% estriol, 10% estradiol, and 10% estrone. Can also be compounded as Bi-est, with only estriol and estradiol. Comes in transdermal (cream), oral and sublingual form.
Triglyceride: One of the blood fats that the body can use to make cholesterol; elevated TG (from diet, alcohol intake, lack of exercise, and some drugs) are a significant risk factor for heart disease particularly for women.
Tubal ligation: The tying, clamping, and/or cutting of the fallopian tubes to prevent pregnancy and induce sterility.
Unopposed HRT: Any HRT regimen containing estrogen only. NOT recommended for women who have a uterus.
Ultrasound Scan: A method of visualizing internal organs, blood vessels, and fetus by utilizing high-frequency sound waves. Does not involve radiation.
Urethra: The external opening in the bladder through which the body releases urine.
Urge Incontinence: Involuntary bladder spasms that can be triggered by the sight, sound, or even thought of water or urination; the sudden reflex need to urinate causes the spasm and an accompanying release of urine.
Urinary Tract Infections (UTI): A bladder infection due to bacteria that typically have entered the bladder through the urethra during the process of intercourse, improper wiping techniques, poor hygiene, or other reasons.
Uterine bleeding: Any bleeding that originates in the uterus, including a menstrual period, but typically used to describe abnormal uterine bleeding. See also Abnormal uterine bleeding.
Uterus: The small, hollow, pear-shaped organ in a woman's pelvis where menstrual bleeding originates and in which a fetus develops.
Vagina: The passage or canal leading from the uterus to the vulva.
Vaginal Atrophy: A condition characterized by the drying and shrinking of the vaginal lining. As the body’s estrogen production diminishes with menopause, the vagina produces fewer secretions, so the vaginal wall becomes less lubricated and flexible and more prone to tears and cracks.
Vaginal dryness: Inadequate lubrication of the vagina that can be caused by low estrogen levels, medication, or lack of sexual arousal.
Vaginal estrogen: Prescription estrogen therapy that is applied vaginally (as cream, ring, suppository, or tablet) and is government approved to treat moderate to severe vaginal dryness and atrophy. Most vaginal estrogen therapies provide local, not systemic, treatment. An example is Vagifem vaginal tablet.
Vaginal lubricant: Nonprescription, water-based products that are applied to the vagina to decrease friction and reduce discomfort during intercourse. Common brands include Astroglide, K-Y Personal Lubricant, Lubrin, and Moist Again.
Vaginal moisturizer: Nonprescription products similar to vaginal lubricants, but offering longer duration of effect by replenishing and maintaining water content in the vagina, often preferred by women who have symptoms of irritation, itching, and burning that are not limited to intercourse. Vaginal moisturizers also help to keep a healthy pH (level of acidity) in the vagina, helping to guard against infection (but not sexually transmitted infections). Common brands include K-Y Long-Lasting Moisturizer and Replens.
Vaginismus: a strong tightening of the muscles in the pelvic area and vagina caused by fear of a painful entry before intercourse or pelvic exam.
Vaginitis: Any inflammation of the vagina, usually referring to an infection due to bacteria, yeast, or other pathogens that results in discomfort, itching, and/or abnormal discharge.
Vasomotor Symptoms: Hot flashes or night sweats that result from sudden opening of the blood vessels close to the skin, usually due to hormonal fluctuations in menopause and perimenopause.
Vulva: External female genitalia.
Vulvodynia: A syndrome of unknown etiology characterized by chronic vulvar discomfort that can result in both physical and emotional pain in the lives of affected women.
Womb:Another name for the uterus, the female organ in which a fetus develops.
Women's Health Initiative (WHI): Large research project established by the National Institutes of Health in 1991 to look into the most common causes of death, disability, and impaired quality of life in postmenopausal women. The findings most reported by the media refer to oral hormone therapy (Premarin or Prempro) initiated in older women (past perimenopause) to determine its relationship to cardiovascular disease, stroke, breast cancer, osteoporosis, colon cancer, and other conditions.
Xenoestrogens: Refer to environmental compounds (usually petrochemicals) that generally have very potent estrogen-like activity and can be considered very toxic. There is mounting evidence that exposure to xenoestrogens may be a significant causal factor in breast cancer, testicular cancer and prostate cancer, and decline in male sperm production.
Yeast infection: An infection of the vagina caused by one of the many species of fungus called Candida.
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