Here you will find medical glossary terms I-P.

Immunodeficient: An inability to mount an adequate immune response upon challenge.

Immunology: The study of the immune response to disease; specialization in the study of infectious diseases.

Immunoglobulin: A family of large protein molecules; antibodies.

Immunosuppressive:  Something that decreases or stalls a response from the immune system.

Imperforate hymen: Condition in which the hymen (the tissues at the opening of the vagina, in some females) is partially or entirely blocked.

Incidence: The number of times an event occurs.

Incontinence: The inability to control urination; unintentional loss of urine.

Infertility: Inability to conceive after one year of trying without the use of birth control, or the inability to carry a pregnancy to full-term delivery.

Inguinal: Pertaining to the groin.

Inguinal hernia: Hernia occurring in the groin, where the abdominal folds of flesh meet the thighs. It is often the result of increased pressure within the abdomen, whether due to lifting, coughing, straining or accident. A sac formed from the peritoneum, containing a portion of intestine, pushes outward (or downward) through the weakest part of the abdominal wall.

Insemination: Installation of semen into a woman’s vagina for the purpose of conception.

Interferons (IFN): Cytokines that can induce cells to resist viral replication; they “interfere” with viral infections.

Interleukins (IL): A generic term for cytokines produced by leukocytes.

Internal os: The internal opening of the cervix into the uterus.

Intestines, bowel, gut: The tubular part of the digestive tract that extends from the stomach to the anus. The small intestine is about 20 feet long and is the section from the stomach to a part of the intestine called the cecum; it is smaller in diameter than the large intestine. The large intestine is about 5 feet long and includes the cecum, colon, rectum, and anal canal.

In vitro fertilization: A procedure in which an ovum (egg) is removed from the follicle, fertilized by sperm outside the body (usually in a test tube), and replaced in the uterus. The fertilized egg is allowed to divide in an incubator for about two days and then is inserted into the uterus. Usually abbreviated to IVF.

Intramural: Within the wall of an organ or part.

Irritable bowel syndrome: A poorly understood, loosely-defined bowel problem characterized by irregular and uncoordinated contractions of the intestines.

Keloid: Elevated, irregularly shaped scar tissue.

Kegel exercises: Exercises that involve tightening and relaxing the muscles in the pelvic floor to keep them firm.

Kidneys: The two bean-shaped organs located in the lower back, each to one side of the spine, that clean the blood. The wastes and excess water from this process is urine.

Lactated Ringer’s: An IV solution used in surgery and medicine as a fluid and electrolyte replenisher.

Laparoscope: A type of endoscope consisting of an illuminated tube with an optical system. It is inserted through the abdominal wall for examining the peritoneal cavity.

Laparoscopy: A surgical procedure, generally done on an outpatient basis under general anesthesia.  A small incision is made near the naval, and a lighted, thin tube is inserted, through which the surgeon can view organs in the abdomen. Additional small incisions may be made to introduce other instruments into the abdomen for removing endo growths and adhesions or performing other surgical procedures. A diagnostic laparoscopy is a laparoscopy done to diagnose the problem. An operative laparoscopy means that surgical procedures are carried out during the laparoscopy. Most endo specialists now do operative laparoscopies at the time of first diagnosis.

Laparotomy: Major surgery done through a large incision in the abdominal wall.

Latency: A state of inactivity or dormancy. In cancer, a state in which there are no outward signs of the disease, though tests indicate the disease is still present in an inactive state.

Laser: Extremely concentrated beam of light that can be directed precisely to destroy diseased tissue or to excise it.

Leiomyoma: Benign smooth muscle tumor commonly occurring in the uterine lining. Another word for “fibroid.”

Lesions:  In endo, “lesions” describes the patches, colonies, or growths of endometrial tissue outside the uterus. In general, lesions refer to any pathological disturbance such as an injury, infection, or a tumor.

Leukocytes: All white blood cells; our immune cells.

Leukotrienes: Powerful chemicals released by inflammatory cells of the immune system.

Leuprolide acetate: Injectable GnRH analog marketed as Lupron.

Lipids: Fatty substances, insoluble in water. Lipids are important sources of fuel to the body and in maintaining cell membranes. Ratios of certain lipids are thought to predict cardiovascular disease.

Ligament: A tough band of fibrous tissue which joins two areas of the body and helps to hold them in place.

Low-density lipoprotein (LDL): A plasma protein containing relatively more cholesterol and triglycerides than protein. It is derived in part, if not completely, from the intravascular breakdown of the very low-density lipoproteins.

Lower GI  Series (Barium enema): Insertion of barium into the intestines for the purpose of x-ray examination.

Lung biopsy: Removal of lung tissue for examination.

Lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus): An inflammatory disease, generally occurring in young women, which causes deterioration of the connective tissues and may attack soft internal organs as well as bones and muscles. Symptoms vary widely but may include fever, rash, abdominal pains, weakness, fatigue, and pains in joints and muscles. Women with endo have a higher risk for lupus.

Luteal phase: The last fourteen days of the menstrual cycle after ovulation has occurred. When an egg is not fertilized, the corpus luteum gradually disappears, estrogen and progesterone (hormone) levels drop, and the thickened uterine lining is shed. This is your period. 

Luteal phase defect: A shorter than normal luteal phase or one with a progesterone deficit.

Luteinizing hormone: A hormone produced by the pituitary gland which stimulates the production of estrogen by the ovary and is involved in the maturing of the egg at ovulation.

Luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone: Agonist used to treat endometriosis. Induces pseudo-menopause. Side effects include those associated with menopause. Same as GnRH.

Lymph:  A thin watery fluid that contains mainly blood cells and emulsified fats and is filtered through the lymph nodes and pumped throughout the body via the lymphatic system. 

Lymphatic system: Pertaining to the vast, complex network of organs, capillaries, valves, ducts, and nodes which carry lymph, a watery fluid containing various molecules as well as bacteria which are filtered in the lymph nodes.  The lymphatic system is called the body’s drainage system, important in fluid balance and detoxification.

Lymphocytes: Small white blood cells produced in the bone marrow and paramount in our immune defenses.

Lymphokines: Inflammatory mediators released by T cells into the bloodstream, and capable of stimulating other immune cells.

Lymphoma: Tumors that begin in the lymph or lymphatic system.

Lyse: To cut, break up, divide, separate.

Lysis: To cut, break up, divide, separate; cutting, dividing, or separating surgically.

Macrophages: Immune cells that destroy bacteria and other foreign material by surrounding them and gobbling them up.

Macular: Characterized by macules, patches of skin altered in color, but usually not elevated.

Malignant: Cancerous.

Mammary glands: Glands located in the central part of the breast which allow for the passage of milk into the nipple.

Mammography: X-ray of the breast.

Mast cells: Inflammatory cells found in body tissues, which produce chemicals in response to injury or infection.

Medroxyprogesterone acetate: The chemical name of Provera and Depo-Provera.

Megace: A drug given to patients with advanced breast or endometrial cancer.

Melatonin: A hormone secreted by the pineal gland that helps regulate hormone production.

Membrane attack complex (MAC): A structure formed by complement proteins that forms a hole in a cell membrane. This allows fluid to pour into the cell causing it to swell and die.

Menarche: The first menstruation in a female’s life.

Meniere’s disease:  A sometimes disabling disorder of the ear, causing hearing loss, dizziness, and ringing in the ear (tinnitus).

Menopause: Cessation of menstruation, measured as one year since a woman’s last period.

Menorrhagia: An excessive flow of blood during menstruation.

Menstruation: The monthly flow of blood and endometrial tissue from the uterus via the vagina, i.e. the monthly period.

Metabolism: The chemical processes of a living organism that result in energy production, growth, elimination of wastes, and other bodily functions related to distribution of nutrients after digestion.

Metabolite:  Any product of metabolism.

Metastasis: The spread of cancer from the original site to other areas of the body.

Microbiome: The collection of microscopic bacteria, fungi, and other organisms that live in our intestines and elsewhere in and on the body.  They are essential to our life, creating some vitamins, helping program and control the immune system, helping metabolize some environmental chemicals (and also being harmed by them), involved in autoimmune diseases and inflammation, and even contributing positively or negatively to our moods.  Microbiome balance is essential for health and can be destroyed by antibiotics, poor diet, and some medications.  The Endometriosis Association first published on the role of the microbiome in endometriosis (then called microflora) in the early 1980s.

Microsurgery: Surgery using magnification, tiny sutures, and very gentle handling of tissues.

Millimeter (mm): Part of the metric system of measurement. 1 mm = .04 inch (U.S.)

Miscarriage: Loss of an embryo or fetus before the 20th week of pregnancy. Most miscarriages occur during the first 14 weeks of pregnancy. The medical term for miscarriage is spontaneous abortion.

Mitral valve prolapse: A defect in which a valve on the left side of the heart flaps up instead of closing tightly, allowing some blood to backflow.

Mittelschmerz: Pain which occurs during ovulation.

Monoclonal antibodies: Antibodies cloned in the laboratory from an individual B lymphocyte and specific for a particular antigen.

Monocyte: A large phagocytic white blood cell which, when it enters tissue, develops into a macrophage.

Morbidity: The condition of being unhealthy or diseased.

Moxibustion: Moxa is an herb used in traditional Chinese medicine that is burned over the point of the energy meridians, stimulating the flow of chi (energy). (Yo San University Clinic brochure.)

Mucinous: A type of tumor made up of cells which produce mucin, the chief ingredient in mucus.

Mucous colitis: Another term for irritable bowel syndrome.

Mucous membranes: The membranes which line all those passages by which the internal parts of the body communicate with the exterior, and are continuous with the skin at the various openings of the surface of the body. Examples include the lining at the mouth, the digestive tract, the respiratory lining, and the genitourinary tract.

Mucus/mucosal: The clear, sticky secretion of the mucous membranes; relating to the mucous membranes.

Mullerian ducts: Ducts in the embryo that develop into the ovaries, uterus, and vagina.

Multifactorial: The result of the combined effect of several factors.

Multiple sclerosis (MS):  A chronic disease, generally occurring in young adults characterized by hardening patches scattered randomly throughout the brain and spinal cord interfering with the nerves of those areas. Can cause visual disturbances, balance impairment, unsteady walk, loss of bladder and bowel control, and paralysis.  Women with endometriosis have a higher risk of MS.

Muscular dystrophy: A group of related diseases characterized by weakness and progressive wasting of the skeletal muscles.

Mutagenesis: The occurrence of genetic mutation.

Myalgia: Muscle pain.

Myasthenia gravis: A chronic muscle disease characterized by weakness and extreme fatigue of the voluntary muscles.

Myofascial:   A muscle and the connective tissues (tendons, ligaments, etc.) surrounding it.

Myofascial release massage: A type of physical therapy or massage that slowly stretches the fascia, or connective tissue, releasing restrictions occurring in the connective tissue that may be causing pain, stiffness, and/or other problems.

Myomectomy: Surgical removal of a myoma (fibroid).

Myometrial, Myometrium: Having to do with the myometrium, the outer lining, layer/muscular coat of the uterus.

Narcotics (legal definition): Habit-forming drugs.

Narcotics (medical definition): Drugs that produce narcosis, depression of the central nervous system.

Natural killer cells:  Large, granule-filled lymphocytes that take on tumor cells and infected body cells. They are known as “natural” killers because they attack without first having to recognize specific antigens.

Naturopath, N.D.: Naturopathic doctor; one who practices naturopathy, a system of medicine stressing maintenance of health and prevention of disease using a variety of methods to help the body heal itself, i.e. nutrition, exercise, massage, acupuncture, etc.

Navel: Umbilicus, “belly button.”

Necrosis: Localized tissue death that occurs in groups of cells in response to disease or injury.

Nephrologist: A physician who has specialized in conditions involving the kidneys.

Neoplasms: Tumors.

Neoplastic: Tumor-forming.

Neuritis: Inflammation of a nerve.

Neurologist: A physician specializing in conditions involving the nervous system.

Neuropathy: Any disease of the nerves.

Neutrophil: A white blood cell that is an abundant and important phagocyte.

Nociceptors: Nerve endings selectively responding to painful stimuli. Stimulation of nociceptors causes the sensation of pain.

Nocturia: Urinary frequency at night.

Nodule: A small, firm lump of tissue.

Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma:  Cancer affecting the lymph tissue.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): Pain medications which work by inhibiting prostaglandins, and which include ibuprofen and naproxen sodium (both nonprescription) and others, including prescribed forms.

Nucleus: The central controlling body within a living cell, usually round, containing genetic codes for maintaining life systems of an organism and for issuing commands for growth and reproduction.

Occupational therapy: Therapy which includes activities needed for daily living or work.

Oligo-ovulatory: A term describing a woman who ovulates infrequently.

Oncogene: A potentially cancer-inducing gene.  Under normal conditions such genes play a role in the growth and proliferation of cells, but, when altered in some way by a cancer-causing agent such as radiation, a carcinogenic chemical, or an oncogenic virus, they may cause the cell to be transformed to a malignant state.

Oocyte: Egg cell produced in the ovaries each month. Also called ovum.

Oophorectomy: Surgical removal of the ovaries.

Opioid: A synthetic narcotic that acts like an opiate (a narcotic derived from opium) but is not derived from opium.

Organic: Organic foods are grown without the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers, genetically-engineered ingredients, or sewage sludge.

Organochlorine:  A chemical compound made by combining chlorine with organic substances, usually petrochemicals.

Osseous: Bonelike.

Osteoarthritis: A form of arthritis, often occurring in older people, when cartilage around the bone frays or wears and bone rubs against bone.

Osteopathy: Osteopathy is, according to Stedman’s Concise Medical Dictionary, “a school of medicine based upon the idea that the normal body when in ‘correct adjustment’ is a vital machine capable of making its own remedies against infections and other toxic conditions; employs the diagnostic and therapeutic measures of ordinary medicine in addition to manipulative measures.”

Osteoporosis: A disease of the bones in which the bones become thin and porous.

Ova: The plural of ovum.

Ovarian cyst: A fluid-filled sac or pocket on the ovaries.

Ovarian remnant syndrome: The presence of ovarian tissue in the pelvis after the ovaries have been removed; more common when adhesions and inflammation made the surgery difficult.

Ovarian wedge resection: The surgical removal of part of the ovary or ovaries.

Ovary: The female sex gland which produces the ovum and estrogen and progesterone.

Oviducts: Another name for the fallopian tubes.

Ovulation: The expulsion of the mature egg (ovum) from the ovary. It usually occurs on approximately day 14 of a 28 day cycle.

Ovum: The egg produced by the ovary each month.

P value: A number used to determine the significance of a statistical test. The smaller the p value, the greater the significance. A p value less than .05 means the test was significant.

Pain receptors: (also called nociceptors) Free nerve endings distributed abundantly in the superficial layers of the skin and in certain deeper tissues. Pain receptors are the first to respond to injury.

Pain threshold: The least stimulus at which a person perceives pain. The pain threshold may be lowered or raised by changes in temperature, the presence of certain chemicals, or other factors.

Palpation: Feeling with fingers and hands.

Papillar: Small, nipple-shaped elevation.

Pandemic: Epidemic on a global basis.

Parkinson’s disease: A disorder of body movement causing rigidity, tremor and difficulty or slowness of movement.

Pathogenic: Disease-causing.

Pathologically diagnosed: To identify disease through study of the changes in body tissues and organs, as in a laboratory analysis of tissue taken during surgery from areas presumed to be endo.

Pathophysiology:  The study of disease processes.

PCBs (Polychlorinated biphenyls):  A group of nonflammable chemicals that were widely used as coolants in electrical transformers, industrial lubricants, hydraulic fluids, and in “carbonless paper” from 1929 until they were banned in 1979. Some PCBs persist in the environment for more than 100 years.

Pedicle: Stem or stalk that connects a fibroid tumor to the uterine wall.

Pelvic cavity: The part of the abdominal cavity where the reproductive organs are located.

Pelvic congestion syndrome: A syndrome which occurs when varicose veins develop around the ovaries.

Pelvic examination: A routine gynecological examination of the reproductive organs in which the organs and their supporting ligaments are felt or ‘palpated’ by the doctor.

Pelvic inflammatory disease: An infection in the pelvic area that can be caused by a variety of bacteria and can attack various pelvic organs; often abbreviated PID.

Pelviscopy: Laparoscopy.

Peptides: Hormones composed of chains of amino acids (proteins).

Pericarditis: Inflammation of the outer membrane surrounding the heart.

Perimenopause: The time around menopause, which can be a few years before and a year after menopause.

Perineal: Pertaining to the area between the vulva and the anus in the female (and between the scrotum and the anus in the male).

Peritoneal cavity: The internal abdomen; the abdominal cavity.

Peritoneum (peritoneal): The thin membrane covering the walls of the abdomen and pelvis and the organs contained within them.

Pergonal: Fertility drug.

Peritoneal, Peritoneal fluid: Pertaining to the peritoneum or the fluid surrounding the abdominal organs.

Peritoneum: The thin membrane covering the walls of the abdomen and pelvis and the organs contained within them.

Peritonitis: Inflammation of the peritoneum; may be caused by internal bleeding or irritating substances from a ruptured cyst, gallbladder, or gastric ulcer.

Permeability: Condition whereby fluids and other substances can pass through.

Petechial: Minute, non-raised, purplish red spots.

Phagocyte: An immune cell that is able to surround and engulf microbes or cell debris.

Phagocytosis: The process by which microbes or other cells and foreign particles are ingested by large white blood cells called phagocytes.

Phospholipids: Molecules containing phosphate groups, glycerol, and fatty acids that are major components of the membranes of cells.

Phthalates:  Chemical compounds in plastics. Some have estrogenic activity. Some are cancer-causing. Phthalates used in IV bags, tubing, and dialysis equipment have been shown to leach out of the material into solutions and patients.  Phthalates in plastic wrap and food containers have been shown to leach into the food.

Physiological: Relating to physiology, the physical and chemical processes involved in the functioning of living organisms.

Phytoestrogens:  Weak, naturally-occurring estrogenic compounds found in some plants such as flaxseed and soybeans.

Picogram: One trillionth of a gram

Pineal gland: A gland located in the middle of the brain that produces melatonin in response to declining light.

Pituitary gland: A small gland at the base of the brain which secretes, regulates, and stores a number of hormones that affect the thyroid, ovaries, and adrenal glands as well as other parts of the body.

Plasma: The watery, colorless, fluid portion of the lymph and the blood in which the leukocytes, erythrocytes and platelets are suspended. It contains no cells and is made up of water, electrolytes, proteins, glucose, fats, bilirubin and gases.

Plasma cells: Antibody-producing cells found in the bone marrow, connective tissue, and circulating blood.

Polycystic ovarian disease: Simultaneous formation of many cysts on both ovaries; also called Stein-Leventhal syndrome. Symptoms include infrequent or no periods, failure to ovulate, and abnormal hairiness.

Polyendocrinopathy: A disease of a number of parts of the endocrine system.

Postpartum: Occurring after childbirth, with reference to the mother.

Precocious puberty: Precocious puberty is unusually early sexual maturation. It is sometimes caused by endocrine disease or, as in a well-known series of cases in Puerto Rico, by hormones in meat, or may be of unknown origin.

Preeclampsia: A metabolic disturbance of late pregnancy characterized by high blood pressure, edema, and excess protein in the urine.

Premature menopause: Before natural menopause would occur.

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS): Condition characterized by nervousness, irritability, depression, headaches, swelling and cramps; it occurs seven to ten days before menstruation and disappears a few hours after onset of menstrual flow. Appears to be related to fluctuations in estrogen and progesterone.

Prenatal, perinatal, and antenatal: Natal refers to birth. Pre means “preceding”; Peri means “the period shortly before and after birth.” (It’s the time period from the 29th week of pregnancy to 1 to 4 weeks after birth.) Ante means “before.” All of the three prefixes mean much the same thing connected to other terms (peri would mean around or surrounding).

Presacral neurectomy: A procedure severing the nerves at the back of the pelvis to help provide pain relief. 

Primary dysmenorrhea: Painful periods and other symptoms due to an imbalance in prostaglandins.

Privileges: Authority granted to a physician by a hospital governing board to provide care to the hospital’s patients. Clinical privileges are limited to the individual’s professional license, experience, and competence.

Proctoring: Supervised experience with expert colleagues; rare outside of medical school.

Proctoscopy: Direct examination of the interior of the rectum using a proctoscope, a short lighted scope or speculum, to allow the physician to see abnormalities.

Progesterone:  A hormone that prepares the uterus for reception of the fertilized egg.

Progestins: Synthetic hormones that have an action similar to progesterone.

Progestogens: Synthetic hormones that have an action like progesterone.

Prognosis: Prospect for recovery.

Prolactin: A pituitary hormone that stimulates milk production.

Proliferation: Rapid and repeated reproduction of new parts, as by cell division.

Prophylactic: Any regimen or agent that contributes to the prevention of infection and disease.

Prostaglandins: Substances found in semen, menstrual fluid, and various body tissues. Stimulate contraction and relaxation of the uterus and other smooth muscles. Also can lower blood pressure and affect the action of certain hormones.

Prostaglandin inhibitors: Drugs that suppress the action of prostaglandins.

Prostate: Gland in males surrounding the urethra at the bladder. Produces the milky fluid released with sperm during ejaculation.

Proteolytic enzymes: Enzymes that break a substance down into simpler compounds.

Provera: Synthetic form of the hormone progesterone.

Pseudomenopause: The creation of the hormonal conditions of menopause using drugs such as danazol, Lupron, or Synarel.

Pseudopregnancy: The creation of the hormonal conditions of pregnancy using birth control pills.

Psychosomatic: Having physical symptoms stemming from emotional or mental origins.

Pyelography (Urography): X-ray of the kidney and the ureters, involving injection of contrast dye.

Pyloric: Adjective form of pylorus, which is the part of the stomach that leads to the small intestine.