Terminology for Her

Hertility:

We provide you with access to information about your reproductive health whilst guiding you through your fertility journey, from couch to clinic.

AFAB

An acronym for “assigned female at birth”. This term refers to a person who was born with female reproductive organs but does not identify as this gender.

ReProductive:

When you are productive with your reproductive health, and make informed decisions when it matters, not when it’s too late.

Ovarian Reserve:

This refers to the number of eggs a woman has remaining in her ovaries. This number declines with age until menopause. But everyone has a unique fertility curve, so everyone's ovarian reserve changes at a different rate.

Menstruation:

More commonly known as your period, this is the normal vaginal bleeding that takes place as part of your monthly cycle.

Microbiome:

The genetic material of all the microbes that live on and inside the human body, such as: bacteria, fungi, protozoa and viruses. Some microbes actually help our bodily functions, like the good bacteria in our gut. The bad guys that can cause diseases are called pathogens. Studies show that some of the pathogens that cause STDs such as chlamydia and gonorrhea can lead to infertility.

Papanicolaou Test:

AKA a pap smear is the test that involves collecting cells from your cervix to help detect cervical cancer or precancerous cells.

Endometrium:

The inner lining of your uterus, which thickens throughout your cycle and then sheds as you period.

Thyroid:

A butterfly-shaped gland located at the front of your throat which acts as the conductor of your hormonal orchestra. It regulates your metabolism, heart and digestive function, growth and development and temperature.

Pelvis:

The bony structure located between the abdomen and legs, which supports the intestines and houses your bladder and reproductive system. Your pelvis is usually broader and wider to give you the ability to undergo pregnancy and childbirth.

Cervix:

The narrow, cylinder-shaped passage that forms the lower end of your uterus, and it is this area of tissue that separates the vagina from the rest of your uterus. ⁠

Vagina:

The muscular canal that connects the vulva (the outer parts of your genitals) to the uterus. ⁠

Uterus:

A muscular sac located between the bladder and the rectum. Throughout your monthly cycle, the inner lining of the uterus thickens with blood, in preparation for a fertilised egg to implant itself. ⁠

Ovary:

The almond-sized gland that sits at the end of your fallopian tubes. Most are born with two ovaries, that produce and house your eggs until they are mature enough to leave in search of a sperm - AKA ovulation.⁠ Ovaries also produce primary sex hormones, oestrogen and progesterone.

Fallopian Tube:

The path your egg follows once released from the ovary during ovulation, to the uterus, where it awaits fertilisation. ⁠

Follicular phase:

The first phase of your cycle beginning on the first day of your period and ending on the day of ovulation. During your period the pituitary gland produces Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) which tells the ovaries to prepare an egg for ovulation. This is the time for the eggs to mature, until one is grown-up enough to flee the nest.

Proliferative Phase:

After your period, the lining of your uterus begins to build itself back up again, to make a cosy place for an egg to implant itself.

Ovulation:

The process of an egg fleeing the ovary and making its escape through the fallopian tube in search of its mate - the sperm - in hopes of fertilisation. Ovulation typically occurs at about day 14 of an average 28-day cycle.

Luteal Phase:

The time between ovulation and before the start of menstruation, when the body prepares for a possible pregnancy. As your egg rides off into the sunset, it leaves behind Corpus Luteum, or CL. This produces progesterone, a crucial hormone for keeping a pregnancy, but once the progesterone-pumping CL disintegrates, this phase ends.

The Secretory Phase:

The uterine lining produces chemicals that will either help support an early pregnancy, or get the lining ready to break down and trigger your period if pregnancy doesn’t occur.

Hormone:

A chemical made in a gland in one part of the body. The hormone travels through the blood to another part of the body, where it helps other cells do their job.

Sex hormone:

A hormone that affects and is made by the reproductive (sex) organs.

Androgens:

A group of hormones that play a role in male traits and reproductive activity. Don’t be fooled by the name, as they are found in both males and females with the principle androgens being testosterone and androstenedione.

Progesterone (PRG):

Produced by the ovaries, placenta and adrenal glands, progesterone is one of the primary female sex hormones. It’s main function is to regulate the lining of the uterus to provide your fertilised egg with a place to settle.

Oestrogen/Estrogen (E2):

The primary sex hormone for those AFAB, which is mostly produced by the ovaries. Oestrogen is responsible for setting your cycle in motion and keeping everything in check.

Anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH):

A hormone produced by the granulosa cells that surround a woman's immature eggs, as the eggs increase in size, AMH production halts. AMH is one of the best clairvoyants into your fertility future, as it can give a good estimate into your egg reserve.

Prolactin (PRL):

Made by the pituitary gland in the brain, prolactin is named after its important role in producing breast milk. However, it's also shown to have over 300 functions throughout our bodies. Out of balance prolactin can affect period regularity and also fertility.

Testosterone (T):

The hormone responsible for many ‘male’ characteristics. But, it’s not just for men… lower levels of testosterone are also found in women and is produced by the ovaries and adrenal glands. Most testosterone made in women undergoes a transformation into the Queen bee of the female sex hormones, Oestroegen.

Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH):

Produced in the pituitary gland in the brain, TSH helps to regulate the production of your thyroid hormones by the thyroid gland - the boss when it comes to regulating the body’s metabolism.

Sex-Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG):

A glycoprotein that is produced in the liver. SHBG is admittedly rather clingy, catching sex hormones such as oestrogen and testosterone in a big bear-hug to stop them in their tracks. This is to regulate your hormones, mopping up any overspill.

Hirsutism:

A condition found in AFAB people that results in excessive growth of dark or coarse hair in a “male-like” pattern eg. on your face, chest and back.

Heavy Bleeding:

Defined as either losing over 16 teaspoons (80ml) of blood during your period, having to change your sanitary products every hour and or your period lasting for more than 7 days.⠀

Endometriosis:

A chronic condition where tissue similar to the lining of a uterus, decides to go wandering and grow in places outside of the uterus, such as the ovaries and fallopian tubes, causing pain.

Hypothalamic amenorrhea:

is a condition in which menstruation stops for several months due to a problem involving the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is in the centre of the brain and controls reproduction. This is typically linked with stress, weight loss and/or excessive physical exercise.

Recurrent miscarriage:

is defined as 3 or more consecutive pregnancy losses and affects around 1% of couples trying to conceive.

Adenomyosis:

A condition in which the inner lining of the uterus breaks through the muscle wall. Its symptoms can include menstrual cramps, lower abdominal pain, bloating and heavy periods.

PCOS:

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a common endocrine disorder affecting 1 in 5 of reproductive age. Named after the appearance of the tiny fluid-filled follicular sacs in the ovaries, that house your immature eggs. Thought to be caused by an increase in androgens and a sensitivity to insulin.

Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS):

The name given to the symptoms you experience in the weeks leading up to your period. Linked to the changes in your hormones during the menstrual cycle the symptoms of PMS include: feeling anxious/upset/irritable, fatigue or insomnia, bloating and abdominal pain, spots and also breast tenderness. However, these symptoms differ for each person.

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD):

A severe form of PMS that can include symptoms such as depression, anxiety and even suicidal thoughts. It affects around 5-10% of those who menstruate.

Social Fertility Preservation

The process of saving or protecting eggs, sperm, or reproductive tissue so that a person can use them to have biological children in the future, due to social factors. This can include people not wanting a family now, but preparing for the future, knowing that age plays a large role in their fertility.

Medical Fertility Preservation

the process of saving or protecting eggs, sperm, or reproductive tissue so that a person can use them to have biological children in the future, due to medical factors. This can include people undergoing cancer treatment, people that have suffered a severe injury, or trans people looking to undergo hormone treatment or reconstructive surgery.

Pre-conception care:

The opportunity for you and your partner to improve your health before trying to conceive. Methods can include changing your diet and health regime or introducing supplements to minimise health risks for you and your unborn baby.

Combined Pill:

Looks true to its name. It's made up of a hormone combo of estrogen and progestin (man-made form of progesterone) to stop your body from ovulating and thickening the cervical mucus so no sperm wants to trudge through it.

Condoms:

Often made from latex, condoms are placed over the penis before sex to prevent sperm from entering the vagina. They are the only option that prevents both pregnancy and STIs.

Diaphragm:

Made from silicone, it is placed high inside the vagina to cover the cervix and prevent sperm from entering. Often used with spermicide (a cream that kills sperm).

Injection:

An injection containing the hormone progesterone is administered into the bottom every 3 months to prevent the release of an egg from the ovaries.

IUD:

AKA the copper coil. a hormone-free form of contraception which must be inserted into the uterus by a doctor or nurse. The T-shaped device releases copper, which alters your cervical mucus making it more difficult for sperm to reach your eggs.

IUD:

AKA the copper coil. a hormone-free form of contraception which must be inserted into the uterus by a doctor or nurse. The T-shaped device releases copper, which alters your cervical mucus making it more difficult for sperm to reach your eggs.

IUS:

A hormonal version of the coil, which releases small amounts of the hormone progesterone. This thickens the cervical mucus, making it more difficult for sperm to move through the cervix, and also thins the lining of the womb so an egg is less likely to be able to implant itself.

Implant:

A soft piece of plastic that is inserted under the skin in your arm. It releases progesterone to prevents ovulation and in turn prevents pregnancy.

Mini Pill:

The progesterone-only contraceptive pill, that must be taken every day (no breaks). This thickens the cervical mucus, making it more difficult for sperm to move through the cervix, and also thins the lining of the womb so an egg is less likely to be able to implant itself. It also suppresses ovulation, but not consistently.

Patch:

A square sticker that is placed on the arm allowing the skin to absorb both oestrogen and progesterone, preventing ovulation from occurring. The patch is changed once a week.

Ring:

A soft, plastic ring that is placed into the vagina, where it releases oestrogen and progesterone to suppress ovulation. You leave it in for 21 days, then remove it and have a 7-day ring-free break.

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