Glossary

Sexual Health Glossary

Confused about a particular word or term used in a post? Check out the glossary below to find a simple description or explanation.

*If you cant find what you are looking for, don’t hesitate to send me a message and I’ll be sure to add it to the list!

A

Abortion: Ending of a pregnancy. It may happen spontaneously (such as in a miscarriage) or be induced (through termination of pregnancy).

Abortion Pill: The use of medication to terminate a pregnancy, usually using misoprostol or mifepristone.

Abstinence: Choosing not to have sex with anyone else.

Ace: Short for “asexual”. A person who doesn’t experience sexual attraction to anyone.

Adherence: A commitment to taking your treatment as prescribed by your healthcare provider.

Adolescent: The stage of development where you are developing from a child into an adult. Also known as a teenager or teen.

Adrenarche: During puberty when secondary sexual characteristic start to develop, such as pubic hair.

Agender: A person who does not identify with any gender.

AIDS: Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome. It is a condition caused by HIV, where the immune system doesn’t work very well and the body has difficulty fighting off infections and cancers. It is the most advanced stage of HIV infection.

Amenorrhoea: Not menstruating at all.

Anal Sex: Penetration of the anus by a penis, sex toy or fingers.

Androgen: A hormone that stimulates male sexual development during pregnancy and puberty. Testosterone is an example of an androgen. It is produced in the testicles and the ovaries.

Androgynous: A combination of masculine and feminine characteristics.

Anaesthesia: Medication that is used to prevent you feeling pain during a procedure. This can be given locally as an injection, or generally where you are put to sleep for a surgical procedure.

Analingus: A sexual act where the tongue is used to stimulate another person’s anus by licking. Also known as “rimming”.

Anorgasmia: The inability or difficulty achieving an orgasm with adequate stimulation.

Anti-depressants: Medication used to treat depression.

Anti-hypertensives: Medications used to treat high blood pressure.

Anti-inflammatories: Medication used to treat pain and swelling.

Anus: The opening of the rectum to the outside of the body.

Areola: The darker, smooth area of skin surrounding the nipple.

ART: Anti-retroviral therapy. A combination of medication for the treatment for HIV.

Asymptomatic: Having a condition, illness or infection where there are no symptoms.

Atrophic Vaginitis: A condition where the vaginal walls are thin, dry and inflamed. Usually happens during menopause when oestrogen levels drop.

Autoerotic: Being able to give yourself sexual stimulation through your own thoughts and fantasies.

B

Bacterial Vaginosis: An infection of the vagina by a mixture of bacteria, often due to a pH imbalance in the vagina. It is not sexually transmitted. It often causes a fishy smelling vaginal discharge.

Barrier Methods: Methods of birth control which prevent sperm from entering the uterus. These methods include: the diaphragm, cervical cap, external condom, internal condom, spermicidal foam and sponges.

Bartholin’s Glands: Two pea-sized glands at the opening of the vagina which help with lubrication of the vagina.

BDSM: A term used for a combination of sexual practices which may include Bondage/Discipline, Dominance/Submission, and Sadism/Masochism. There is often a more dominant partner and a more submissive partner. All activities are fully consensual which makes it different from abuse.

Benign: A condition or growth that is not harmful or dangerous.

Bigender: Someone who experiences and identifies with two genders, either simultaneously or at different times.

Biopsy: A sample of tissue, such as skin, which is taken with a needle or with surgery. The sample is then sent to a laboratory in order to come to a more accurate diagnosis.

Birth Canal: The passage from the uterus to the outside world that the baby moves through during childbirth.

Birth Control: A method used to prevent pregnancy. For example: condoms, the pill, the implant, or IUD.

Birth Defect: An abnormality present at birth, more appropriately known as a congenital disorder.

Bisexual: Someone who is attracted to more than one gender.

Bladder: The muscular sac that holds and stores urine in the body.

Blood Test: A healthcare provider takes a small sample of blood, usually with a needle and syringe, and sends it to a laboratory for testing.

Blow Job: The activity of performing oral sex on someone with a penis. Also known as fellatio.

Butt Plug: A sex toy that is designed for insertion into the anus. It has a flared base to prevent the toy from getting stuck inside the body.

C

C-Section: Short for caesarean section. The surgery performed to delivery a baby from the uterus via the abdomen.

Calendar Method: A type of fertility awareness method used to prevent pregnancy. It involves tracking your menstrual cycle, working out which days you will be ovulating and avoiding sexual activity on fertile days.

Cancer: A group of diseases where abnormal cells multiply rapidly and invade other organs. It can progress to severe organ failure and may be fatal.

Candida: A type of yeast that can cause yeast infections of the vagina when it becomes overgrown.

Casual Sex: Sexual activity without any commitment or emotional attachment.

Celibacy: Abstaining from any sexual activity.

Cervicitis: Inflammation of the cervix. It can be caused by infections, allergies or irritation of the cervix.

Cervix: The narrow opening at the lower end of the uterus, forming a passage into the vagina.

Chancre: A painless genital ulcer caused by syphilis.

Chancroid: A sexually transmitted infection caused by a bacteria which causes painful open sores and swollen lymph nodes.

Chest Binding: A technique used to minimise the appearance of breast tissue. It is used by a person who would prefer to appear more “flat-chested” and more masculine.

Chlamydia: A sexually transmitted infection caused by bacteria. It is treatable with antibiotics. If left untreated, it can lead to infertility.

Circumcision: The surgical removal of the foreskin of the penis.

Cisgender: Someone who’s gender identity is the same as the sex they were assigned at birth.

Cis Man: Someone who identifies as a man, and the sex assigned at birth was male.

Cis Woman: Someone who identifies as a woman, and the sex assigned at birth was female.

Climax: Another word for orgasm.

Clit: Short for clitoris.

Clitoral Hood: The fold of skin surrounding and protecting the very sensitive glans of the clitoris.

Clitoris: The sexual organ dedicated to receiving pleasure in people with vaginas. It is a wishbone-shaped organ surrounding the vagina.

CMV: Short for cytomegalovirus. It is a virus that can be transmitted through sexual activity, childbirth and breast feeding.

Coercion: Making someone do something they don’t want to do by using threats, emotional manipulation or intimidation.

Cold Sore: A painful crusting ulcer found around the mouth. It is caused by the Herpes virus. Also known as a fever blister.

Colposcopy: A procedure where the vulva, vagina and cervix are examined with a colposcope, which is a special magnifying glass.

Combined Hormonal Contraception: A birth control method that contains two hormones, oestrogen and a progestin.

Combined Oral Contraception: A birth control pill that contains two hormones, oestrogen and a progestin.

Coming Out: The process of accepting one’s own sexual orientation or gender identity, and choosing to share it with others.

Condom: A thin sac or pouch made from latex or polyurethane. There are two different types of condoms: internal condoms and external condoms. They are used as a barrier method to prevent pregnancy, as well as to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted infections.

Connective Tissue: A group of tissues that support the body. This includes fat, muscles, cartilage, blood vessels and nerves.

Contraception: Any method used to prevent pregnancy. Also known as birth control.

Cross-dressing: A cisgendered person who dresses in clothing traditionally for the opposite sex, for fun or entertainment.

Cryotherapy: The removal of warts or unwanted tissue by freezing them.

Cum: A slang word used for semen. It also can be used as a slang word for having an orgasm for a person of any gender.

Cunnilingus: Oral sex performed on a person with a vulva and vagina.

Cystitis: An infection of the bladder. Also known as a urinary tract infection or UTI.

D

Delivery: Childbirth.

Dental Dam: A square piece of latex or polyurethane that can be used as a barrier between the mouth and genitals during oral sex. It is used to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted infections.

Depo Provera: A brand of injectable contraceptive that lasts for 3 months. It is injected into the arm or the butt.

Depot Medroxyprogesterone Acetate (DMPA): The type of progestin found in Depo Provera.

Diaphragm: A shallow silicone cup that is inserted into the vagina and placed over the cervix to prevent sperm from entering the uterus. It is a barrier method of birth control. It is often used together with a spermicide.

Diarrhoea: Frequent passing of watery or loose stools.

Dilator: A silicone or plastic tube-shaped device that comes in a variety of sizes. They are used to help treat conditions, such as vaginismus, where the vagina muscles are too tight.

Dildo: A sex toy designed for penetration of the vagina or anus. It usually does not vibrate.

Discharge: The flow of a secretion or fluid from a certain part of the body, such as the vagina or penis.

Douche: Rinsing out the vagina with water or a cleansing solution.

Drag Queen: Traditionally someone who identifies as male, who dresses and behaves in exaggerated feminine ways for the purposes of entertainment. Any person of any gender can be a drag queen.

Drug Resistance: When a medication is not as effective as it used to be due to a mutation of a virus or bacteria.

Dry Humping: A sexual activity that does not include penetration or the exchange of bodily fluids. It can involve a range of sexual behaviours which may include the touching or rubbing of genitals through clothing.

Dry Orgasm: When a person with a penis has an orgasm without any ejaculation of semen.

Dyke: A term used for a lesbian who dresses and behaves in a more masculine way. Consider the term offensive or derogatory unless you self-identify as one.

Dysmenorrhoea: Painful or very uncomfortable menstrual periods.

Dyspareunia: When vaginal sex is painful.

E

Ectopic Pregnancy: A pregnancy that occurs outside of the uterus. The embryo commonly implants in the Fallopian tubes, but it can implant in other places, such as the ovary or inside the abdomen.

Ejaculation: A sudden spurt of fluid from the body, such as semen from a penis.

Embryo: The early stage of development of a foetus, usually between conception and the 8th week of pregnancy.

Emergency Contraception: Birth control used after an event of unprotected sex in order to prevent a pregnancy from occurring.

Endometriosis: When endometrial tissue (the inner lining of the uterus) grows outside of the uterus, usually leading to painful menstruation.

Endometrium: The inner lining of the uterus which thickens during the menstrual cycle before menstruation.

Epidemic: The widespread occurrence of a disease in a specific population.

Episiotomy: A surgical procedure where the area between the vagina and anus is cut in order to assist in the difficult delivery of a baby during childbirth.

Erogenous Zone: Any area of the body that is sensitive to sensual or sexual touch which can lead to arousal.

Erotic: Anything that is sexually arousing.

F

Fallopian Tubes: The tubes which provides a passage for the ovum or egg from the ovary to the uterus.

False Negative: A test result that incorrectly states that the condition or infection is not present.

False Positive: A test result that incorrectly states that the condition or infection is present.

Family Planning: The act of planning, controlling and spacing the number of pregnancies someone would like to have, as well as when to have them.

Fantasy: Any thought, dream or desire that causes excitement.

Fellatio: Oral sex performed on a penis. Also known as a blow job.

Female Circumcision: The cutting or removal of the clitoris and labia minora or entire vulva for non-medical purposes. Also known as female genital mutilation. It is illegal.

Female Condom: A polyurethane pouch or sac that is inserted into the vagina to act as as a barrier during penetrative sex. It is used to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. Also known as the external condom.

Feminine: Having characteristics that are traditionally seen as being for women or girls.

Feminism: The belief that all people deserve equal rights, opportunities, respect and treatment.

Femme: Someone who presents themself with what would be considered traditionally feminine.

Fertility: The ability to get pregnant.

Fertility Awareness Methods: Methods of birth control which require you to track your menstrual cycle to determine when ovulation will occur. With this method, you will determine your most fertile and least fertile days in order to plan sex and avoid pregnancy.

Fertilisation: When an ovum or egg and sperm join together.

Fetish: A sexual fixation on an object or act, that is not traditionally seen as sexual, which is necessary for sexual gratification.

Foetus: The next stage of development from an embryo at 8 weeks of pregnancy to birth.

Fibroid: An abnormal growth in or on a uterus. It can lead to painful menstruation or severe bleeding. It is not cancerous.

Fingering: A sexual act where fingers are used to stimulate a vulva, vagina or anus.

First Trimester: The first 3 months of pregnancy.

Fisting: The sexual act of putting a whole hand into a vagina or anus.

Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH): A hormone produced by the pituitary gland in the brain which stimulates the growth of an ovum or egg.

Fondling: Touching someone in a sexual way.

Foreplay: Any activity which may stimulate arousal before any kind of sex.

G

G-Spot: A sensitive area of the vagina located on the top wall, approximately 2.5-5.cm inside the vagina.

Gay: Sexual attraction to someone of the same gender.

Gender: A combination of social and psychological characteristics often influenced by societal expectations of what is traditionally male or female. This is not the same as biological sex.

Gender Binary: The cultural belief that someone or something is either distinctly male or female.

Gender Expression: The outward expression of a person’s gender through their name, pronouns, clothing and behaviour.

Gender Fluid: Someone who does not identify themselves as being distinctly male or female. Also can be known as non-binary.

Gender Identity: A person’s internal sense of whether they are male, female, neither or both. It can be the same as the sex the person was assigned at birth (cisgender) or not the same as the sex they were assigned at birth (transgender)

Gender Non-Conforming: Someone who’s gender expression does not conform with what is a typical gender norm for someone of a particular biologic sex or gender assignment.

Gender Norm: The informal rules and expectations placed on individuals by society to restrict them to certain male or female roles.

Gender Roles: Culturally defined rules for how males and females should think or behave.

Genderqueer: Someone who does not identify themselves as either of the conventional binary gender roles of male or female. They can identify with neither or both genders. Also can be known as non-binary.

Genitals: The external parts of the reproductive organs, such as the vulva.

Genital Warts: Small growths on the genitals caused by HPV.

Glans: The highly sensitive tip of the clitoris or penis.

Gonorrhoea: A sexually transmitted infection caused by a bacteria. Treated with antibiotics.

Gynaecologist: A medical doctor who specialises in treating conditions of the vulva, vagina, cervix, uterus, Fallopian tubes and ovaries.

H

Hand Job: A sexual act where a hand is used to stimulate a penis or vulva and vagina.

Healthcare Provider: A licensed medical doctor, nurse or clinical associate/physician assistant.

Heavy Petting: A sexual act where there is touching of a partner’s genitals.

Hepatitis B: A type of virus that can be transmitted sexually and via blood or sharing needles. It can cause severe damage to the liver.

Hermaphrodite: An offensive term for someone who has both male and female reproductive tissue. The correct term is intersex.

Herpes: A type of virus that affects the skin and can cause painful blisters. It is a sexually transmitted infection.

Heteronormativity: A cultural bias that assumes that everyone should be heterosexual and conform to certain gender roles.

Heterosexual: Someone who is attracted to a person of the opposite gender.

High Risk Pregnancy: A pregnancy which has a significant risk of developing complications during the pregnancy or during childbirth, which can result in harm to the pregnant person or the foetus.

HIV: Human immunodeficiency virus. A virus which attacks the immune system so that the body has difficulty fighting off infections and cancers. It can be sexually transmitted, passed from mother to child during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding, or through contact with blood or sharing needles.

Homophobia: The hatred or discrimination of people who are homosexuals.

Homosexual: Someone who is sexually attracted to a person of the same gender.

Hormonal Contraception: Birth control which contains one or two hormones in order to prevent pregnancy.

Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT): A combination of hormones or hormone-blockers which are used by transgender people who would like to change their secondary sexual characteristics. It is also used for menopause to relieve symptoms such as vaginal dryness and hot flushes.

Hot flushes: A sudden onset of warmth usually to the face, neck and chest which may be accompanied by redness and sweating. It occurs in people undergoing menopause. Also known as hot flashes.

HPV: Human papilloma virus. A type of virus which can cause warts or certain types of cancers. It can be sexually transmitted.

Hymen: A thin membrane which partially covers the entrance to the vagina.

Hypothalamus: The part of the brain which is responsible for controlling the levels of different hormones in the body.

Hysterectomy: The surgical procedure to remove the entire uterus from the body.

Hysteroscope: A special camera designed to look at the cervix and the inside of the uterus.

I

Immune deficiency: Also known as Immunodeficiency. When the body’s immune system cannot work as well to fight off infections and other diseases. Having an immune deficiency would make an individual susceptible to certain diseases that someone with a healthy immune system wouldn’t contract.

Immune System: The body’s natural defense mechanism that fights off infections and other diseases.

Implanon: A brand of contraceptive implant.

Implant: A type of birth control, containing progestin, in the form of a small plastic rod that is inserted into the upper arm. It can prevent pregnancy for up to 3 years.

Impotence: The inability to attain or maintain an erection sufficient for sexual penetration.

Incontinence: Loss of control of urination or bowel movements.

Incomplete Abortion: A type of miscarriage where some of the tissue from pregnancy has been passed via the vagina, but some tissue still remains in the uterus. This remaining tissue will need to be removed.

Induced Abortion: A voluntary termination of pregnancy, either done safely in a healthcare setting, or unsafely in unregistered facilities.

Inevitable Miscarriage: A pregnancy that will result in a miscarriage in the near future. Nothing can be done to prevent a miscarriage at this point.

Infection: An illness or disease caused by a virus, bacteria or fungus.

Infertility: The inability to become pregnant.

Inflammation: When the body responds to an injury or infection. Usually there are signs of swelling, redness and pain.

In Situ: Literally translated, it means “in its proper place”. It is used to describe when an organ or body part is in its proper place. It is also used to describe the location and spread of cancer. For example, if cervical cancer is restricted to the cervix and hasn’t spread anywhere else.

Intercourse: A sexual act in which a penis is inserted into a vagina or anus.

Intersex: A term used to describe a variety of different conditions where a person’s sexual characteristics do not fit into traditional definitions of what is male or female. The person may have different variations and combinations of chromosomes, genitalia, hormones and internal reproductive organs.

Intrauterine Device (IUD): A type of birth control where a small T-shaped device, containing copper, is inserted into the uterus to prevent pregnancies from occurring.

Intrauterine System (IUS): A type of birth control where a small T-shaped device, containing a hormone (progestin), is inserted into the uterus to prevent pregnancy.

In Vitro Fertilisation: A method of assisted reproduction where fertilisation of an ovum or egg takes place outside of the body in a special laboratory.

J

K

Kegel Exercises: Exercises used to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. This exercise is done by repeatedly squeezing and relaxing the muscles you use to stop the flow of urination.

Kink: An alternative sexual interest or preference which is not mainstream. Unlike a fetish, it is not absolutely necessary for sexual gratification.

L

Labia Majora: The outer folds of skin or lips of the vulva. Are usually larger, with pubic hair.

Labia Minora: The inner folds of skin or lips of the vulva. Are usually thinner with no pubic hair.

Labour: The process of childbirth.

Lactational Amenorrhoea Method (LAM): A method of birth control where you rely on breastfeeding very frequently in order to produce hormones to prevent pregnancy. This can only be done for a maximum of 6 months after childbirth.

Lactobacillus: A type of healthy bacteria in the vagina that helps to keep the vagina free of yeast infections.

Laparoscopy: A surgical procedure where a surgeon makes a few small incisions in the abdomen to allow a small device with a camera inside of the body. This allows the surgeon to see the internal abdominal and pelvic organs, and possibly take a biopsy or sample.

Laparotomy: A surgical procedure where a surgeon makes a large incision along the abdomen in order to view and repair internal abdominal or pelvic organs.

Latex: A type of thin rubber material used in condoms, dental dams and medical equipment.

Lesbian: A women who is sexually or romantically attracted to another woman.

Levonorgestrel: A type of progestin found in some hormonal birth control methods.

Libido: The desire for sex. Also known as sex drive.

LLETZ: Large Loop Excision of the Transformation Zone. A small surgical procedure done to remove precancerous changes of the cervix, to prevent cervical cancer from forming.

Lubricant: A slippery liquid or gel-like substance that is used to reduce friction during sexual acts, such as vaginal or anal sex or during masturbation.

Lymph Nodes: Small pea-sized orgasns in the body that produce and store infection-fighting cells.

M

Malignant: Harmful. Usually used to refer to cancer which can spread throughout the body.

Mammogram: A special X-ray of the breasts to detect signs of breast cancer.

Manual Vacuum Aspiration (MVA): A procedure done to remove pregnancy tissue from the uterus with a small suction device. It can be used as part of a termination of pregnancy or to remove any remaining pregnancy tissue after a miscarriage.

Mastectomy: A surgical procedure where the surgeon removes the breast.

Masturbation: Self-stimulation of the genitals for the purpose of pleasure with or without the goal of achieving orgasm.

Menarche: The first time a person starts menstruating.

Menopause: When a person stops menstruating due to hormonal changes occurring in the body. Usually happens between the ages 45 to 55.

Menorrhagia: Abnormally heavy menstruation or menstruation that lasts abnormally long with significant blood loss.

Menstrual Cup: A silicone device that is inserted into the vagina to collect the menstrual blood. It is one of the options available for menstrual hygiene.

Menstruation: The periodic, or monthly, flow of blood and fluid from the uterus. It is controlled by hormones. It occurs in cycles usually lasting 3 to 7 days and occurs every 28 to 30 days. Also known as a period.

Mini Pill: A type of birth control pill which only contains the hormone progestin.

Miscarriage: When an embryo or foetus dies before the 20th week of pregnancy. The pregnancy cannot continue.

Misogyny: The prejudice against or hatred of women. The belief that men are much better than women.

Missed Miscarriage: When a miscarriage occurs but time goes by without it being detected. Usually it will require the removal of the pregnancy tissue from the uterus.

Molluscum Contagiosum: A type of sexually transmitted virus which can cause multiple small growths in the genital or upper thigh area. It can also by spread without sexual contact.

Monogamy: The practice of only having one sexual partner at a time.

Mons Pubis: The soft, fleshy area above the vulva where pubic hair grows in adults.

Morning After Pill: A type of emergency contraception where you can prevent pregnancy by taking the pill within 3 days of unprotected vaginal sex.

MSM: Men who have sex with men.

Mucous Membrane: The thin layer of moist tissue that lines all body cavities that have openings to the outside world. Example: mouth, vagina, anus

Mucus Method: A form of natural birth control where the person makes careful observations about their changing cervical mucus patterns during their menstrual cycle.

Multiparous: Someone who has given birth more than once.

Multiple Orgasms: Experiencing more than one orgasm during one sexual experience.

Mutual Masturbation: Both people engage in self-stimulation of the genitals in the presence of another person.

N

Natural Family Planning: The use of fertility awareness methods to try and prevent pregnancy.

Non-Penetrative Sex: Sexual acts which do not include penetration of the vagina or anus by a penis or sex toy.

Norgestrel: A type of progestin found in certain hormonal birth control methods.

NSAID: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug. A type of medication used to treat pain and inflammation.

Nulliparous: Someone who has never given birth before.

Nuva Ring: A type of hormonal birth control. The ring is implanted with an oestrogen and a progestin. The ring is inserted into the vagina for a period of 3 weeks before it is replaced with a new one after a week of “rest”.

O

OBGYN: Obstetrician and gynaecologist. A doctor who specialises in pregnancy, childbirth and the reproductive system of women (and those with a uterus, ovaries and vagina).

Obstetrician: A doctor who specialises in pregnancy and childbirth.

Oestrogen: A type of hormone produced by the ovaries that is part of the menstrual cycle. It is responsible for producing and maintaining female physical characteristics. It is also used in birth control and hormonal replacement therapy.

Oncologist: A doctor who specialises in treating cancer.

Oophorectomy: A surgical procedure where a surgeon removes either one or both ovaries.

Opportunistic Infections: Infections that occur easily in people with weakened immune systems, such as those living with HIV, cancer or immunosuppressive medication.

Oral Contraceptives: Another name for the birth control pill.

Oral Sex: Sexual acts that involve using the mouth to stimulate the vulva, penis or anus.

Orgasm: The climax of sexual excitement and pleasure during a sexual act.

Out: When you are open about your sexual orientation or gender identity to those around you.

Outercourse: A type of non-penetrative sex where there is no penetration of the vagina or anus.

Ovulation: The part of the menstrual cycle where the ovary releases an ovum or egg.

P

Pansexual: A sexual or romantic attraction to those of any sex or gender identity

Pap Smear: A test done to detect cervical cancer in it’s early stages. A sample is taken from the cervix and examined under the microscope.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease: An infection of the cervix, uterus and Fallopian tubes caused by a sexually transmitted bacteria, such as chlamydia or gonorrhoea.

Perinatal: The period of time just before and just after childbirth.

Perineum: The area of skin between the vulva and the anus, or the scrotum and the anus.

Platonic: A relationship that is not sexual or romantic.

Polyamory: Having multiple sexual or romantic partners at the same time with the knowledge and consent of all of those involved.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS): A medical condition as a result of a hormone imbalance, leading to irregular or prolonged periods, acne and abnormal hair growth.

Polygamy: Having more than one spouse.

Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP): Medication that you can take to prevent getting infected with HIV (or other infections) after unprotected sex with someone with HIV.

Post Partum: The 6 week period following childbirth.

Pre-Cum: A liquid that is released from the penis during sexual excitement, before ejaculation takes place. This liquid may contain sperm and therefore pregnancy may be possible. Also known as pre-ejaculate.

Pre-Ejaculate: A liquid that is released from the penis during sexual excitement, before ejaculation takes place. This liquid may contain sperm and therefore pregnancy may be possible. Also known as pre-cum.

Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP): Medication that you can take daily to reduce your risk of getting HIV, especially if you are involved in high risk sexual activity.

Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS): A combination of physical and psychological symptoms occurring roughly a week before menstruation. Symptoms may include: mood changes, irritability, bloating, acne and tender breasts.

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder: A severe form of premenstrual syndrome. Symptoms are similar, but often can result in problems with work, social activities and relationships.

Primary Amenorrhoea: A condition where an individual has never menstruated before.

Pro-Choice: Supporting the right for an individual to have access to a safe and legal abortion.

Prognosis: The likely outcome of a medical condition or illness. Refers to the chance of a full recovery.

Progesterone: A hormone involved in the menstrual cycle which prepares the uterus for pregnancy.

Progestin: A synthetic form of the hormone progesterone used in hormonal birth control and hormone replacement therapy.

Prophylactic: A treatment or device used to prevent an infection, injury or worsening of a medical condition before it can happen.

Pubic Lice: Parasitic insects that are found in pubic hair that can be spread through sexual contact. Also known as “crabs”.

Q

Queef: A sound made when air escapes from the vagina under pressure. This usually happens during sexual activity where air has been trapped in the vagina during thrusting movements.

Queer: A general term used to describe a variety of sexual or gender identities that exclude straight and cisgender identities. The term can be offensive and should only be used by people who identify themselves as queer.

Questioning: When an individual is still unsure about their sexual or gender identity.

R

Radiation Therapy: High dose radiation or types of X-rays which are used to treat cancer and shrink tumours. Also known as radiotherapy.

Rape: Any type of sex that is not consensual at any point in time during the sexual activity.

Rectum: The lower end of the intestines or colon where stool is stored. It is directly before the anus.

Reduced Libido: A decrease in sexual interest or sexual desire.

Refractory Period: The time period immediately after orgasm where the body is recovering and it is impossible to become aroused again or have another orgasm.

Reproductive Organs: The ovaries, Fallopian tubes, uterus, vagina, penis and testes. Also referred to as the reproductive tract.

Resistance: When a virus or bacteria mutates and becomes stronger. It develops characteristics that prevent the medication from working effectively.

Resolution: The recovery period after orgasm where the body returns to the pre-aroused state.

Rhythm Method: A type of natural family planning or birth control. The individual must recognise and monitor the days where they are fertile during their menstrual period and abstain from sex on those days. Also known as the calendar method.

Rimming: A sexual act where the mouth, lips or tongue are used to stimulate the anus. Also known as analingus.

Risk Factor: A factor or characteristic that predisposes a person to develop an illness or medical condition.

Role-Play: Acting out a sexual fantasy with a partner.

S

Sadomasochism (S&M): The consensual use of pain for sexual stimulation. The sadist inflicts pain, and the masochist receives pain.

Safe Word: A word or phrase that is used during sexual activity to indicate that an individual is no longer enjoying that particular activity and must stop immediately.

Safer Sex: A more accurate term for describing taking precautions to limit the spread of sexually transmitted infections during sexual activity. This term is used as it is not possible to be 100% safe from sexually transmitted infections during sexual activity.

Scabies: A skin condition where a type of mite burrows into the skin, causing a red and severely itchy rash. It can be passed through sexual contact or through sharing close living spaces.

Scrotum: The sac-like skin surrounding the testicles.

Secondary Amenorrhoea: A condition where an individual who used to have normal monthly menstruation, suddenly stops getting their menstrual cycle each month.

Semen: The fluid that is ejaculated from the penis during sexual climax. It contains sperm and other fluids.

Sexology: The scientific study of human sexuality, sexual function and behaviour.

Sexual Addiction: When a person has an abnormally intense obsession or compulsion to have sex, which interferes with work, social activities and relationships.

Sexual Dysfunction: When an individual has a problem with one of the phases of the sexual response cycle, such as sexual desire, arousal, or orgasm, which prevents the individual from experiencing satisfying sex.

Sexual Health: The World Health Organisation defines sexual health as “the physical, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality. It requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination and violence”.

Sex Therapy: A specialised form of psychological counselling and treatment that is used to treat sexual dysfunctions, like low libido, painful sex, and being unable to orgasm.

Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI): An infection that can be transmitted through sexual activity with another individual. It occurs through unprotected sexual activity involving the vagina, penis, anus or mouth. Also known as an STD or sexually transmitted disease.

Sexual Orientation: An individual’s sexual identity in relation to which gender or genders that they are sexually or romantically attracted to. Examples include: straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, etc.

Sex Positive: Believing and accepting that sex is a normal, good, natural part of life and not something to be ashamed of.

Sexual Response Cycle: The pattern of physical and emotional changes that occur during sexual arousal and sexual stimulation. It is commonly thought to have four phases, namely: excitement, plateau, orgasm and resolution.

Sex Worker: An individual who is paid to provide sex or sexually arousing services.

Skene’s Glands: A pair of glands located next to the urethra. Also known as paraurethral glands.

Sonar: A type of medical imaging that uses sound waves to view the internal organs of the body. Also known as an ultrasound or sonogram.

Speculum: A type of metal or plastic medical instrument that is used to open up the vagina so that the healthcare professional can examine the cervix and vaginal walls.

Spermicide: A special foam, gel, tablet or suppository that is inserted into the vagina, up near the cervix. It is used to try and prevent pregnancy by paralysing the sperm before entering the uterus through the cervix.

Spotting: Light bleeding that occurs outside of the time of an individual’s normal menstrual period.

Stealthing: When a condom used during sexual activity is removed without the other person’s consent

Sterilisation: A surgical procedure where the fallopian tubes are tied or cut to prevent fertilization from taking place. It is done to permanently prevent pregnancy. Also known as bilateral tubal ligation.

Straight: An individual who is sexually or romantically attracted to someone of another gender. Also known as heterosexual.

Strap-On: A type of sex toy or dildo that can be attached to a person for vaginal, anal and oral sex.

Syphilis: A type of sexually transmitted infection caused by the bacteria Treponema pallidum. It is treated with antibiotics. If left untreated, it can lead to severe complications.

T

Taboo: A particular behaviour that is not the cultural norm. It is usually something that is discouraged by society and shouldn’t be spoken about.

Tenting: During sexual arousal when the uterus lifts and creates more space in the vagina.

Testosterone: An androgenic hormone produced by the testicles and ovaries.

Thelarche: When breasts start to develop during puberty.

Thrush: Another term for a yeast infection, usually caused by candida albicans.

Transgender: A term used to describe someone who’s gender identity and/or gender expression is different to the gender assigned at birth.

Transition: The process a person goes through when changing how they present to the world. This can mean many things.

Transvaginal Ultrasound: A special scan that uses sound waves to visualise the internal organs. A vaginal probe is inserted into the vagina to allow for better visualisation of the pelvic organs.

Tribadism: The sexual act of rubbing one’s vulva against the vulva of another person, or any other body part. Also known as tribbing.

Trichomoniasis: A sexually transmitted infection of the vagina caused by a parasite called trichomonas vaginalis.

Tubal Ligation: The surgical procedure done to prevent pregnancy by blocking or tying off the fallopian tubes. Also known as sterilisation.

U

Ultrasound: A type of scan that uses sound waves to visualise the internal organs.

Urethra: The tube that connects the bladder to the outside world, allowing for the passage of urine.

Urinary Tract Infection: An infection of the urethra, bladder, or ureters. Also known as a UTI.

Urologist: A doctor who specialises in the urinary tract and genitals.

Uterus: The pear-shaped reproductive organ where menstruation comes from, and is responsible for carrying a pregnancy.

V

Vagina: The stretchy muscular canal connecting the cervix of the uterus to the vulva on the outside.

Vaginal Atrophy: The thinning of the vaginal walls caused by low oestrogen levels.

Vaginal Dilator: Specially designed cylindrical objects used to stretch or enlarge the vagina, used for the treatment of vaginismus.

Vaginismus: Involuntary, painful spasms of the pelvic floor muscles which can make any kind of vaginal penetration very difficult or impossible.

Vaginitis: Inflammation of the vaginal walls, caused by irritation or infection.

Vaginoplasty: The surgical procedure done to create an artificial vagina.

Vibrator: A type of sex toy that vibrates.

Viral Load: The number of virus particles in a blood sample.

Voyeurism: The sexual act of watching someone else engage in sexual behaviour.

Vulva: The external part of the genitals, comprising of the inner and outer labia, the clitoris and the openings of the urethra and vagina.

Vulvectomy: The surgical removal of the vulva. Usually done for the removal of cancer of the vulva.

W

Wank: Slang term for masturbating.

Wart: A growth on the skin.

Wet Dreams: When someone has dreams of a sexual nature which result in vaginal lubrication or ejaculation.

Withdrawal Method: An unreliable method of birth control where the penis is withdrawn from the vagina before ejaculation to prevent pregnancy.

Womb: Another word for uterus.

X

Y

Yeast Infection: An infection caused by an overgrowth in a type of fungus called Candida albicans. 

Z