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Glossary of Terms

A description of words and terms used in menopause and women's health.

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Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) means a clot has formed in the deeply situated veins in the leg.

Early menopause

Menopause occurring between 40-45 years of age is called early menopause, with spontaneous early menopause affecting approximately 5% of women.

Endometrium

The endometrium is the lining of the uterus which is shed during menstruation

Endometrial Cancer

Endometrial cancer is a tumour that forms in the endometrium (or lining of the uterus)

Endocrinologist

A physician who specializes in the care of people with hormonal problems

Gynaecologist

A specialist caring for the health of women's reproductive system both medically and surgically

Menopausal Hormone Therapy (MHT)
Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)/ Hormone Therapy (HT)

MHT is when hormones are prescribed during the menopause transition and after the periods have stopped to alleviate oestrogen deficiency symptoms such as hot flushes, mood swings, vaginal dryness and to prevent or treat longer term diseases such as osteoporosis

HRT/HT is now referred to as Menopausal Hormone Therapy (MHT)

Hysterectomy

A hysterectomy occurs when a woman's uterus or womb is removed. She will no longer be able to bear children and will not have any further periods.  However the ovaries will continue to function producing hormones normally and will continue to produce hormones if the woman is premenopausal.

Intra-Uterine Device

(IUD, IUCD, IUS)

These are a reversible birth control method usually made of flexible plastic that is put in a woman's uterus by her doctor.  In addition to contraception, a progestogen releasing IUD may also be used for the treatment of heavy periods and as part of HRT/HT

Oestrogen/Estrogen

Oestrogen is a hormone produced primarily in a woman's ovaries.  It aids in the development of female sex characteristics and plays an important role in reproduction

Off-Label Use

Off-label is when a drug is used to treat a condition which is outside the specific purpose for which it was approved by Australia's medicines regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration

Oophorectomy

Oophorectomy is the term used to describe the surgical removal of one or both ovaries

Osteopenia

Osteopenia, sometimes called low bone mass, refers to bone that is thinner than normal where further bone loss may lead to osteoporosis

Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is the result of the gradual thinning of the bone which can lead to fractures that occur with minimal trauma.  Osteoporosis can occur as an  effect of menopause because of  oestrogen deficiency

Ovaries

Ovaries are the pair of female reproductive organs that produce and release eggs, and release the hormones oestrogen and progesterone into the body

Menopause

Menopause is the final menstrual period and said to have occurred when there has been no period for one year

Peri-menopause

Peri-menopause refers to the time from the onset of menopausal symptoms through to the last menstrual period particularly from the onset of irregular periods. It can last on an average of 4-6 years before the periods finally stop.

Post-Menopause

Post-Menopause starts one year after the last menstrual period

Premature Menopause

Premature menopause is menopause occurring before age 40 years and includes surgical removal of ovaries (bilateral oophorectomy). POI may also be included under this heading although cessation of ovarian function in POI is not always irreversible.

Premature (or primary) ovarian insufficiency (POI)

Menopause occurring spontaneously in women younger than 40 years of age affects approximately 1% of women. This was previously referred to as premature ovarian failure; however, the preferred term is now premature (or primary) ovarian insufficiency (POI).

Progesterone

Progesterone is the natural hormone found in a woman's body that helps prepare the endometrium (lining of the uterus) for implantation of a fertilized egg

Progestogen

Progestogen is a hormone which can be natural or synthetic, but has the same effect on a woman's body as progesterone

Progestin

Progestin is a synthetic hormone which has the actions of progesterone

Pulmonary embolus

A pulmonary embolus (PE) is when a blood clot formed elsewhere, travels through the system of veins and lodges in the lungs. This can be fatal.

Surgical Menopause

Surgically-induced menopause occurs when the ovaries are surgically removed.   Due to the abrupt cut-off of ovarian hormones, induced menopause can cause the sudden onset of menopause symptoms

Testosterone

Testosterone is the male sex hormone found in smaller amounts in women.  In women, increased levels of testosterone can lead to acne and can cause unwanted facial or body hair (hirsuitism).  Low levels of testosterone in women may contribute to loss of libido and sometimes low mood and energy.

Uterus

The uterus is the female reproductive organ in which a baby develops before it is born.  A menstrual period occurs when the lining of the uterus is shed each month.  The uterus is also called the womb

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Note: Medical and scientific information provided and endorsed by the Australasian Menopause Society might not be relevant to a particular person's circumstances and should always be discussed with that person's own healthcare provider.

This Information Sheet may contain copyright or otherwise protected material. Reproduction of this Information Sheet by Australasian Menopause Society Members and other health professionals for clinical practice is permissible. Any other use of this information (hardcopy and electronic versions) must be agreed to and approved by the Australasian Menopause Society.

Content Updated January 2016

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