Hysterectomy and Health Related Terms



17beta-estradiol/17b-estradiol/estradiol: the most potent, naturally occurring human estrogen. Manufactured primarily in the ovaries, it is predominantly found in the body before menopause.

Abdominal hysterectomy: removal of the uterus through a cut in the abdominal wall.

Androgens: any steroid hormone that promotes the development and maintenance of male or masculine characteristics, present in both men and women. Also see testosterone.

Antidepressant: any drug used to alleviate depression by altering chemicals in the brain.

Atherosclerosis: changes to the inside lining of arteries by the accumulation of lipids (fats), complex carbohydrates, blood and blood products, fibrous tissue, and calcium deposits. These plaque formations are major causes of heart disease, chest pain (angina), heart attacks, and other disorders of the circulation.

Beta-endorphins: a form of endorphin. Also see endorphins.

Bilateral oophorectomy: removal of both ovaries.

BSO (Bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy): removal of both fallopian tubes and ovaries.

Castration: the removal of one or both ovaries or testicles.

Cervix: the lower portion, or neck of the uterus.

Cholesterol: an essential component in the formation of the cell membrane, and several hormones, such as testosterone and estrogen. Cholesterol is manufactured by the body and is also found in the animal foods we eat. A large part of most gallstones, it occurs in plaque in the arteries, in various cysts, and in cancerous tissue.

Clinical Laboratory Scientist (C.L.S.): a person, who upon completing a Bachelor’s degree in the biological sciences, a one year hospital internship, and passes state testing then qualifies to be licensed by the state (in California) to perform and report laboratory analysis on blood and body fluids.

Corticoid-steroids: any of the steroids made in the adrenal cortex which are chiefly involved in carbohydrate, fat, and protein metabolism, or in the regulation of electrolyte and water balance. They are used clinically for hormone replacement therapy, as anti-inflammatory agents, and to suppress the immune response.

Cortisol: made by the adrenal cortex, it is the major natural hormone which affects the metabolism of glucose, protein, and fats. It also regulates the immune system. Hydrocortisone is the form used in treatment.

Dysfunction: disturbance, impairment, or abnormality of the functioning of a body organ or system.

Endocrine (organ) gland: a ductless gland that releases hormones directly into the blood. They affect the function of specific target organs and exert powerful influences on growth, sexual development, and metabolism.

Endometrial cancer: cancer of the lining of the uterus.

Endometriosis: the abnormal occurrence of tissue which resembles the endometrium (lining of the uterus) in various locations in the pelvic cavity, including the uterine wall, ovaries, or extragenital sites.

Endorphins: substances that bind to opiate receptors in various areas of the brain, one function appears to be to raise the pain threshold.

Estradiol: see 17beta-estradiol.

Estriol: a relatively weak, naturally occurring human estrogen. Primarily produced by the placenta during pregnancy, throughout the rest of women’s lives, it is a metabolite of 17beta-estradiol and estrone.

Estrogen (oestrogen): name given to a group of hormones produced by the ovaries, testis, placenta, and possibly the adrenal cortex; responsible for female sexual characteristics. The three important human forms, ranked in order of potency, are estradiol, estrone, and estriol.

Estrogen receptor: see receptor.

Estrone: one of the body’s natural estrogens, which is less potent than 17beta-estradiol. It is manufactured primarily in the fat, muscle, and skin tissues by conversion of the ovary’s estradiol, or the male hormones, androstenedione and testosterone. It is the predominant form of estrogen found in the body after menopause.

Fibroids: (fibroid tumors/leiomyomata/myomata) benign tumors which stem from the smooth muscle of the uterus. A common cause for heavy bleeding in women.

Fibroid tumors: see fibroids.

Fibromyalgia: a syndrome whose symptoms include widespread muscle pain, persistent fatigue, generalized morning stiffness, multiple tender points, and non-refreshing sleep.

Flushes: see hot flushes

Frankenhauser’s plexus: the lower portion of a large nerve complex that connects to the ureters, bladder, rectum, uterus, and vagina, which can be damaged during pelvic surgery.

Glucose tolerance test (GTT): a test of the body’s ability to process carbohydrates as well as its insulin response. Utilized in the diagnosis of diabetes, it is performed by giving a dose of glucose (sugar) and then measuring the blood and urine for glucose, at specified time intervals.

Gonadal (sex) hormones: chemicals secreted by the female or male sex glands (the ovaries or testicles).

Growth hormone (GH): a substance released by the pituitary gland which promotes protein (muscle) building, utilization of fat for energy, and reduces use of carbohydrates.

Gynecologist: physician specializing in the care and treatment of women and their diseases, especially those affecting the sexual organs.

High-density lipoproteins (HDL): the smallest, most dense lipoprotein (fat) in the blood. It beneficially performs the role of pulling cholesterol out of the body by transporting it to the liver for removal.

Hormone: a chemical messenger produced in organs of the body, transported by the blood, and having a specific regulatory effect on the activity of certain cells or organs remote from its origin.

Hot flashes: see hot flushes.

Hot flushes: also called hot flashes, temporary rises in body temperature, primarily associated with menopause.

HPA axis: see hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis.

HRT: hormone replacement therapy.

Hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA axis): many integrated functions of the body are regulated by the complex interactions performed by the secretion of hormones from the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and adrenal glands. They play key roles in: the body’s reaction to stress, immune and anti-inflammatory responses, regulation of carbohydrate metabolism, cardiovascular system, electrolyte balance; and the central nervous system, influencing behavior, mood, excitability, and electrical activity of neurons.

Hysterectomy: total or partial surgical removal of the uterus.

Insulin resistance (IR): a subnormal response to insulin, identified by GTT values which fall in between a normal response and a full diabetic condition. Investigators have identified that a subgroup of genetically predisposed individuals, who evolve into the non-insulin-dependent type of diabetes (known as NIDDM), begin with insulin resistance.

Laparoscope: a long slender instrument used for the visual examination of the interior of a body cavity.

Laparoscopic hysterectomy: a procedure for removing the uterus with the aid of a laparoscope.

LDL/HDL ratio: ratio of unhealthy to healthy fats in the blood, monitored to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Leiomyoma/leiomyomas/leiomyomata: a benign tumor derived from smooth muscle, most commonly the uterus, also called fibroids.

Lipids: any one of a group of fats or fat-like substances. Technically, it is a general term for a number of different water-insoluble compounds found in the body.

Lipoproteins: molecules that contain varying proportions of protein and fats, which are the primary transporters of fats and cholesterol within the bloodstream.

Low-density lipoproteins (LDL): intermediate in size and density between high-density lipoproteins (HDL) and very-low-density lipoproteins (VLDL). They transport cholesterol to body tissues.

MAO (monamine oxidase): an enzyme, found within cells of most tissues, that breaks down many nervous system chemicals, such as serotonin.

MAO inhibition/inhibitors: any chemical, hormone, or drug that stops the action of monoamine oxidase (MAO) from breaking down chemicals, particularly serotonin. As a drug, they are mainly used in the treatment of depression, due to their ability to preserve higher levels of serotonin in the bloodstream. 17beta-estradiol performs this function.

Menopause: physical loss of menstruation (periods), either as a normal part of aging, around the average age of 51.5, or as a result of surgery.

Myoma/myomas/myomata: a benign tumor made of muscular fiber in the uterus. Also see fibroids.

Myomectomy: surgical removal of a myoma or myomata, or uterine fibroids, while preserving the uterus.

Nardil®: a brand name for monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitor, used as an antidepressant.

Neurotransmitter: any chemical that changes or results in the sending of nerve signals across spaces separating nerve fibers. They are the essential substances nerves use to convey their messages to cells, enabling the body to respond accordingly.

Non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM): type II diabetes mellitus. An often mild form of diabetes of gradual onset with minimal and no symptoms of metabolic disturbance, with no requirement for insulin. Peak age of onset is 50 to 60 years. Obesity and possibly a genetic factor are usually present.

Oestrogen: see estrogen.

Oophorectomy/ovariectomy: surgery to remove one or both of the ovaries. Also known as ovariectomy or castration.

Oophorohysterectomy: the surgical removal of the ovaries and uterus.

Osteoporosis: a decrease in bone tissue with a reduction in bone mass along with increased interior space (small holes), resulting in thinning, demineralization, and weakening of the bones, making them more vulnerable to breakage from minimal trauma; sometimes accompanied by pain and/or body deformity.

Ovarian cyst: a small sack filled with fluid or semisolid material that grows in or on the ovary.

Ovariectomy: see oophorectomy.

Ovaries: the female gonads or reproductive glands, that correspond to the male testicles. Their function is to store and release eggs and to manufacture hormones.

Parathyroid hormone: a hormone secreted by the parathyroid gland, which helps maintain normal calcium levels in the bloodstream. This action in turn keeps the muscle tone, blood clotting, and cell membranes normal.

Parnate®: a brand name for monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitor, used as an antidepressant.

Partial hysterectomy: see subtotal hysterectomy.

Perimenopausal/Premenopausal: the 3 to 5 years before the menopause and when estrogen levels start dropping.

Pituitary gland: small endocrine gland situated at the base of the brain, which secretes many hormones that regulate growth and metabolism.

Placebo: an inactive substance given as if it were a real dose of a needed drug. They are used in drug studies to ensure that any changes are due to the experimental drug they are investigating.

Plaque: a patch of fatty build-up on the lining of a blood vessel. Atherosclerosis of the arteries.

PMS: see premenstrual syndrome.

Postmenopausal: occurring after the menopause.

Precursor: a substance from which another more active substance is formed.

Premarin®: a brand name for conjugated equine estrogens collected from pregnant mares’ urine.

Premenopausal: see perimenopausal.

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS): the diagnostic term used to describe a variety of physical, psychological, and emotional symptoms occurring just prior to menstrual flow (periods).

Progesterone: a steroid hormone produced by the ovary after ovulation takes place which prepares the uterus for implantation of a fertilized ovum (egg). It is essential for pregnancy, during which time it reaches levels 300 times normal. It is utilized in HRT and in the management of various ovarian disorders; excessive bleeding, amenorrhea (lack of periods), etc.

Progestin: see progestogen/progestagen/progestin.

Progestogen/Progestagen/Progestin: a term applied to any substance possessing progesterone-like activity: either natural progesterone, or a modified form having similar actions (synthetic progesterone), which produces changes in the uteral endometrium (lining of uterus). Synthetic forms produce biological responses which are different than natural progesterone. One primary utilization is in birth control pills.

Prolapsed uterus: see uterine prolapse.

Prophylactic: a procedure that prevents or helps to prevent the development of disease.

Prophylactic ovarian removal: the surgical removal of the ovaries utilized as a preventive measure against possible cancer.

Prozac®: a brand name for fluoxetine, an antidepressant which works by increasing available serotonin levels.

Receptor: a structure within a cell or on the surface which selectively binds a specific substance (e.g., estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, etc.), the binding of which creates a specific physiologic effect.

Reproductive organs: the male and female sex glands. In women these include the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and uterus.

Serotonin (5-HT): a brain neurotransmitter produced from tryptophan, which is found in high quantities in many body tissues, including the intestinal mucosa, pineal body, and central nervous system. It has multiple biologic effects in the body, including regulation of sleep, body temperature, blood pressure, learning, appetite, intestinal motility, pain perception, sexual behavior, reduces the breakdown of collagen, inhibits gastrointestinal secretion, and stimulates smooth muscle. Increasing its level is the basis of antidepressant therapy. Also called 5-HT, or 5-hydroxytryptamine.

Sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG): also known as testosterone-estrogen-binding globulin; a protein that is capable of binding estradiol and testosterone to carry these sex hormones through the bloodstream.

SHBG: see sex hormone binding globulin.

Sublingual: beneath the tongue.

Subtotal hysterectomy: the surgical removal of the body of the uterus, leaving the cervix in place.

Supracervical hysterectomy: see subtotal hysterectomy.

Supravaginal hysterectomy: see subtotal hysterectomy.

Surgical menopause: ending of menstruation due to the surgical removal of the uterus. More commonly used to denote the menopausal state brought on by surgical removal of the ovaries and/or uterus.

Testosterone: the major androgenic hormone associated with male secondary sexual characteristics; produced by the testicles and ovaries.

Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH): thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) is a hormone produced and released by the pituitary gland. It travels to the thyroid gland and stimulates the production of the thyroid hormones. It is one the hormones monitored to assess thyroid functioning. Estrogen is known to enhance the response of this hormone.

Total hysterectomy: the surgical removal of both the cervix and the body of the uterus.

TSH: see thyroid stimulating hormone.

Tubal ligation: also called tubal sterilization. Involves the blocking of the fallopian tubes as a means of birth-control. There are different methods: early methods involved cutting, tying, and burning of the tubes; more recent methods include microsurgery, and clipping the tubes.

Unilateral-salpingo-oophorectomy (USO): removal of one fallopian tube and ovary.

USO: see unilateral-salpingo-oophorectomy.

Uterine prolapse: the falling down of the uterus in varying degrees: from the cervix falling within the vaginal cavity, to the entire uterus outside the vagina.

Uterus: the womb of a woman. A pear-shaped hollow, thick-walled muscular organ that houses the developing fetus. It is becoming recognized as an endocrine (hormone) producing organ.

Vagina: a muscular tube about three inches long connecting the uterine cervix with the external female genitals.

Vaginal: of, or pertaining to the vagina.

Vaginal hysterectomy: removal of the uterus through the vagina, without cutting the wall of the abdomen.

Vaginal prolapse: the falling of the vagina, which can lead to its outward protrusion.


Source: Plourde, E. Your Guide to Hysterectomy, Ovary Removal, & Hormone Replacement. New Voice Publications, Irvine, CA 2002

This page was last updated October 25, 2005
& is located at


   RETURN to Site Directory



Medical disclaimer:  Always seek the advice and supervision of a health care professional when considering any information found on the Internet.  The information contained on this website cannot take the place of personalized medical advice and treatment from a qualified physician.  The reader should regularly consult a physician in matters relating to her or his health, particularly with respect to any symptoms that may require diagnosis or treatment.

Website disclaimer: Sans-Uteri Hysterectomy Forum, founded by Beth Tiner October 24, 1996, has been under the leadership of Drs. Elizabeth and Marcus Plourde since October 25, 2005.

Copyright notice:  The material on this PRIVATE list and website is copyrighted. information and listserv entries may not be reproduced, forwarded, or quoted from without written permission from the List Managers.

© Copyright 1996-2006