Definition of Terms

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Thomas W. Strahan Memorial Library
Standard of Care for Abortion
Abortion Decision-Making
Psychological Effects of Abortion
Social Effects and Implications
Physical Effects of Abortion
Abortion and Maternal Mortality
Adolescents and Abortion
Definition of Terms
Women's Health After Abortion
Material Yet to be Cataloged
Strahan Summary Articles

Definition of Terms

Cervical Injury: injury to the neck of the uterus or womb; the lower part of the uterus extending from the isthmus of the uterus into the vagina.

Chlamydia Trachomatis: an infectious organism that is neither a virus nor a bacteria. Some have called it a parasite. Its strains infect humans primarily and often are transmitted directly by close personal contact.

Curettage: Surgical scraping of cleaning by means of a curette, which is a loop-or ring shaped steel knife.

D&C (dilatation and curettage): forcing the enlargement of an opening of the cervix and then inserting a curette into the uterus to cut the developing child (or sometimes a dead child) into pieces and remove the pieces by scraping.

Ectopic Pregnancy: union of the egg and sperm and subsequent development in a location other than in the uterus. It often occurs in the fallopian tube. It is potentially life threatening to the woman and results in the death of the developing child. Sometimes called tubal pregnancy.

Endrometritis: inflammation of the lining of the uterus.

Febrile Morbidity: any infectious complication after induced abortion, including endrometritis, salpingitis, peritonitis or fever.

Febrile Reactions: symptoms indicating fever; sometimes called endrometritis.

Fitz-Hugh-Curtis Syndrome: occurs when the liver capsule becomes involved with inflammatory exudate that later leaves adhesions; a sudden pain in the abdomen, vaginal discharge fever chills are symptoms. Also called perihepatitis.

Incompetent Cervix: insufficiency; incapable of performing the allotted function; unable to retain an intrauterine pregnancy until term because of some deficiency in structure and function.

Induced Abortion: to cause or initiate by artificial means the termination of a pregnancy accompanied by or resulting in the death of the embryo or fetus.

Laminaria: inserting seaweed sticks into the cervix, which then swell and slowly dilate the cervix prior to induced abortion.

Laparoscopy: Examination of the contents of the abdominal cavity with a peritoneoscope passed through the abdominal wall.

Maternal Mortality: the number of maternal deaths which occur during the entire course of pregnancy and during the first three to six months following completion of the pregnancy per 100,000 live births.

Miscarriage: the spontaneous expulsion of a human fetus after the first 12 or 20 weeks gestation, depending upon the definition of spontaneous abortion, without apparent cause.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease: inflammation of the female genital tract. It starts in the cervix and may spread to any of the female organs and even into the pelvic cavity. It is a major direct cause of sterility.

Prophylaxis: measures designed to preserve health and prevent the spread of disease.

Salpingitis: inflammation of the fallopian tube or the eustachian tube.

Spontaneous Abortion: the spontaneous expulsion of a human fetus during the first 12 weeks of gestation without apparent cause. Some use this term until 20 weeks gestation.

Vacuum Aspiration: induced abortion in the early stages of pregnancy (not usually beyond 12 weeks gestation) by aspiration or suction of the developing child from the uterus through a narrow tube. Approximately 96 % of the induced abortions in the U.S. use this method.