Glossary - Female anatomy
and female circumcision
This page lists and briefly explains abbreviations, acronyms, medical terms and suffixes relating to female sexual anatomy and female circumcision. Links within this page connect to more detailed explanations, drawings and photographs. Slang expressions are listed separately, here
. To request or submit additions or amendments to this glossary, click here
To jump direct to illustrations of the female sexual anatomy, click here
The uniting of two skin surfaces (usually implying "unwanted adhesion").
Towards the front. The opposite of Anterior is Posterior.
Pertaining to the cervix. Example: Cervical cancer.
The opening of the uterus (womb) into the vagina. Note that it is not quite at the end of the vagina. Rather, it enters from one side.
To perform circumcision.
The state of having undergone circumcision.
A metal or plastic device used to hold the condemned tissue in the required position during the circumcision procedure whilst simultaneously protecting the retained tissue from damage. The only Female Circumcision clamp known to CIRCLIST is the Rathmann Clamp
The surgical removal of the clitoral prepuce. Not to be confused with Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), a set of more radical procedures illegal in many countries. For more detail about female circumcision, click here
The surgical procedure in which the hood of the female’s clitoris (called the clitoral prepuce) is removed. The term is often confused in modern day writings with more drastic ritual procedures properly termed Female Genital Mutilation or FGM. Throughout the CIRCLIST website, we refer to female circumcision as only the removal of the hood of the clitoris unless otherwise noted.
One of the more severe forms of Female Genital Mutilation, involving the removal of the entire clitoris rather than just the tip. The labia minora (the inner lips of the vagina) are also sometimes removed, but the outer labia are left intact. The vulval cleft is left open, rather than being closed as in the case with Pharaonic Circumcision.
The vestigial organ that would have developed into a penis had the foetus been male. It comprises erogenous erectile tissue, most of which is concealed within the abdomen.
A birth defect - a foetal malformation - that is not (or primarily not) genetic in origin.
An anatomical term meaning "relatively further away from [whatever]". The opposite of Distal is Proximal.
An anatomical term meaning 'on the upper surface'. (Think of a Dorsal Fin on a fish.) The opposite of Dorsal is Ventral.
Surgery done as a matter of choice rather than of necessity.
A defect in the lining of the uterus causing heavy and sometimes irregular periods. The condition inhibits conception and therefore can be a primary cause of infertility.
The study of epidemics. Currently a 'hot topic' when discussing circumcision, on account of the link between circumcision and HIV infection rates. Applied Epidemiology: Medical and Social policy deriving from discoveries made through epidemiology.
A surgical incision through the perineum made to enlarge the vaginal opening and assist childbirth.
Erogenous (as, for example, in Erogenous zone)
Particularly sensitive to physical sexual stimulation.
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)
Surgical or ritual alteration of the female genitalia to an extent more radical than clitoral circumcision. Widely criticised and in many countries illegal. For more detail about female genital mutilation, click here
A surgical instrument designed to hold and grip tissue.
1) Literal meaning - a small frenum.
2) An elastic web of mucous tissue under the glans clitoris.
1) A narrow web or fold of mucous membrane passing from a fixed to a more movable part, serving to check undue movement of the movable part.
2) An anatomical structure resembling such a fold.
A physical defect or medical condition that is inherited, e.g. Haemophilia.
The tip of the clitoris, made up of highly sensitive tissue.
The virus responsible for most cases of cervical cancer.
A thin membrane of tissue that partly closes the vagina in virgins. Inevitably broken by sexual intercourse, it can also be destroyed by medical examinations, tampon use, masturbation, vigorous exercise, horse riding and suchlike. Its absence is not a reliable indication of past sexual activity, but its presence almost guarantees virginity unless surgical "restoration" has taken place.
A hymen that completely seals the vagina, trapping menstrual blood within the body.
Part of the process of Pharaonic Circumcision (q.v.), whereby the sides of the vulval cleft are sewn together.
Physical stimulation bringing about sexual arousal, not involving intercourse. Can be done alone or mutually.
See Urinary meatus.
The first menstrual period of a pubescent girl.
The shedding of the lining of the womb that occurs approximately every 28 days from Menarche to Menopause in a non-pregnant female. Often called a "Period", it takes the form of a modest discharge of blood from the vagina and lasts typically 5 days. Some women experience major mood swings in the days preceeding it.
Cessation of menstruation on account of age. Most women experience the menopause in their 40s.
The most severe form of Female Genital Mutilation in which the entire clitoris is removed along with the inner and outer labia. The sides of the vulva are then scraped, joined together and either sewn up with thread or fixed in the closed position with thorns. A small opening is left in order that urine and menstrual blood may pass through. The closure process is sometimes referred to as infibulation. A woman who has had this procedure must be cut open to allow childbirth, and then is re-sewn "to ensure faithfulness to her husband".
Towards the rear. The opposite of Posterior is Anterior.
The free fold of skin that covers, more or less completely, the glans clitoris of an uncircumcised female. Synonym: Clitoral Hood. During female circumcision, most or all of the prepuce is removed.
An anatomical term meaning "relatively closer to [whatever]". The opposite of Proximal is Distal.
A second or subsequent circumcision of someone who has already been circumcised.
The secretion of a sebaceous gland, producing a cheesy substance that collects between the clitoral hood and the clitoris.
Many words used by the medical profession at first seem to be unnecessarily complicated and incomprehensible to the layman. In fact they are highly structured; a very precise meaning can be 'unpicked' by separating the root from the suffix. Here is an explanation of some of those suffixes:
||Cutting something out, as in hysterectomy - surgical removal of the uterus.
||Measuring something, as in psychometry - the measurement of mental state and intelligence.
||Writing about something, as in ethnography - writing about race & culture.
||Studying something, as in epidemiology - the study of epidemics.
||Cutting through something, as in episiotomy - a surgical incision through the perineum made to enlarge the vagina and assist childbirth.
||Repositioning something. (There are no well-known "-pexy" surgeries relating to the female anatomy, so let’s stick with the male example of orchidopexy - correction of an undescended testicle.)
||Improvement of appearance or form of something, e.g. mammoplasty - a "boob job".
An Arabic word, literal meaning "tradition".
A relatively mild form of FGM that consists of the removal of the tip of the clitoris. In certain cases the clitoris is just nicked with a knife or razor; in parts of Mexico and South America, the sign of the cross is cut into it. The clitoral hood is sometimes also removed.
A surgical stitch. Suture material is designed to be very strong whilst being tolerated well by the body. There are two types of suture material: a self-dissolving ("soluble") one which lasts about a week and a non-soluble type, which has to be removed by the doctor and is used where the stitch needs to hold for longer periods.
The tube through which urine flows. (Do not confuse with the similar-sounding Ureter, the ducts connecting the kidneys to the bladder.)
The opening of the urethra, the point where urine exits the body of the female.
The reproductive canal of the female, into which the male’s penis is inserted during sexual intercourse and through which the baby is born. The word is frequently mis-used to describe the whole vulval cleft.
Pertaining to love and sex; literally "of Venus" (the Roman Goddess of Love).
An anatomical term meaning 'on the lower surface' or under side of [whatever]. The opposite of Ventral is Dorsal.
The external parts of the female sexual anatomy.
To return to the previous page that you were viewing, please use the BACK button of your browser. Alternatively, click on a link in the text above or choose another topic from the navigation panel below.
Copyright © 1992 - 2013, All Rights Reserved CIRCLIST.