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Main glossary:
Active pills: Pills that contain chemically active ingredient(s). The active ingredient(s) allows the medicine to produce an effect in the body.1

Antibiotic resistance: This happens when the bacteria adapts and survives the effects of an antibiotic, making the antibiotic lose its effectiveness. This is caused by inappropriate use and prescribing of antibiotics.2

Blood clot: A blood clot can block blood vessels and lead to serious problems, such as venous thromboembolism, strokes and heart attacks.3

Body mass index (BMI): A simple method to screen for weight category, eg, underweight, normal or healthy weight, overweight and obesity. Calculated by dividing body mass (in kilograms) by the square of the body height (in meters2). For adults, a BMI of 18.5–24.9 is considered healthy. A BMI of ≥30 is obese.4

Cervix: The lower end of the womb (uterus).5

Chlamydia: A sexually transmitted disease caused by the bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis. Unprotected sex or having more than one sexual partner increases your risk of getting chlamydia.6

Cognitive behavioural therapy: A talking therapy that helps you to manage your problems by changing the way you think and behave.7

Dummy pills: Pills that contain inactive or inert substances. They do not contain chemically active ingredients.8

Endometrium: The inside lining of the uterus.9

Hormonal contraceptive methods: Contraceptive methods that prevent pregnancy by using synthetic oestrogen and progestogen hormones. These mimic natural hormones produced by a woman’s body. Some methods contain both oestrogen and progestogen, some contain only progestogen. Examples include the combined oral contraceptive pill, progestogen-only pill, vaginal ring, contraceptive patch, contraceptive injection, contraceptive implant, and intrauterine system.10

Hormone replacement therapy: A treatment that supplements the body with adequate levels of oestrogen, either with or without progesterone, to help improve some of the menopausal symptoms.11

Inflammation: A localized response which leads to redness, swelling, heat, and often pain in or on a part of your body, especially as a result of injury or infection.12

Long-acting reversible contraceptive: A contraceptive method with long duration of action and requires administration less than once per month.13

Oestrogen: An important hormone in the sexual and reproductive system that helps in regulating the menstrual cycle.14

Oestrogen therapy: A type of hormone replacement therapy to supplement the body with oestrogen, either in pill form, cream, or gel. This therapy is suitable for women who have had their uterus removed.15

Ovarian cysts: Fluid-filled sacs that form in or on a woman’s ovary. Normally, they do not cause any symptoms and disappear without treatment within a few months. However, they can cause symptoms if they rupture, are very large, or block the ovaries’ blood supply.16

Ovulation: The release of a mature egg from the ovary in women.17

Polycystic ovary syndrome: A common disorder among women of reproductive age that can be detected through an ultrasound examination. It is characterized by enlarged ovaries that contain small collections of fluid. This syndrome affects women by causing infrequent or absent/prolonged menstrual periods, excess hair growth, acne, and obesity.18

Progesterone: A female hormone important for the regulation of ovulation and menstruation.19

Progestogen: Synthetic form of progesterone, ie, a female hormone important for the regulation of ovulation and menstruation.20

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs): Infections that are generally spread by having sex or genital contact. Examples include chlamydia, genital warts, genital herpes, gonorrhoea, syphilis, HIV and pubic lice.21

Systemic lupus erythematosus: A long-term autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks its own healthy tissues by mistake, causing inflammation.22

Topical treatment: A treatment that is applied directly to a particular part of the body. Examples include creams, gels and lotions.23

Toxic shock syndrome: A rare but life-threatening bacterial infection caused by toxin produced by some types of Staphylococcus bacteria. 24

Vasectomy: A surgical procedure that is used as a permanent method of birth control in men. This method prevents the release of sperm when a man ejaculates.25

Venous thromboembolism: A result of blood clots in the vein and includes deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism. Deep vein thrombosis is due to a blood clot in the deep vein of your body (usually your legs). Pulmonary embolism occurs if the blood clot travels to your lungs.3


  1. US Department of Health and Human Services. Birth control pill fact sheet. Available at: http://www.hhs.gov/opa/reproductive-health/contraception/birth-control-pills/. Accessed 11 August, 2016.
  2. World Health Organization. Antibiotic resistance. Available at: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs194/en/. Accessed 9 August, 2016.
  3. American Heart Association. Venous thromboembolism. Available at: https://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/More/Venous-Thromboembolism-
    VTE_UCM_479052_Article.jsp. Accessed 9 August, 2016.
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About adult BMI. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/assessing/bmi/adult_bmi/. Accessed 9 August, 2016.
  5. MedlinePlus. Cervix. Available at: https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002317.htm. Accessed 9 August, 2016.
  6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Chlamydia - CDC fact sheet (detailed). Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/std/chlamydia/stdfact-chlamydia-detailed.htm. Accessed 9 August, 2016.
  7. NHS Choices. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). Available at: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/cognitive-behavioural-therapy/Pages/Introduction.aspx. Accessed 11 August, 2016.
  8. Drugs.com. What is placebo. Available at: https://www.drugs.com/article/placebo-effect.html. Accessed 11 August, 2016.
  9. Patient. Uterine (endometrial) cancer. Available at: http://patient.info/health/uterine-endometrial-cancer. Accessed 9 August, 2016.
  10. Patient. Contraception – General overview. Available at: http://patient.info/doctor/contraception-general-overview. Accessed 11 August, 2016.
  11. WebMD. Hormone replacement therapy for menopause. Available at: http://www.webmd.com/menopause/guide/menopause-hormone-therapy. Accessed 9 August, 2016.
  12. Oxford Dictionaries. Definition of inflammation in English. Available at: http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/inflammation. Accessed 11 August, 2016.
  13. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). Long-acting reversible contraception (update); September 2014.
  14. Endocrineweb. An overview of the ovaries. Available at: http://www.endocrineweb.com/endocrinology/overview-ovaries. Accessed 10 August, 2016.
  15. Cleveland Clinic. Hormone therapy. Available at: http://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases_conditions/hic-what-is-perimenopause-menopause-postmenopause/
    hic-hormone-therapy. Accessed 10 August, 2016.
  16. NHS Choices. Ovarian cyst. Available at: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/ovarian-cyst/Pages/Introduction.aspx. Accessed 11 August, 2016.
  17. American Pregnancy Association. Understanding ovulation. Available at: http://americanpregnancy.org/getting-pregnant/understanding-ovulation/. Accessed 9 August, 2016.
  18. Mayo Clinic. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/pcos/basics/definition/con-20028841. Accessed 9 August, 2016.
  19. Drugs.com. Progesterone. Available at: https://www.drugs.com/progesterone.html. Accessed 9 August, 2016.
  20. Patient. Progestogens. Available at: http://patient.info/doctor/progestogens. Accessed 9 August, 2016.
  21. NHS Choices. Sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Available at: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Sexually-transmitted-infections/Pages/Introduction.aspx. Accessed 11 August, 2016.
  22. Patient. Systemic lupus erythematosus. Available at: http://patient.info/health/systemic-lupus-erythematosus-leaflet. Accessed 11 August, 2016.
  23. DermNet New Zealand. Topical formulations. Available at: http://www.dermnetnz.org/topics/topical-formulations/. Accessed 11 August, 2016.
  24. Mayo Clinic. Toxic shock syndrome. Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/toxic-shock-syndrome/basics/definition/con-20021326. Accessed 9 August, 2016.
  25. WebMD. Vasectomy. Available at: http://www.webmd.com/sex/birth-control/vasectomy-14387. Accessed 9 August, 2016.