A Reproductive Lexicon


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The vagina is a muscular canal that extends from the bottom of the cervix (the cervix connects the uterus to the vagina) to the outside of the female body. During sexual intercourse, the penis enters the vagina.

Vaginal atrophy is the thinning and inflammation of the vaginal walls due to declining estrogen levels. This condition typically occurs post-menopause, but it can also occur during breastfeeding or at other times when the body’s estrogen levels are lower than usual. Symptoms include painful intercourse, vaginal burning, dryness, painful urination, and urinary tract infections.

Tube-shaped devices which are inserted into the vagina in attempt to relax the vagina and restore vaginal capacity. Dilator therapy may be prescribed to women who experience pain or difficulty when intercourse is attempted.

Vaginitis, or inflammation of the vagina, occurs when there is an upset in the balance of vaginal bacteria, during infection, or even after menopause when estrogen levels are extremely low. Symptoms of vaginitis include abnormal or smelly discharge, itching or burning, and pain during intercourse. Vaginitis can refer to bacterial vaginosis, a yeast infection (vaginal candidiasis), trichomoniasis, or vaginal atrophy (atrophic vaginitis).

The vas deferens is a duct of the male reproductive system that connects the testes to the urethra. It runs from the end of the epididymis toward the prostate, where it joins with the seminal vesicle to form the ejaculatory duct. The vas deferens functions in the transport of mature spermatozoa and secretes a fluid that is a component of semen.

Vasectomy is a surgical procedure that results in male sterilization and is performed for the purpose of serving as permanent birth control. The vasa deferentia (the tubes carrying the sperm) are tied to prevent sperm from being ejaculated, thereby preventing fertilization from occurring.

The vitelline membrane is a structure that directly surrounds the oocyte in lower organisms, such as insects, mollusks, amphibians, and birds. Its functional homologue in mammals is the zona pellucida.

Vitrification refers to a specific method of cryopreservation. Normally, when cells or tissues are frozen, ice crystal formation can damage the cells. Vitrification involves adding an antifreeze-like cocktail of chemicals to the cells or tissue before deep-freezing, thus preventing "freezer-burn."

The vulva is the external portion of the female genital organs. It includes the labia (majora and minora), clitoris, and the openings to both the vagina and urethra.

Vulvodynia is a condition where chronic pain is experienced in the vulva. There are many factors that are thought to contribute to vulvodynia, but it is a rather newly discovered condition, so further research must be done to pinpoint what exactly tends to cause this pain. It is thought that antibiotic use, sensitivity or allergies to different chemicals that may come into contact with the vulva, yeast infections, and various genetic factors may play some role.