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Glossary of Terms

Biofeedback – A technique that uses different types of devices to give information on how well pelvic muscles are contracting, which can improve patient awareness and control of the muscle.

Constipation – A condition that occurs when a patient has infrequent bowel movements, excessive straining during bowel movements and/or passage of hard stool.

Cystocele – A condition where the front wall of the vagina sags downward or outward, allowing the bladder to drop from its normal position. This may be referred to as a “dropped bladder.”

Dysuria – Painful urination

Enterocele – A prolapse or protrusion of the small intestine into the space between the rectum and the vagina. This type of prolapse is most often seen in women who have undergone a hysterectomy.

Fecal Incontinence – Uncontrolled loss of gas, liquid or solid stool.

Fistula – An pathologic connection between the bladder and vagina or the rectum and the vagina which leads to leakage of urine or passage of stool from the vagina.

Hysterectomy – Surgical removal of the uterus, and sometimes the cervix. A hysterectomy can be performed through the vagina, through an incision on the abdomen, or laparoscopically.

Laparoscopy – A technique of surgery that utilizes a camera and scope and specialized instruments that allow the surgeon to use small incisions to perform surgery that would otherwise require larger incisions. This can be technically challenging, but often offers the patients a quicker recovery after surgery.

Mixed Urinary Incontinence – The condition where both stress and urge urinary incontinence exist at the same time.

Minimally Invasive Surgery – A set of techniques that are used in surgery to reduce the impact and recovery for patients. Examples include laparoscopy, robotic surgery and many types of vaginal surgery

Nocturia – Urination at night that is preceded by and followed by sleep.

Pelvic Organ Prolapse – A displacement, falling or sagging of the uterus or the vaginal wall into or through the vaginal opening.

Pelvic Floor – A set of muscles and other tissues in the lowest part of the pelvis that are very important in providing support to organs such as the bladder, vagina and rectum. The muscles are sometimes called “Kegel muscles” because they are involved in “Kegel” exercises.

Pessary – A device usually made of plastic (silicone not latex) that is designed to support the vagina from the inside, to correct vaginal prolapse, or, in some cases, to treat urinary incontinence.

Rectocele – A condition where the back wall of the vagina sags outward, allowing the rectum to bulge into the vagina.

Sling – A sling or hammock of material (synthetic mesh, organic materials, etc) is used to support the urethra and prevent stress incontinence.

Stress Urinary Incontinence – Leakage of urine with physical activity or motions such as laughing, coughing, lifting, or with exercise.

Urinary Incontinence – Leakage of urine that is beyond one’s control.

Urgency Urinary Incontinence (Overactive Bladder) – Leakage of urine that is accompanied by a sudden sense of needing to get to the bathroom to urinate. A common description is “not being able to make it to the bathroom in time” or “not getting your clothes off fast enough before the urine begins to flow out”

Uterovaginal Prolapse – A condition where the upper supports of the vagina and uterus/cervix are weakened, allowing the uterus and cervix to bulge downward and outward.

Vaginal vault prolapse – A condition that occurs after a previous hysterectomy when the top of the vagina bulges or sags into or through the vagina.