ABDOMEN – the area of the belly, between the bottom of the ribs and the groin.

AMENORRHOEA – the absence of menstrual periods.

BONE DENSITY – a measure of the amount of mineral, mainly calcium, in a bone.

BONE LOSS – the process of losing bone density.

CANCER – a disease that is caused by the rapid multiplication of abnormal cells in any part of the body.

CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE – any disease of the circulatory system.

CERVICAL SMEAR – a test performed to check for abnormal changes to the cells on the cervix.

CHOLESTEROL – a steroid that is classified as a lipid that is a constituent of all animal cells. High blood cholesterol levels increase the likelihood of cardiovascular disease.

CIRCULATION – the movement of blood around the body, via veins and arteries.

CLIMACTERIC – the years of menopause, starting with the peri-menopause. Typically when you start experiencing menopausal symptoms.

CONTINUOUS-COMBINED HRT – a form of HRT where you take both oestrogen and progesterone.

CONTRA-INDICATIONS – the reasons for not using particular treatment, usually because it will be made worse.

COLLAGEN – a fibrous protein that gives strength and elasticity to skin, bones, cartilage and connective tissues.

CORTICAL BONE – the hard outer layer of the bone.

D&C – dilation and curettage

DILATION AND CURETTAGE – the procedure of scraping away the lining of the uterus, under general anaesthetic.

DOWAGERS HUMP – a curve on the upper spine as a result of compression of the spinal column. Often a symptom of Osteoporosis.

DYSMENORRHOEA – is pain that occurs before and/or during menstruation.

ENDOCRINE SYSTEM – manufactures and distributes hormones into the bloodstream.

ENDOMETRIAL ABLATION – removal of the inner lining of the uterus by the use of radio waves or laser treatment.

ENDOMETRIAL CANCER – cancer of the lining of the uterus.

ENDOMETRIOSIS – occurs when cells of the endometrium appear outside the uterus, resulting in blood blisters.

ENDOMETRIUM – the lining of the uterus.

EPIDURAL ANAESTHETIC – injection of anaesthetic drugs around the spinal nerves to abolish pain.

ERT – Estrogen Replacement Therapy.

ESTROGEN – the American spelling of Oestrogen.

ENZYME – proteins that cause chemical changes in other cells. They are necessary to break down or metabolize nutrients, drugs and hormones.

FALLOPIAN TUBES – the tubes connecting the ovaries to the uterus.

GRANULATION – the formation of scar tissue around the vaginal cuff when the cervix is removed.

FIBROIDS – non-cancerous growth in the wall of the uterus.

GYNAECOLOGIST – a doctor specialising in diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the female genital organs.

HDL’s – High-Density Lipoproteins.

HIGH-DENSITY LIPOPROTEINS – a form of cholesterol that attaches to low-density lipoproteins and allows them to be absorbed out of blood vessels.

HORMONES – substances made by the body that are transported by the blood to affect other parts of the body.

HORMONE REPLACEMENT THERAPY – the replacement of natural hormones by manufactured hormones.

HOT FLUSH – the sudden flow of heat to the skin, usually the face.

HRT – Hormone Replacement Therapy

HYPOTHALAMUS – the area of the brain regulating temperature, appetite, thirst and hormonal glands. At the base of the brain and connected to the pituitary gland.

HYSTERECTOMY – the surgical removal of all or part of the female reproductive organs.

IMPLANT – a form of HRT in which a small pellet is inserted under the skin, usually in the abdomen.

INSOMNIA – inability to sleep.

LIBIDO – sex drive.

LDL’s – Low-Density Lipoproteins

LOW-DENSITY LIPOPROTEINS – a form of cholesterol that can become attached to the walls of blood vessels, inhibiting the flow of blood.

MENOPAUSAL – refers to the menopause

MENOPAUSE – the final menstrual period.

MENSTRUATION – the monthly (usually) bleed.

METRORRHAGIA is vaginal bleeding, in-between normal menstrual periods. May or may not be associated with the post-menopausal period.

MINERALS – inorganic chemicals, essential to cellular function.

NATURAL MENOPAUSE – menopause that occurs naturally.

SURGICAL MENOPAUSE – menopause that occurs following a hysterectomy and/or removal of the ovaries.

OESTRADIOL – the most potent natural oestrogen found in the blood.

OESTROGEN – the female sex hormone, secreted mainly by the ovaries, responsible for female development.

OESTROGEN DEFICIENT – does not produce enough oestrogen.

OESTROGEN RECEPTORS – the areas of the brain that respond to the presence of oestrogen.

OESTRIOL – the weakest natural oestrogen found in the blood.

OESTRONE – natural oestrogen found in the blood.

OLIGOMENORRHOEA – infrequent menstruation, or periods.

OOPHORECTOMY – removal of the ovaries (unilateral – one ovary or bilateral – both ovaries).

ORAL HRT – hormone replacement therapy in the form of tablets.

OSTEOBLASTS – cells within the bone that form new bone by a constant process of rebuild and repair.

OSTEOCLASTS – cells within the bone that dissolve old bone so that it can be replaced

OSTEOPOROSIS – a disease where the bone becomes so porous, brittle and fragile that it breaks easily.

OVARIES – two organs on either side of the uterus that produce the hormone oestrogen and eggs for fertilisation.

PALPITATIONS – rapid or irregular heartbeats.

PATCH – an adhesive patch applied to the bottom or top of the leg, so that HRT can be absorbed by the skin.

PEAK BONE MASS – the period when the bones contain the most mineral, usually achieved by 30 – 35.

PELVIC FLOOR MUSCLES – muscles at the base of the pelvis, that support the pelvic organs.

PERI-MENOPAUSE – a time before menopause when the production of female sex hormones is reduced.

PITUITARY GLAND – gland in the brain that manufactures hormones controlling other glands.

POST-MENOPAUSE – after the final period.

PRIMARY POSTPARTUM HAEMORRHAGE – bleeding from the birth canal in excess of half a litre or excessive bleeding that lasts more than 24 hours after the baby is born.

PREMATURE MENOPAUSE – menopause that occurs before the age of 45, either naturally or surgically.

PROGESTERONE – a naturally occurring female hormone.

PROLAPSE – abnormal dropping of an organ, usually the rectum, uterus, vagina or bowel.

RDA – Recommended Daily Allowance.

RECOMMENDED DAILY ALLOWANCE – daily intake of vitamins and minerals recommended by government health agencies.

ROUTE – in this case means the way that HRT is administered.

SEX HORMONE BINDING GLOBULIN – a protein in the blood that binds with and transports sex hormones, at this time they are not active.

STROKE – when blood supply to the brain is affected so that normal function is reduced.

SUBCUTANEOUS HRT – an implant, usually in the lower abdomen or bottom.

SURGICAL MENOPAUSE – menopause occurring following surgery, usually hysterectomy or removal of ovaries.

TACHYPHYLAXIS – this is a condition some women taking subcutaneous HRT have a return of menopausal symptoms even though blood oestrogen levels are normal.

TAH – Total Abdominal Hysterectomy – the removal of the uterus and cervix performed through a cut in lower abdomen.

TESTOSTERONE – male sex hormone, small amounts are produced in women by the ovaries.

THROMBOSIS – blood clots that form in veins or arteries.

TOTAL ABDOMINAL HYSTERECTOMY – removes the womb and cervix

TRABECULAR BONE – the inner layer of bone that is most at risk from osteoporosis.

TRANSDERMAL HRT – HRT administered via the skin, either by patch or cream.

TVH – Total Vaginal Hysterectomy – removal of the uterus and cervix via the vagina

UTERUS – womb

VAGINA – the birth canal, leads from the uterus to outside the body.

VASOMOTOR SYMPTOMS – symptoms of menopause that are caused by constriction of the blood vessels, hot flushes, night sweats and some headaches.