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Sexual Health Terms

A drug, herb, or device that can cause an abortion.

The termination of pregnancy before birth.

Not having sex play.

Abstinence-Only Curricula:
Sexuality education programs that advocate sexual abstinence before marriage. They do not provide information about contraception, safer sex, or sexual orientation.

Acquaintance Rape:
Sexual intercourse coerced by someone known to the victim.

The period of physical and emotional change between puberty and adulthood.

Sexual intercourse between a married person and someone who is not his or her spouse.

Age of Consent:
The age at which one is considered old enough to decide to have sexual intercourse.

Age of Majority:
The age at which one becomes a legal adult.

AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome):
A set of conditions associated with the last stages of HIV disease.

Sacs inside the breast that produce milk.

Anal Intercourse:
Sex play in which the penis enters the anus.

Certain hormones that stimulate male sexual development and secondary male sex characteristics. They are most abundantly produced in the testicles of men but are also produced in small amounts in women's ovaries. The most common androgen is testosterone.

A gender identity that allows expression of both gender roles.

An eating disorder often caused by poor body image in which people, usually women, don't eat or eat very little to remain or become thin.

The inability to have an orgasm.

Opposed to the belief that women have the right to choose abortion.

The opening from the rectum from which solid waste (feces) leaves the body.

A substance that is supposed to increase sexual desire.

The dark area surrounding the nipples of women and men.

A paraphilia in which sexual arousal becomes dependent on being strangled up to the point of passing out.

Providing sexual stimulation for one's self.

Autoerotic Asphyxiation:
Self-strangulation for sexual arousal.

The ability to freely exercise one's own will.


An inflammation of the glans and foreskin of the penis that can be caused by infections (including sexually transmitted infections) irritations, drugs, or other factors.

Barrier Methods of Birth Control:
Contraceptives that block sperm from entering the uterus. These are the condom, vaginal pouch, diaphragm, cervical cap, and spermicide.

Bartholin's Glands:
Glands in the labia minora on each side of the opening to the vagina that provide lubrication during sexual excitement.

Basal Body Temperature Method:
A method for predicting fertility in which women chart when ovulation occurs by taking their rectal temperature every morning before getting out of bed.

A paraphilia in which sexual arousal becomes dependent on sexually attacking a nonconsenting, surprised, terrified, and struggling stranger. This is a kind of rape, but most rapes are committed by normophilic men.

Bimanual Exam:
Physical examination of the internal reproductive organs of the pelvis.

Binge-Eating Disorder:
Compulsive overeating.

The scientific study of life.

One who is attracted to people of both genders.

The organ that collects and stores urine produced by the kidney. The bladder is emptied through the urethra.

Blue Balls:
The genital aching that may occur when men do not have an ejaculation following sexual stimulation. Women may experience similar aches if they do not reach orgasm, but because of sexist influences in development of our language about sex, there is no common expression to describe a woman's symptoms.

Body Image:
One's attitudes and feelings about one's own body and appearance.

Bondage and Discipline (B and D):
Sexual role play or behavior that includes elements of sadism or masochism. Often one partner is bound or leashed.

Two glands on the chests of women. Men also have breast tissue. Breasts are considered sex organs because they are often sexually sensitive and may inspire sexual desire. They produce milk during and after pregnancy.

A swollen gland and sore caused by chancroid.

An eating disorder in which binge eating is followed by purging with laxatives or self-induced vomiting.

BV (Bacterial Vaginosis):
An inflammation of the vagina (vaginitis) that is caused by a change in the balance of vaginal bacteria.


Calendar Method:
A method for predicting fertility for women with regular menstrual cycles to attempt to predict their fertility by charting their menstrual cycles on a calendar.

A type of yeast and the most common cause of vaginitis.

Not having sex play.

The official suppression of information or expression.

Cerebral Cortex:
The area of the brain associated with higher functions, including learning and perception.

Cervical Cap:
A firm rubber cap intended to fit securely on the cervix. Used with contraceptive jelly, the cervical cap is a barrier method of birth control that is reversible and available only by prescription.

Cervical Mucus Method:
A method for predicting a woman's fertility by observing changes in her cervical mucus.

The narrow lower part of the uterus (womb), with an opening connecting the uterus to the vagina.

A sexually transmitted bacterium that causes open genital sores.

Chastity Belts:
A variety of devices designed to prevent women, men, or children from having sex. Used from medieval to modern times, these devices were also supposed to preserve morality. Some were meant to ensure fidelity in women in the absence of their husbands. Others were designed to prevent masturbation and nocturnal emissions in men and boys.

Chemical Castration:
The use of Depo-Provera to decrease sexual desire and arousal.

Child Abuse:
Sexual assault against a child by an older person.

Child Pornography:
Images of children designed to be sexually arousing.

A common sexually transmitted organism that can cause sterility in women and men.

An operation to remove the foreskin of the penis. See also Female Circumcision.

The time of change that leads to menopause. The physiological midlife changes for women and men.

An orgasm or to have orgasm.

A qualified health care professional, such as a doctor, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant.

Clitoral Hood:
A small flap of skin that covers and protects the clitoris.

The female sex organ that is very sensitive to the touch‹located between the labia at the top of the vulva.

Living together in a sexual relationship.

A viewing instrument with a bright light and magnifying lens that is used to examine the vagina and cervix.

Combined Oral Contraceptives:
Birth control pills that contain the hormones estrogen and progestin.

Coming Out:
The process of accepting and being open about one's sexual orientation.

Companionate Love:
Affection and deep emotional attachment that may be erotic.

Comstock Act:
An 1873 law that made it a federal crime to use the U.S. mail to distribute anything considered "obscene, lewd, lascivious, indecently filthy, or vile," including information about contraception, abortion, and sexual health.

The moment when the pre-embryo attaches to the lining of the uterus and pregnancy begins; term also used to describe the fertilization of the egg.

A sheath of thin rubber, plastic, or animal tissue that is worn on the penis during sexual intercourse. It is an over-the-counter, reversible barrier method of birth control, and it also provides protection against the most serious sexually transmitted infections.

Continuous Abstinence:
Having no sex play for long periods of time (months or years).

The prevention of pregnancy; birth control.

Contraceptive Creams and Jellies:
Substances containing spermicide, which immobilizes sperm, preventing it from joining with the egg; used with diaphragms or cervical caps. These are over-the-counter, reversible barrier methods of birth control.

Contraceptive Film:
Inserted deep into the vagina, a square of tissue that melts into a thick liquid and blocks the entrance to the uterus with a spermicide to immobilize sperm, preventing it from joining with an egg; an over-the-counter, reversible barrier method of birth control. Most effective when used with a condom.

Contraceptive Foam:
Inserted deep into the vagina, a substance that blocks the entrance to the uterus with bubbles and contains a spermicide to immobilize sperm, preventing it from joining with an egg; an over-the-counter, reversible barrier method of birth control. Most effective when used with a condom.

Contraceptive Suppository Capsule:
Inserted deep into the vagina, a solid that melts into a fluid liquid to immobilize sperm, preventing it from joining with an egg; an over-the-counter, reversible barrier method of birth control. Most effective when used with a condom.

Corporal Punishment:
A form of discipline that inflicts pain on one's body.

Corpus Cavernosa:
Two strips of tissue that lie on each side of the urethra in the penis. During sexual excitement, they fill with blood to create an erection.

Corpus Spongiosum:
The tissue that surrounds the urethra inside the penis and is responsible, like the corpus cavernosa, for an erection; also the type of tissue that forms the glans of the clitoris and the penis.

Cowper's Glands:
The glands beneath the prostate gland that are attached to the urethra. They produce a substance that makes seminal fluid sticky.

Cremaster Reflex:
An automatic response to stimulation (for example, cold temperature or touching the inside of the thigh) in which the cremaster muscle pulls the scrotum and testes closer to the body.

Women and men who like to occasionally wear various articles of clothing associated with the other gender for the fun of it (not for sexual excitement).

The condition in which one or both of the testicles do not descend from the lower abdomen before puberty.

Cultural Norm:
An activity, belief, or value that is shared by members of a particular culture. Deviation from cultural norms often invites scorn, ridicule, punishment, or banishment.

The shared beliefs, values, heritage, customs, norms, art, food, language, and rituals of a community.

An infection of the bladder.

An infection that may be transmitted through sexual or intimate contact that may cause permanent disability, including hearing loss and mental retardation for infants and blindness and mental disorders for adults


Date Rape:
Coerced sexual intercourse during a dating relationship.

Delayed Ejaculation:
Commonly used term for inhibited orgasm in men.

A progestin that is injected into the buttock or arm every 12 weeks to prevent pregnancy. It is a reversible method of birth control available only by prescription.

The feeling of great sadness that takes control over one's life.

A feeling of sexual attraction or arousal. The first stage of the sexual response cycle.

A soft rubber dome intended to fit securely over the cervix. Used with contraceptive cream or jelly, the diaphragm is a reversible barrier method of birth control available only by prescription.

The presence of many different kinds of people, including people of various racial and ethnic backgrounds, sexual orientations, and social classes.

Domestic Partnership:
The committed, long-term relationship of two unmarried people who live together.

Dominance and Submission (D and S):
Erotic activities that play out fantasies of power and powerlessness.

Dominant Culture:
The group that holds political, ideological, and economic power in a diverse society.

Don Juanism:
The desire by a man to have sex very frequently with many different partners.

Double Standard:
An unequal set of moral standards, rules, or expectations that allows one group to have more privileges than another group within a society. A sexual double standard, for example, usually places more restrictions on women than on men.

A spray of water or solution of medication into the vagina.

Painful intercourse for women that may be caused by hormonal imbalances, especially those that happen after menopause.


Early Ejaculation:
Ejaculation occurring before a man wants it to occur.

Ectopic Pregnancy:
A life-threatening pregnancy that develops outside the uterus, often in a fallopian tube.

The reproductive cell in women; the largest cell in the human body.

The moment when semen spurts out of the opening of the urethra in the glans of the penis.

Ejaculatory Inevitability:
The moment during sexual excitement when a man cannot stop his ejaculation. The prostate begins contracting and pulsing out seminal fluid.

Emancipated Minor:
A minor who has legal autonomy and usually lives on her or his own without financial support from parents or guardians.

The organism that develops from the pre-embryo and begins to share the woman's blood supply about nine days after fertilization.

Emergency Contraception:
The use of oral contraceptives or IUDs to prevent pregnancy after unprotected intercourse.

Emergency Hormonal Contraception:
The use of oral contraceptives to prevent pregnancy after unprotected intercourse.

The lining of the uterus that develops every month in order to nourish a fertilized egg. The lining is shed during menstruation if there is no fertilization.

The tube in which sperm mature. It is tightly coiled on top of and behind each testis. The plural of epididymis is epididymides.

An inflammation of the epididymis.

Erectile Dysfunction:
The inability to become erect or maintain an erection with a partner.

A "hard" penis when it becomes full of blood and stiffens.

Erogenous Zone:
Any area of the body very sensitive to sensual touch.

That which is sexually arousing.

Sexually arousing imagery that is not considered pornographic, obscene, or offensive to the average person.

Appreciation of the erotic.

Fear and anxiety about the erotic.

A hormone commonly made in a woman's ovaries. Estrogen's major effects are seen during puberty, menstruation, and pregnancy.

The period of fertility and sexual arousal in the female animal.

The belief that one's own country, culture, or ethnic group is superior to others'.

The body's physical response to desire and to stimulation. The second stage of the sexual response cycle.

A paraphilia in which sexual arousal becomes dependent on exposing the sex organs to those who will be surprised.

Women or men who expose their sex organs to other people without their consent, usually in public places.

External Sex and Reproductive Organs:
The sex organs and structures on the outside of the body that are primarily used during sexual activity. These include the vulva in a woman and the penis and scrotum in a man.

Extramarital Sex:
Sexual intercourse by a married person with someone other than his or her spouse.


Fake Orgasm:
The pretense of having reached climax in order to end sex play or please a partner.

Fallopian Tube:
One of two narrow tubes that carry the egg from the ovary to the uterus.

FAM (Fertility Awareness Methods):
Barrier methods of birth control for vaginal intercourse during the "unsafe days" of a woman's fertile phase.

A sexually arousing thought and mental image.

Solid waste that leaves the body through the anus.

Female Circumcision:
The practice of removing a girl's clitoral hood, clitoris, and/or the labia; often called female genital mutilation. This is practiced in some African, Near Eastern, and Southeast Asian cultures.

Female Genital Mutilation:
Female circumcision.

Characteristics and ways of behaving that a culture associates with being a girl or a woman.

The belief that women and men have equal social, economic, sexual, and political rights.

The joining of an egg and sperm.

Fetal Alcohol Effects:
Fetal abnormalities caused by alcohol during pregnancy that may not be as severe as those associated with fetal alcohol syndrome.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome:
Fetal abnormalities affecting growth, the central nervous system, and facial features that are caused by women drinking alcohol during pregnancy.

A paraphilia in which certain objects, substances, or parts of the body become necessary for sexual arousal.

The organism that develops from the embryo at the end of about seven weeks of pregnancy and receives nourishment through the placenta.

Strict observance of promises, especially of sexual faithfulness.

Physical and sexual stimulation (kissing, touching, stroking, and massaging) that often happens in the excitement stage of sexual response; often occurs before intercourse, but can lead to orgasm without intercourse, in which case it can be called outercourse.

A retractable tube of skin that covers and protects the glans of the penis.

Formal Values:
Socially sanctioned ideals for human behavior that may or may not be consistent with actual behaviors that are sanctioned.

Sexual intercourse between unmarried people.


The reproductive cell (egg or sperm).

Gang Rape:
Sexual assault committed by two or more people; also known as fraternity or party rape.


Physical or verbal assaults on people who are perceived to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender.

Gay Liberation Movement:
The movement to establish civil rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender women and men.

Gay Rights:
Civil rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people that are equal to those guaranteed to straight people.

One's biological, social, or legal status as male or female.

Gender Assignment:
Medical and legal description of one's gender that is given at birth.

Gender Dysphoria:
Conflicted feelings about one's gender, gender assignment, and gender identity.

Gender Identity:
Feelings about one's gender and gender role.

Gender Norms:
Social standards about appropriate feminine and masculine behavior.

Gender Roles:
Social norms about behaving feminine or masculine.

Gender Scripting:
The socialization process by which one is conditioned to adopt certain behaviors, preferences, and attitudes considered appropriate for her or his gender.

Gender Stereotypes:
Unrealistic expectations based on gender.

External sex and reproductive organs (the penis and scrotum in men, the vulva in women). Sometimes the internal reproductive organs are also called genitals.

The soft, highly sensitive tip of the clitoris or penis. In men, the urethral opening is located in the glans.

Hormones secreted by the pituitary gland that trigger puberty by stimulating the gonads.

The organs that produce reproductive cells‹the ovaries of women, the testes of men.

A sexually transmitted bacterium that can cause sterility, arthritis, and heart problems.

Remorse at believing one has done something wrong.

Sexual and reproductive health care for women.

A usually temporary condition during puberty in which the breasts of boys become larger.


HBV (Hepatitis B Virus):
An infection that can be sexually transmitted and may cause severe liver disease and death.

Someone with both female and male sex organs.

The bias that everyone is or should be heterosexual.

Someone who has sexual desire for people of the other gender.

HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus):
An infection that weakens the body's ability to fight disease and can cause AIDS.

Fear and hatred of people who are gay, lesbian, or bisexual.

Someone who has sexual desire for people of the same gender.

Including only one gender.

Hormonal Contraceptives:
Prescription methods of birth control that use hormones to prevent pregnancy. These include the Pill, implants, and injectables.

Chemicals that guide the changes in our bodies and influence how glands and organs work.

HPV (Human Papilloma Virus):
Any of 90 different types of infection, some of which may cause genital warts. Others may cause cancer of the cervix, vulva, or penis.

HSV (Herpes Simplex Virus):
An infection that can be sexually transmitted and cause a recurring rash with clusters of blistery sores on the vagina, cervix, penis, mouth, anus, buttocks, or elsewhere on the body.

A thin fleshy tissue that stretches across part of the opening to the vagina.

The exaggeration of gender-stereotyped behavior that is believed to be feminine.

The exaggeration of gender-stereotyped behavior that is believed to be masculine.

Having sex more often than most people.

Hypoactive Sexual Desire:
The lack of sexual desire.

Having sex very infrequently, or not at all.

A small area in the brain that regulates basic animal functions.


The attachment of the pre-embryo to the lining of the uterus.

Sexual activity between members of the same family.

Impulsive, usually short-lived, emotional and erotic attachment to another person.

Informal Values:
Social sanctions for behaviors that may or may not be consistent with socially sanctioned ideals for behavior.

Inhibited Arousal:
The inability to become sexually aroused and enjoy sex play, despite one's sexual desire.

Inhibited Orgasm:
Inability to have an orgasm.

Inhibited Sexual Desire:
The lack of sexual desire.

Feeling restraint due to fear or guilt.

Sexual activity between two people in which insertion of the penis occurs. This includes vaginal intercourse, oral intercourse, and anal intercourse.

Internalized Homophobia:
The fear of homosexuality within one's self.

Internal Sex and Reproductive Organs:
The organs inside the body that are responsible for producing, moving, and nourishing human reproductive cells. Because internal organs may be sensitive or respond to sexual stimulation, these organs are also called sex organs.

The closeness and familiarity we feel as we share our private and personal selves with someone else.

The tissue of the inner vulva that frames the opening to the vagina.

IUD (Intrauterine Device):
A small device made of plastic, which may contain copper or a natural hormone, that is inserted into the uterus by a clinician. A reversible method of birth control available only by prescription.


Anxiety about a partner's love and commitment.

Jock Itch:
A very common fungal skin infection in the genital area of men that is caused by wearing tight clothing, sweating, or not drying the genitals carefully after bathing. It can cause a reddish, scaly rash that can become inflamed, very itchy, and painful.


A paraphilia in which sexual arousal becomes dependent on stealing.


Labia Majora:
The larger, outer lips of the vulva.

Labia Minora:
The smaller, inner lips of the vulva.

Bacteria present in healthy vaginas of women. They help relieve vaginitis by limiting the growth of candida, a yeast.

LAM (Lactational Amenorrhea Method):
Breast-feeding as birth control for up to six months after childbirth.

A homosexual woman.

A white, sticky vaginal discharge that is normal during adolescence.

A synthetic progestin similar to the hormone progesterone, which is produced by the body to regulate the menstrual cycle; the active ingredient in Norplant®.

The sex drive.

A powerful and constantly distracting and obsessive infatuation.

Groups of alveoli sacs in women's breasts.

Long-Term Reorganization Phase:
The second phase of rape trauma syndrome, in which the victim tries to regain control of life.

A strong caring for someone else. It comes in many forms. There can be love for romantic partners and also for close friends, for parents and children, for God, and for humankind.

A blueprint of one's adult sexual appreciations and preferences that develops while one is growing up.

The desire for sexual pleasure.


X-ray photographs of the breasts that can detect cancerous tumors before they can be felt.

Marital Rape:
Coerced sexual intercourse within marriage.

Characteristics and ways of behaving that a culture associates with being a boy or a man.

A paraphilia in which sexual arousal becomes dependent on sexual role play or fantasy that includes receiving punishment, discipline, or humiliation.

Touching one's own sex organs for pleasure.

Megan's Law:
Federal and state laws that require police to notify citizens of the presence of convicted pedophiles in their communities.

The time of a girl's first menstruation.

The time at "midlife" when menstruation stops; a woman's last period; usually occurs between the ages of 45 and 55. "Surgical" menopause, however (which results from removal of the ovaries) may occur earlier.

Menstrual Cycle:
The time from the first day of one period to the first day of the next period; a repeating pattern of fertility and infertility.

Menstrual Flow:
Blood, fluid, and tissue that are passed out of the uterus during the beginning of the menstrual cycle.

The flow of blood, fluid, and tissue out of the uterus and through the vagina that usually lasts from three to five days.

The reliability of a contraceptive method itself‹when it is always used consistently and correctly.

Milk Ducts:
The passages in women's breasts through which milk flows from the alveoli to the nipple.

Birth control pills that contain only the hormone progestin.

Marriage or sexual relations between people of different races.

Molluscum Contagiosum:
A virus that can be sexually transmitted, causing small, pinkish-white, waxy, round, polyplike growths in the genital area or on the thighs.

Monogamous Relationship:
A relationship in which both people date or have sex only with one another and no one else.

"Morning-After" Pills:
Emergency hormonal contraception that is taken within 72 hours of unprotected intercourse.

Multiple Orgasms:
More than one orgasm occurring within the same sexual encounter.

Reciprocating equally with feelings and behavior.

Unfounded or false stories or ideas.


The dark tissue in the center of the areola of each breast in women and men that can stand erect when stimulated by touch or cold. In a woman's breast, the nipple may release milk that is produced by the breast.

Sexual preferences that are considered common or "normal" according to social norms.

A contraceptive system of six small soft capsules containing the hormone levonorgestrel that is inserted under the skin of the upper arm. A reversible method of birth control that is available only by prescription.

The desire by a woman to have sex very frequently with many different partners.


Sexually arousing imagery that is considered socially offensive.

Oedipal Conflict:
The Freudian theory that children have an unconscious sexual attachment to the parent of the other gender, causing them to be hostile toward the parent of the same gender.

Open Relationship:
A relationship in which both partners are free to date or have sex with other people.

Oral Contraceptive:
The birth control pill.

Oral Sex:
Sex play involving the mouth and sex organs.

The peak of sexual arousal when all the muscles that were tightened during sexual arousal relax, causing a very pleasurable feeling that may involve the whole body. The fourth stage of the sexual response cycle.

Sex play that does not include inserting the penis in the vagina or anus.

The two organs that store eggs in a woman's body. Ovaries also produce hormones, including estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone.

Available without a prescription.

The time when an ovary releases an egg.

See Cervical Mucus Method.


Pap Test:
A procedure used to examine the cells of the cervix in order to detect infection and hormonal conditions. It can also detect precancerous and cancerous cells.

ParaGard® (Copper T-380 A):
An IUD that contains copper and can be left in place for 10 years.

A sex practice that becomes necessary for sexual arousal but that is not approved by social norms.

Parental Consent:
Requirement that one or both parents give written permission for a minor child to receive medical attention or to enter into a legal contract.

Passionate Love:
Powerfully intense feelings of erotic attachment.

A paraphilia in which sexual arousal for an adult becomes dependent on having sexual contact or fantasies of sexual contact with a child.

Peer Pressure:
The efforts of a group of equals to maintain conformity to the group's social norms.

Pelvic Exam:
Physical examination of the vulva, vagina, cervix, uterus, and ovaries (usually includes taking cervical cells for a Pap test and a manual exam of the internal pelvic organs).

Pelvic Girdle:
A bony and muscular structure inside a woman's body that supports her internal sex and reproductive organs.

A man's reproductive and sex organ that is formed of spongy tissue and fills with blood during sexual excitement, a process known as erection. Urine and seminal fluid pass through the penis.

Perfect Use:
The contraceptive effectiveness for women and men whose use is consistent and always correct.

Performance Anxiety:
The fear of being unable to please a partner.

The period of change leading to menopause.

The days during menstruation.

Periodic Abstinence:
Not having vaginal intercourse during the "unsafe days" of a woman's fertile phase in order to prevent pregnancy.

Peyronie's Disease:
A rare condition that is caused by fibrous growths inside the penis.

Odors given off by animals that attract the other gender.

Physical Fitness:
A condition of good health that results from healthful foods, exercise, and regular medical checkups.

A paraphilia in which sexual arousal becomes dependent on viewing pornographic pictures, movies, or videos with or without a partner.

PID (Pelvic Inflammatory Disease):
An infection of a woman's internal reproductive system that can lead to sterility, ectopic pregnancy, and chronic pain. It is often caused by sexually transmitted infections such as gonorrhea and chlamydia.

Pill, The:
Common expression for oral hormonal contraception.

The stage of sexual arousal in which a person has been sexually excited and may approach orgasm. The third stage of the sexual response cycle.

Having more than one spouse.

Erotic imagery that is considered obscene and offensive.

Post-Ovulation Method:
A method of contraception using periodic abstinence or FAMs from the beginning of menstruation until the morning of the fourth day after predicted ovulation (more than half of the menstrual cycle).

The liquid that oozes out of the penis during sexual excitement before ejaculation; produced by the Cowper's glands.

The ball of cells that develops from the fertilized egg until after about nine days, when it attaches to the lining of the uterus and the embryo is formed.

Premarital Sex:
Sexual intercourse between people before marriage.

Premature Ejaculation:
Ejaculation occurring before a man wants it to occur‹often before his partner reaches orgasm.

A continuous partial erection without sexual stimulation that is caused by dysfunctional blood flow into the corpus cavernosa.

Primary Sex Characteristics:
The body organs and reproductive structures and functions that differ between women and men. The differences include the external and internal sex and reproductive organs. It also includes a woman's ability to produce eggs and a man's ability to produce sperm.

The belief that women have the right to choose abortion.

An IUD containing natural hormones that must be replaced every year.

A hormone produced in the ovaries of women that is important in puberty, menstruation, and pregnancy.

A synthetic progesterone.

A device used to prevent infection; the condom.

An internal reproductive organ below the bladder that produces a fluid that helps sperm move.

An enlargement and inflammation of the prostate gland that results in a dull persistent pain in the lower back, testes, scrotum, and glans of the penis. There may also be a thin mucus discharge from the penis, especially in the morning.

The performance of sexual acts for pay.

The study of the mind and its processes.

A time in life when a girl is becoming a woman and a boy is becoming a man. Puberty is marked by physical changes of the body such as breast development and menstruation in girls and facial hair growth and ejaculation in boys.

Pubic Hair:
Hair that grows in the genital area of women and men. Pubic hair is a secondary sex characteristic appearing at puberty.

Pubic Lice:
Tiny insects that can be sexually transmitted. They live in pubic hair and cause intense itching in the genitals or anus.

Early American Protestant colonists who established English laws and social and sexual mores in the northeastern United States. Though actually less sexually restrictive than commonly believed, the Puritan is now the symbol of sexual suppression.


Coerced sexual intercourse.

Rape Trauma Syndrome:
The emotional and physical consequences one experiences after being sexually assaulted.

Rapid Orgasm:
When a woman climaxes more quickly than her partner and loses interest in continued sex play.

Reality-Based Sexuality Education:
Age-appropriate, culturally sensitive sexuality education programs that include open, nonjudgmental information about all aspects of sexuality; they encourage critical thinking, self-actualization, and behavioral changes through the empowerment of holistic knowledge about the body, sex, relationships, birth control, safer sex, gender role, and so on, by being realistic about people's lives. Also referred to as comprehensive sexuality education.

Rectovaginal Exam:
Physical examination of the reproductive organs and the tissues that separate the vagina and rectum.

The lowest end of the intestine before the anus, where solid waste (feces) is stored.

Refractory Period:
The time after ejaculation during which a man is not able to have an erection.

Reproductive Cell:
The unique cell (egg in women, sperm in men) that can join with its opposite to make reproduction possible.

The period after orgasm in which the body returns to a nonstimulated state. The last stage in the sexual response cycle.

Retarded Ejaculation:
Commonly used term for inhibited orgasm in men.

Retrograde Ejaculation:
An ejaculation from the prostate into the bladder.

"Rhythm" Method:
See Calendar Method.

Roe v. Wade:
The 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion.

Role Play:
Acting out a fantasy with a partner.

Romantic Love:
An idealized love relationship that is often as unrealistic as it is passionate. In courtship, romance may have elements of flattery, excitement, and the feeling of being "swept away," as in a fairy tale.

The period of sexual arousal in male animals that is a response to estrus.


Devoted to religious purpose.

A paraphilia in which sexual arousal becomes dependent on sexual role play or fantasy that includes giving punishment, discipline, or humiliation.

Sadomasochism (S and M):
The consensual use of domination and/or pain for sexual stimulation in sex play. The "sadist" is the partner who dominates and inflicts pain. The "masochist" is the partner who is dominated and receives pain.

Safer Sex:
Ways in which people reduce the risk of getting sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.

Safe Word:
A previously agreed upon signal that means a partner is no longer enjoying a sexual activity and it must stop.

The group of people or subjects studied in a research project.

Sanitary Pad:
An absorbent "napkin" made of cotton or similar fibers that is worn against the vulva to absorb menstrual flow.

The desire by a man to have sex very frequently with many different partners.

Tiny mites that can be sexually transmitted. They burrow under the skin, causing intense itching (usually at night) and small bumps or rashes that appear in dirty-looking, small curling lines, especially on the penis, between the fingers, on buttocks, breasts, wrists, and thighs, and around the navel.

A sac of skin, divided into two parts, enclosing the testes, epididymides, and a part of the vasa deferentia. Secondary

Sex Characteristics:
Characteristics of the body that are caused by hormones, develop during puberty, and last through adult life. For women, these include breast development and widened hips. For men, they include facial hair development. Both genders develop pubic hair and underarm hair.

Devoted to human purpose.

Self-respect; worthwhile feeling.

Fluid containing sperm that is ejaculated during sexual excitement. Semen is composed of seminal fluid from the seminal vesicles, fluid from the prostate, and fluid from the Cowper's glands.

Seminal Fluid:
A fluid that nourishes and helps sperm to move. Seminal fluid is made in the seminal vesicles.

Seminal Vesicle:
One of two small organs located beneath the bladder that produce seminal fluid.

Seminiferous Tubules:
A network of tiny tubules in the testes that constantly produce sperm. Seminiferous tubules also produce androgens, the "male" sex hormones.

Gender; the act of sex play.

Sex Cell:
A reproductive cell.

Sex Drive:
Our natural urge and desire to have sex.

Bias against a certain gender‹especially against women.

The scientific study of sex and sexuality through many disciplines including, but not limited to, anthropology, biology, sociology, history, psychology, medicine, and law.

Sex Play:
Any voluntary sexual activity, with or without a partner.

Sex Therapy:
Treatment to resolve a sexual problem or dysfunction such as premature ejaculation, inability to have orgasm, or low level of sexual desire.

Sexual Abuse:
Sexual activity that is harmful or not consensual.

Sexual Addiction:
The compulsive search for having very frequent sex.

Sexual Assault:
The use of force or coercion, physical or psychological, to make a person engage in sexual activity.

Sexual Aversion Disorder:
The fear of sexual contact.

Sexual Compulsion:
An obsession with having very frequent sex, often with many different sex partners.

Sexual Compulsives Anonymous:
A self-help recovery group for women and men who want to control what they believe to be sexual addictions.

Sexual Conflict:
The clash between sex drive and sexual inhibition.

Sexual Desire:
A strong physically arousing attraction.

Sexual Discomfort:
Feelings of sexual inhibition that are not as severe as dysfunctions.

Sexual Double Standard:
See Double Standard.

Sexual Dysfunction:
A psychological or physical disorder of sexual function.

Sexual Harassment:
Unwanted sexual advances with suggestive gestures, language, or touching.

Sexual Identity:
Feelings about one's own sexual orientation, gender, gender role, and gender identity.

The interplay of gender, gender role, gender identity, sexual orientation, sexual preference, and social norms as they affect physical, emotional, and spiritual life.

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs):
Infections that are often or usually passed from one person to another during sexual or intimate contact.

Sexual Norm:
A cultural norm regarding sex or sexuality.

Sexual Orientation:
The term used to describe the gender of the objects of our sexual desires. People who feel sexual desire for members of the other gender are heterosexual, or straight. People who feel sexual desire for people of the same gender are homosexual, or gay. Gay women are called lesbians. People who are attracted to both genders are bisexuals.

Sexual Repression:
The suppression of sexual activities, ideas, or identities that are perceived to be harmful or morally wrong.

Sexual Response Cycle:
The pattern of response to sexual stimulation. The five stages of the cycle are desire, excitement, plateau, orgasm, and resolution.

Sexual Seduction:
Legally, the encouragement of a younger or less mature person into an illegal sexual situation.

Sexual Stereotype:
An overly simplified judgment or bias regarding the sexuality of a person or group.

Sex Worker:
One who is paid for providing sex or sexually arousing conditions, including prostitution, striptease, lap dancing, commercial phone sex, and erotic massage.

A part of the penis and clitoris.

A sticky, white, unpleasant-smelling substance produced at the glans of the penis. It is formed by bacteria and body oils.

Social Stigma:
Severe disapproval for behavior that is not within cultural norms.

The study of human relationships, interactions, beliefs, values, behaviors, and their meanings.

Oral or anal intercourse.

The human growth hormone secreted by the pituitary gland.

The habit of thinking about, comparing, grading, and monitoring one's sexual performance while having sex.

A plastic or metal instrument used to separate the walls of the vagina so the clinician can examine the vagina and cervix.

Speculum Exam:
Physical examination of the walls of the vagina and cervix that is accomplished by using a speculum.

The reproductive cells in men, produced in the seminiferous tubules of the testes.

The time when sperm is first produced by the testes of a boy.

The process of producing sperm. Spermatogenesis occurs in the seminiferous tubules of the testes.

Chemicals used to immobilize sperm and protect against certain sexually transmitted infections.

Organism that causes syphilis.

Squeeze Technique:
A method for postponing early ejaculation.

Statutory Rape:
Sexual intercourse between an adult and anyone who is below the age of consent, whether or not it is voluntary.

STD (Sexually Transmitted Disease):
A sexually transmitted infection that has developed symptoms.

An overly simplified judgment or bias regarding a person or group.

Surgical methods of birth control that are intended to be permanent (blocking of the fallopian tubes for women or the vasa deferentia for men).

Things that excite response or action.


Stranger Rape:
Coerced sexual intercourse by an assailant unknown to the victim.

Being made to feel threatened or challenged in some way.

A sexually transmitted organism that can lead to disorders, or death.


Behavior that is beyond the moral limits of cultural norms.

A firm roll of absorbent cotton or other fiber that is worn inside the vagina to absorb menstrual flow.

The expansion of the inner vagina during sexual excitement.

Two ball-like glands inside the scrotum that produce sperm.

The testes.

An androgen that is produced in the testes of men and in smaller amounts in the ovaries of women.

The time when a girl's breasts begin to develop.

Toxic Shock Syndrome:
A rare but very dangerous overgrowth of bacteria in the vagina. Symptoms include vomiting, high fever, diarrhea, and a sunburn-type rash.

Women and men who dress in the clothing associated with the other gender because they enjoy being treated as if they were of the other gender‹not for sexual pleasure.

Women and men who fully identify themselves as the gender other than their biological one.

Women and men who dress in clothing associated with people of the other gender because it gives them sexual pleasure.

A paraphilia in which sexual arousal becomes dependent on wearing clothing, especially underwear, associated with the other gender.

Tubal Sterilization:
Surgical blocking of the fallopian tubes that is intended to provide permanent birth control.

Typical Use:
Contraceptive effectiveness for women and men whose use is not consistent or always correct.


Description of a penis that has a foreskin.

The two tubes that lead from the kidneys to the bladder.

The tube and opening from which women and men urinate. The urethra empties the bladder and carries urine to the urethral opening. In men, the urethra runs through the penis and also carries ejaculate and pre-ejaculate during sex play.

The reliability of a contraceptive method as it is usually used‹when it is not always used consistently or correctly.

The pear-shaped, muscular reproductive organ from which women menstruate and where normal pregnancy develops; the womb.

UTI (Urinary Tract Infection):
A bacterial infection of the bladder (also called cystitis), the ureters, or the urethra; can be sexually transmitted.


The stretchable passage that connects a woman's outer sex organs (the vulva) with the cervix and uterus.

Vaginal Intercourse:
Sex play in which the penis enters the vagina.

Vaginal Pouch (Female Condom):
A polyurethane sheath with flexible rings at each end that is inserted deep into the vagina like a diaphragm. It is an over-the-counter, reversible barrier method of birth control that may provide protection against many sexually transmitted infections.

Painful intercourse for a woman that occurs when her fear and anxiety about vaginal intercourse cause the muscles around her vagina to go into spasm when her partner tries to insert a penis or dildo.

An inflammation of the vagina that is caused by a change in the normal balance of vaginal bacteria.

Ideas of what is right, worthwhile, or moral.

An enlargement of the spermatic vein, which supplies blood to the testis. It can reduce blood flow and increase the temperature of the testicle, thereby causing infertility.

Vas Deferens:
A long, narrow tube that carries sperm from each epididymis to the seminal vesicles. The plural of vas deferens is vasa deferentia.

Surgical blocking of the vasa deferentia in men that is intended to provide permanent birth control.

One who studies sexually transmitted infections.

The ability of a fetus to survive outside a woman's body.

People who lived during and after the reign of Britain's Queen Victoria (1837-1901) (especially those who shared her fears about human sexuality).

Never having had sexual intercourse.

Voluntary Sterilization:
Surgically implemented contraception that is intended to be permanent and that is freely chosen.

A paraphilia in which sexual arousal becomes dependent on watching people undress or have sex play unaware that they are being watched.

Women or men who become aroused by secretly watching another person undress or engage in sexual behavior.

A woman's external sex organs, including the clitoris, the labia (majora and minora), the opening to the vagina (introitus), and two Bartholin's glands.


Wet Dreams:
Erotic imaging during sleep that causes ejaculation.

Pulling the penis out of the vagina before ejaculation in order to avoid pregnancy.

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