06.08 Reproductive Terminology

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Included In This Lesson



  1. Reproductive system
  1. Female reproductive system anatomy
  2. Male reproductive system anatomy
  3. Common reproductive terms

Nursing Points


  1. Divisions of female reproductive system
    1. Vagina – vagin/o (or episi/o – used with -tomy)
    2. Cervix – cervic/o
    3. Uterus –
      1. hyster/o (use with -ectomy, -graphy, -gram, -tomy)
      2. metri/o (use with -osis)
      3. uter/o (use with -ine)
    4. Fallopian tubes – salping/o
    5. Ovaries – oophor/o
    6. Vulva – vulv/o
  2. Divisions of the male reproductive system
    1. Penis – phall/o
    2. Testicles –
      1. test/o (use with -osterone)
      2. orch/o (use with -algia, -dynia, -ectomy, -pathy, -pexy, -tomy)
      3. orchid/o (use with -ectomy, -pexy, -plasty, -tomy)
    3. Scrotum – scrot/o
    4. Epididymis – epididym/o
    5. Vas deferens – vas/o
    6. Prostate gland – prostat/o
  3. Common Reproductive Terms
    1. amni/o
    2. chori/o
    3. gynec/o
    4. lact/o
    5. mamm/o
    6. mast/o
    7. men/o
    8. obstetr/o
    9. -arche
    10. -gravida
    11. -parous
    12. -rrhea
    13. -tocia
    14. semin/o
    15. sperm/o
    16. spermat/o


In this lesson we’re going to talk about the medical terms for the reproductive system.
To get started we’re first going to talk about the female reproductive system.
Starting in the outside there is the vulva which is referred to as vulvo.  As we move into the vaginal Canal the vagina is referred to in really two ways. The first one is vagino,  and the second one is episio.  you would see the second term if you were going to use it  in the context of creating a large or vaginal Canal during childbirth. An incision is made into the vagina and it’s called an episiotomy and then allows for a larger baby to pass through the vaginal Canal.  Then there’s the cervix which is also referred to as cervico. You’ll probably notice that cervico also refers to the top seven vertebrae in the neck. This is why context is so important. If you’re talking about someone who’s had a high spine injury and you refer to it as a cervical injury you know that you’re talking about a neck injury. But if you talk about increased cervical dilation, in relation to maybe obstetrics, then you know that we’re talking about the cervix.
Now the uterus has several different terms, and whichever term you’re talking about has a lot to do with the suffix that you use it with. Anytime you are referring to some sort of issue specifically with the uterus, like a uterine Mass, you will use the combining form utero.  But if we’re dealing with potentially the muscle layer of the  uterus, you will use the combining form metrio, such as endometriosis.  The suffixes that are used with a combining  form history row, are ectomy, gravity, and tomy.  The way I want you to remember the difference between these three terms is that if we’re dealing with a procedure or surgical intervention to their uterus you need to use the prefix hystero.
With the Fallopian tubes, you use the combining form of salpingo,  and we see ovaries, oophoro.
Now some women, when they have surgical interventions where they have to have parts of the reproductive system removed, it’s important that the specific medical terms are used. So let’s say  you have a patient with only a removal of the ovaries. That would be an oophorectomy. But let’s say they need the ovaries and the Fallopian tubes removed. Then that would be a salpingo-oopherectomy. Now let’s say your patient is having a complete hysterectomy where they remove the ovaries, the Fallopian tubes, and the uterus. This would be known as a hysterosalpingo-oophorectomy.
Now, with the male reproductive system, we’re going to start by looking at all of the parts and breaking those down. Starting at the penis, the medical term used most commonly is phallo, or a less common term is peno. Then there’s the prostate gland, which we use the term prostato. When we’re talking about the vas deferens or the epididymis, we use the terms vaso or epididymo. Examples of these would be a vasectomy, or epididymitis, which is an inflammation of the epididymis. When we’re talking about the scrotum, the term that’s used usually is scroto, so an example of this would be scrotal edema, which is swelling of the scrotum.
The last thing here is that we want to cover some common reproductive terms. Some of the more common ones that you’ll see are terms that deal with pregnancy, for example obstetro or gravida. Another common term that you may see with pregnancy is amnio, so you’d see this with the term amniocentesis, which is a procedure to draw out amniotic fluid from the pregnant mother’s uterus during pregnancy. Spermo or spermato are the words we use to describe sperm and you’ll see terms like -arche or -rrhea when discussing women’s health. So the terms menarche, is the first period that women have.
The medical terms used for the testicles are a little more complicated. If we are talking about a hormone dealing with the testes, like testosterone, you’ll use the combining form testo and the suffix osterone. But, if there’s a surgery or a procedure to the testes, the combining form will be orchid/o, and you’ll use these suffixes here. If it’s a pathology that you’re talking about, so maybe something lik  testicular pain, you’ll use the combining form orch/o with these suffixes here. So testicular pain would be described as orchalgia. Sometimes orcho and orchido can be used interchangeably for surgical interventions, for example like a one sided testicle removal. That would be described as a unilateral orchidectomy or orchectomy.
So let’s recap. Reproductive terms for both male and female focus on the anatomy of those systems. Other terms are important because they deal with accessory organs or cells, and also the concepts of reproduction and pregnancy.
That’s it for our lesson on reproductive medical terminology. Make sure you check out all of the resources attached to this lesson. Now, go out and be your best selves today, and as always, happy nursing!