Medical Library

The AAGL Patient Medical Library has been created to provide patients with access to clear, easy-to-read, medically-balanced information on gynecologic medical conditions and the minimally-invasive procedures and therapies that are available to treat these conditions. Our goal as an organization is to provide you as a patient with enough information so that you can make an informed decision about your healthcare options.

Key Terminology
Laparoscopic Hysterectomy Laparoscopy
Laparoscopic surgery is a minimally invasive, video-guided technique that has revolutionized the field of surgery. Instead of making a large incision through the skin and underlying muscles (laparotomy), a laparoscopic surgeon makes just a few tiny incisions, one for a long, narrow telescope with a camera attached, and two or three others for the instruments needed.
Abdominal Hysterectomy Laparotomy
Laparotomy is open abdominal surgery performed under either general or epidural anesthesia. It involves a 2 to 6 inch incision that is made either vertically, between the navel and the pubic bone, or horizontally, the so-called “bikini” incision just above the pubic bone. It requires a hospital stay and takes four to six weeks for complete healing.
Hysteroscopy Hysteroscopy
Hysteroscopy is a technique for visually examining the cavity of the uterus using a long, thin telescope-like instrument (hysteroscope) that is inserted through the vagina and cervix. A small video camera attached to the end of the telescope gives the doctor a magnified view on a video monitor.

 

Medical Conditions
Abnormal Uterine Bleeding
Women vary greatly in their menstrual cycles: what is normal for one may be abnormal for another. Adolescents in particular may have tremendous variability in their cycles until their hormone levels balance out after several years of menstruation. This article discusses the definitions that doctors use to determine if a woman's bleeding should be classified as abnormal.
Adenomyosis
Adenomyosis is the presence of uterine lining cells growing within the muscle wall of the uterus. It is a benign condition that is often mistaken for fibroids, but is much less common than fibroids. Adenomyosis occurs in about 10% of women.
Cancer
This article discusses the symptoms, characteristics, and treatment options for cervical, uterine, and ovarian cancers.
Chronic Pelvic Pain
Chronic pelvic pain is described as abdominal pain that is not associated with menstrual cramps occurring six months or more. Approximately 15-20% of women experience chronic pelvic pain. Often the cause is undiagnosed or misdiagnosed.
Cramps (Dysmenorrhea)
Dysmenorrhea means painful cramps during your period. Cramps are very common and can occur at any age, but severe cramps tend to occur more often in the late teens and early twenties. This type of abdominal pain usually starts when your period begins and peaks during the first day or two, when flow is heaviest.
Endometriosis
The lining tissue of the uterus is called the endometrium. Each month (except during pregnancy) this lining is shed through the cervix and into the vagina during the menstrual period. However, some of the blood and lining cells may exit the uterus in the wrong direction, flowing up through the fallopian tubes and into the abdominal cavity. For unknown reasons, in some women these uterine lining cells may grow outside the uterus. This condition is called endometriosis. The blood and other biochemicals released by the endometriosis cells begin to irritate the surrounding tissues, causing pelvic pain. Eventually the body may form scar tissue around these injuries, which can lead to more pain.
Fibroids
Fibroids are benign tumor-like growths in the muscle walls of the uterus. There are several different types, classified by where they grow.
Heavy Menstrual Bleeding
Menorrhagia is the medical name for very heavy menstrual bleeding (soaking through a sanitary pad or tampon every hour for more than a few hours) that lasts longer than seven days. It is a common form of abnormal uterine bleeding.
Incontinence
Urinary incontinence (UI), the involuntary leakage of urine from the bladder, affects some 25 million adults, 75-80% of them women.
Ovarian Cysts
An ovarian cyst is a collection of excess fluid in the ovary. The formation of fluid around a developing egg is a normal process in all ovulating women, but sometimes, for reasons doctors do not yet understand, too much fluid is formed. The follicle containing the egg expands, forcing the ovary to expand as well, and this may be experienced as pressure or pain in the pelvic area. On the other hand, some women do not feel the cyst at all, and it may only be discovered during a routine gynecological exam.
Overgrowth of the Uterine Lining (Hyperplasia)
Hyperplasia or overgrowth of the uterine lining is an accumulation of uterine lining cells that can occur when periods are infrequent or too light. The condition is also known as endometrial hyperplasia, because the technical word for the lining of the uterus is endometrium.
Pelvic Congestion Syndrome
Pelvic congestion syndrome is a condition in which the veins in the pelvis become stretched, widened, and congested with blood, similar to varicose veins in the legs. It occurs when the valves that control blood flow to the heart leak, allowing the blood to flow backward and pool in the pelvic veins. The organs affected are the uterus, ovaries and vulva.
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
Pelvic inflammatory disease or PID is an infection of the uterus, fallopian tubes and/or ovaries caused by migration of bacteria usually acquired from sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), particularly gonorrhea and chlamydia. It can lead to infertility,ectopic pregnancy,chronic pelvic pain or other serious consequences.
Pelvic Pain
Pelvic pain is often caused by a number of related medical conditions, including pelvic inflammatory disease or endometriosis. A number of minimally invasive options are now available for reducing or eliminating pelvic pain.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Polycystic ovary syndrome or PCOS is a common reproductive hormonal disorder that prevents ovulation and leads to an increased accumulation of male hormones. The ovaries become filled with small cysts, further blocking ovulation. Because of the increase in male hormones, a woman may experience excess hair growth, oily skin, acne and infertility, in addition to irregular, heavy periods.
Polyps (Uterine Polyps)
Uterine polyps are small, benign protrusions of tissue that grow on the uterine lining ( endometrium). They are overgrowths of the same kind of cells as the lining itself and may appear as finger-like projections or little mushrooms. As they grow, they become fragile and bleed, and as such, they are a common cause of abnormal uterine bleeding.
Prolapse (pelvic organ prolapse)
Pelvic organ prolapse or POP is a condition in which one or more of the organs in your pelvic cavity -- uterus, vagina, bladder and rectum - has fallen below its natural position in the pelvis.
Scar tissue (adhesions)
Adhesions are bands of scar tissue that form during healing from pelvic surgery, infection or endometriosis. Although the formation of scar tissue is a normal part of the healing process, adhesions can be problematic because they cause parts of the body that are not normally connected to stick to each other.
Tubal Pregnancy (Ectopic Pregnancy)
An ectopic pregnancy, also called a tubal pregnancy, occurs when a fertilized egg fails to make its full journey into the uterus and, instead, implants itself in the fallopian tube and begins to grow there. and begins to grow there. The fallopian tube cannot support a pregnancy.
Treatments & Procedures
Cryotherapy
Cryotherapy is a procedure that uses freezing to destroy cells. The doctor uses a special instrument that delivers a dose of extreme cold precisely to the targeted abnormal cells on the cervix or endometrial cells in the uterus (endometrial cryoablation), effectively killing these cells in 95% of cases.
Cystectomy
Cystectomy is the surgical removal of a cyst. Usually a laparoscopic cystectomy can be done on an outpatient basis (you leave the hospital the same day) and normal activities can be resumed in a week or two.
D&C
D&C stands for "dilatation and curettage", a procedure in which your doctor dilates or opens the cervix and scrapes the lining of the uterus. A D&C is often performed in cases of heavy, abnormal uterine bleeding, only for diagnostic and not for therapeutic purposes.
Endometrial Ablation
Women with menorrhagia who do not wish to have children and for whom medical therapy has not provided relief from their heavy bleeding may be candidates for a procedure called endometrial ablation, which stops or reduces heavy bleeding by destroying the lining of the uterus.
Fibroid Treatments
Discusses a number of minimally invasive surgical options that can be used to treat fibroids.
Hysterectomy
Hysterectomy is a surgical procedure that removes the uterus. The term is based on the Greek word for uterus - "hyster" - plus the suffix that means removal - "ectomy." In everyday usage, hysterectomy may refer to removal of not only the uterus, but also the cervix, but does not necessarily mean removal of the ovaries.
Hysteroscopy
Hysteroscopy is a technique for visually examining the cavity of the uterus using a long, thin telescope-like instrument (hysteroscope) that is inserted through the vagina and cervix. A small video camera attached to the end of the telescope gives the doctor a magnified view on a video monitor.
Incontinence Treatments
Overactive bladder andurge incontinence (OAB/UI) are not treated surgically, although there are some medications available to help. For long-term management, non-surgical approaches include lifestyle and dietary changes, bladder training, pelvic floor muscle exercises, and electrical stimulation.
Laparoscopic Surgery
Laparoscopic surgery is a minimally invasive, video-guided technique that has revolutionized the field of surgery. Instead of making a large incision through the skin and underlying muscles (laparotomy), a laparoscopic surgeon makes just a few tiny incisions, one for a long, narrow telescope with a camera attached, and two or three others for the instruments needed.
Laparoscopy
Laparoscopy, the inspection of the pelvic organs through a tiny telescopic camera that projects a magnified view on a video monitor, can be used to diagnose abdominal and pelvic disorders and in some cases to treat them as well.
Laparotomy
Laparotomy is open abdominal surgery performed under either general or epidural anesthesia. It involves a 2 to 6 inch incision that is made either vertically, between the navel and the pubic bone, or horizontally, the so-called “bikini” incision just above the pubic bone. It requires a hospital stay and takes four to six weeks for complete healing.
Laser Surgery
Laser surgery is sometimes used to destroy cervical cancer cells. Its high-energy light beam can target and cut out abnormal cells from the skin of the cervix with high precision. Laser surgery is used as a treatment for pre-invasive cervical cancer only. A laser may also be used as a cutting instrument in laparoscopic surgery.
LEEP (Loop Electrosurgical Excision Precedure)
LEEP or loop electrosurgical excision procedure is an in-office technique for removing abnormal cervical cells that are suspected of being or becomingcancer.
Oophorectomy
Oophorectomy means surgical removal of an ovary. A bilateral oophorectomy means removal of both ovaries.
Operative Hysteroscopy
Operative hysteroscopy allows many procedures that once required hospitalization to be performed in the doctor’s office with minimal discomfort and quick recovery. Patients are usually ready to resume normal activities after a day or two. Some of these procedures replace the need forhysterectomy.
Ovarian Vein Embolization
Ovarian vein embolization is a procedure in which a damaged, varicose vein to the ovary is closed off, thereby alleviating the pain associated with pelvic congestion syndrome.
Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP) Treatment
Discusses treatment options for dealing with pelvic organ prolapse, or the weakening of the pelvic floor muscles resulting in the displacement of the pelvic organs through the vagina.
Polypectomy
Polypectomy is the medical word for removing polyps, small finger-like growths that arise from the uterine lining and protrude into the uterine cavity.
Presacral Neurectomy
Presacral neurectomy is a surgical treatment that may be used for rare cases of severe dysmenorrhea that cannot be resolved by medications or other means. Essentially it involves cutting the nerves that transmit the signal of pain from the uterus to the brain.
Sterilization
Sterilization procedures can provide permanent birth control to women who no longer wish to become pregnant. Several options are available, including minimally invasive techniques. They all have the effect of blocking the Fallopian tubes so that sperm and egg cannot meet and, therefore, fertilization cannot occur.
Transcervical Resection of The Endometrium
Transcervical resection of the endometrium or TCRE, like hysteroscopic endometrial ablation was the treatment of choice for menorrhagia before the advent of newer endometrial ablation techniques. TCRE is operative hysteroscopy using a hysteroscope with a heated wire loop, called a resectoscope, to remove the endometrium.
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Last updated on Apr 23, 2017
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