Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)


A urinary tract infection (also known as a bladder infection or acute cystitis) is the infection of a part or parts of the male or female urinary tract. The urinary tract is made up of the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. A urinary tract infection (or UTI) is not technically a sexually transmitted infection, however, sexual activity is a common cause of UTIs for sexually active adults.1 When the infection affects the lower urinary tract, the condition is known as a simple cystitis (a bladder infection), and when it affects the upper urinary tract, it is known as pyelonephritis (a kidney infection). The most common causal agent of UTIs is the bacterium Escherichia coli, commonly found in the lower intestine of warm-blooded organisms.1

(Image Caption: E. coli, found in the intestines of most mammals, is the bacterium responsible for causing most UTIs)

Females are at a greater risk of developing a UTI than are males, with about half of all females experiencing at least one infection at some point in their lives.1 Urinary tract infections can vary widely in their difficulty of treatment: some cases require only a short course of antibiotics, while others necessitate more invasive methods of treatment, such as dialysis, an artificial replacement for lost kidney function.3


Signs or symptoms of a urinary tract infection may not always be noticeable, but if symptoms are present, they will typically manifest in one of the following ways:

  • A strong, persistent urge to urinate

  • A burning sensation when urinating

  • Frequent, small amounts of urine

  • Urine that appears cloudy

  • Urine that appears red, bright pink, or cola-colored — a sign of blood in the urine

  • Strong-smelling urine

  • Pelvic pain (in women)

  • Rectal pain (in men)2

UTI symptoms may also vary depending on which part of the urinary tract is infected.2 If only the urethra (the tube that leads from the bladder and transports and discharges urine outside the body) is infected, burning with urination should be the only symptom noticed. Infection of the urethra is known as urethritis.

If the infection is in the bladder, the infection is called a cystitis and may include the following symptoms:

  • Pelvic pressure

  • Lower abdominal discomfort

  • Frequent, painful urination

  • Blood or pus in the urine2

Most UTIs involve only the bladder and urethra, known as the lower urinary system. However, serious infections may spread to the upper urinary system (the kidneys and ureters), resulting in an infection known as acute pyelonephritis. Acute pyelonephritis is a very serious medical condition, in which the infection has opportunity to enter the bloodstream (sepsis) and spread to other healthy tissues in the body.2

If such blood infection occurs, one's risk of mortality increases significantly, particularly among children and the elderly. The presentation of acute pyelonephritis is notably distinct from that of the less severe lower tract infections, and typically include the following symptoms:

  • Upper back and side (flank) pain

  • High fever

  • Shaking and chills

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting2

  • Frequent urge to urinate

  • Generalized malaise

  • Abdominal pain

Signs and symptoms of a urinary tract infection may be especially difficult to observe in children or the elderly. In young children, the only symptom of a urinary tract infection may be a fever. Infants may also feed poorly, vomit, sleep excessively, or show signs of jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes). In older children, a loss of bladder control can occur. UTI symptoms in the elderly can be even more vague, sometimes presenting as incontinence, a change in mental status, or general fatigue. Diagnosis of UTIs in the elderly can be further complicated by preexisting or comorbid incontinence or dementia.1

Causes and Risk Factors

Urinary tract infections normally occur when bacteria enter the urinary tract through the urethra and begin to multiply in the bladder, sometimes spreading to other nearby tissues. Although the human urinary system is designed to keep out such microscopic invaders, these defenses are not perfect and sometimes fail. When this occurs, bacteria may seize this opportunity to secure a habitat and grow into a full-blown infection in the urinary tract. Infection may also occur via the blood or lymph. The common intestinal bacterium, E. coli, causes of 80-85% of urinary tract infections. After gaining entry to the bladder, E. coli are able to attach to the bladder wall and form a biofilm that resists the body's immune response. However, other bacteria, such as Staphylococcus saprophyticus (responsible for 5-15% of cases) or viruses and fungi, can also cause UTIs. Risk factors for contracting a UTI include the following circumstances:2

  • Being female. UTIs are more common in females than males, and many females experience more than one infection throughout their life. This is likely due to the fact that biological females have a shorter urethra than do males, which effectively reduces the distance that bacteria must travel to reach a female's bladder.

  • Being sexually active. Sexually active individuals tend to have more UTIs than do those who are not sexually active.

  • Using certain types of birth control. Research has shown that females who use diaphragms as a method of birth control may be at higher risk for contracting a UTI, as well as females who use spermicidal agents.2

  • Completing menopause. After menopause, UTIs may become more common due to a lack of estrogen, which causes changes in the urinary tract that make it more vulnerable to infection.

  • Having urinary tract abnormalities. Infants born with urinary tract abnormalities that do not allow urine to normally exit the body or cause urine to back up in the urethra have an increased risk of contracting a UTI.

  • Having blockages in the urinary tract. Kidney stones or an enlarged prostate can trap urine in the bladder and increase the risk of contracting a UTI.

  • Having a suppressed immune system. Diabetes and other diseases that impair the immune system can increase the risk of contracting a UTI.

  • Using a catheter to urinate. People who are unable to urinate on their own and use a tube (catheter) to urinate have an increased risk of UTIs. This may include people who are hospitalized, people with neurological problems that make it difficult to control their ability to urinate, and people who are paralyzed.

A predisposition for bladder infections may also run in families.

(Image caption: Females using a diaphragm as their primary method of birth control are at greater risk of contracting UTIs.)


A physician may utilize a variety of tests and procedures to diagnose a UTI. These tests may include the following:

  • Urine analysis. Your doctor may ask for a urine sample for lab analysis to look for white blood cells, red blood cells, or bacteria. To avoid potential contamination of the sample, you may be instructed to wipe your genital area with an antiseptic pad and collect the urine midstream.

  • Urine culture. Lab analysis of the urine is sometimes followed by a urine culture: a test that uses your urine sample to grow bacteria in a lab. This test tells your doctor which bacteria are causing your infection and which medications will be most effective for treatment.

  • Creation of images of your urinary tract. If your doctor suspects that an abnormality in your urinary tract causes frequent infections, you may be asked to complete an ultrasound or a computerized tomography (CT) scan to create images of your urinary tract. In certain situations, your doctor may also use a contrast dye to highlight certain structures in your urinary tract. Another test, called an intravenous pyelogram (IVP), uses X-rays with contrast dye to create images. Historically, doctors used this test for urinary tract imaging, but it is being replaced more often by ultrasound or CT scan.

  • Cystoscopy. If you have recurrent UTIs, your doctor may perform a cystoscopy, using a long, thin tube with a lens (cystoscope) to see inside of your urethra and bladder. The cystoscope is inserted into your urethra and passed through to your bladder.

(Image caption: Diagnosis of a UTI typically begins with a urine sample.)

While UTI symptoms are already sometimes vague, a diagnostic physician must not only diagnosis the infection but also differentiate this vague condition from a huge variety of other similarly vague conditions. Individuals with an inflamed vagina (a condition easily confused as a symptom of a UTI) may actually be experiencing a yeast infection. Because yeast is a fungus rather a bacterium, the methods of treating this kind of infection typically differ from those used for UTIs. Inflammation of the prostate may also be considered in the physician's differential diagnosis.

A rare and especially complicated scenario arises when a patient experiences multiple episodes of UTI symptoms, despite his or her urine cultures producing negative results for infection. When it becomes clear that the patient's symptoms are unimproved by antibiotics, and other diagnoses are unrealistic, he or she may be diagnosed with a terminal condition known as interstitial cystitis.5 Interstitial cystitis, also known as bladder-pain syndrome or IC, is characterized by a recurring discomfort or pain in the bladder and the surrounding pelvic region. The symptoms vary from case to case and even in the same individual over time. Individuals with IC may experience mild discomfort, pressure, tenderness, or intense pain in the bladder and pelvic area. Symptoms may include an urgent need to urinate, a frequent need to urinate, or a combination of these symptoms. Pain may change in intensity as the bladder fills with urine or as it empties, and individuals with IC may sometimes experience pain during vaginal intercourse. Interstitial cystitis is incurable and its cause is unknown. Symptoms of interstitial cystitis have been reported to persist even following complete removal of the bladder, resulting in what can be described as a “phantom bladder pain.”5


Most urinary tract infections can be treated successfully without complication. Bladder infection (cystitis) symptoms typically dissipate within a few days after treatment begins. Kidney infections (acute pyelonephritis) are generally longer lasting, sometimes taking one week or longer for symptoms to disappear once treatment has begun.2


When given proper and prompt treatment, lower urinary tract infections rarely lead to other health complications. However, if left untreated, such infections could progress to trigger a number of potentially life-threatening conditions. Typically, an untreated lower urinary tract infection will eventually spread from the bladder to one or both kidneys, possibly causing permanent irreversible damage to proper kidney function and increasing one's risk of complete kidney failure. There is also a small chance that the infection may enter the bloodstream from the kidneys, resulting in a possibly fatal whole-body inflammation known as sepsis. Recurrent infections are a common complication, especially in women who have experienced three or more UTIs.4 It is due to these serious complications that individuals observing early UTI-like symptoms are highly encouraged to seek immediate medical help.1


The standard treatment for urinary tract infections is the prescription of oral antibiotics taken over a typical course of seven to ten days. Drugs commonly prescribed for uncomplicated UTIs include the following:

  • Sulfamethoxazole-trimethoprim (Bactrim, Septra)

  • Amoxicillin (Amoxil, Augmentin)

  • Nitrofurantoin (Furadantin, Macrodantin)

  • Ampicillin (Principen)

  • Ciprofloxacin (Cipro)

  • Levofloxacin (Levaquin)2

A physician may also prescribe a pain medication to numb the bladder and urethra in order to relieve burning during urination. Such urinary-tract analgesics tend to cause urine to turn red or orange in color.2

(Image caption: Oral antibiotics are the most common effective treatment for UTIs)

For patients who experience frequent recurring infections, a physician may make specific treatment recommendations, such as the following

  • A longer course of antibiotic treatment

  • A home urine test to check for infection

  • A single dose of an antibiotic to be taken after sexual intercourse

  • A vaginal estrogen therapy for postmenopausal women2

Patients with frequent UTIs may find relief in certain lifestyle changes or other complementary therapies. The following is a list of nutritional and supplemental changes patients experiencing frequent UTIs might add to their lifestyle. These may not be right for every patient and it is recommended to discuss all alternative therapies with your physician. Following these nutritional tips may help reduce symptoms:6

  • Drink a lot of fluids, such as herbal teas and water. Avoid sweetened fruit juices and other sweetened drinks.

  • Eat cranberries and blueberries, which both contain substances that inhibit the binding of bacteria to bladder tissue. Drinking unsweetened cranberry juice regularly helps lower to the risk of UTIs.

  • Eliminate potential food allergens, including dairy, wheat (gluten), corn, preservatives, and food additives. Your healthcare provider may want to test for food sensitivities. If you are susceptible to UTIs, drinking cranberry juice or taking cranberry pills may help prevent recurrence.

  • Eat antioxidant-rich foods, including fruits (such as blueberries, cherries, and tomatoes) and vegetables (such as squash and bell peppers).

  • Eat more high-fiber foods, including beans, oats, root vegetables (such as potatoes and yams), and psyllium seeds.

  • Avoid refined foods, such as white breads, pastas, and especially sugar.

  • Eat fewer red meats for protein. Eat lean meats (such as poultry or trimmed beef and pork), coldwater fish, tofu (if no allergy to soy is present), and/or beans for protein.

  • Use healthy cooking oils, such as olive oil or coconut oil. Avoid harshly processed oil and fat products such as canola oil or margarine.

  • Reduce or eliminate trans fatty acids, which can found in commercially baked goods (cookies, crackers, cakes, French fries, onion rings, donuts, processed foods, and margarine).

  • Avoid coffee and other stimulants, alcohol, or tobacco.

  • Drink more water. Six to eight glasses daily should help support healthy bodily function.

  • Exercise at least thirty minutes daily, five days per week.

(Image caption: Eating antioxidant-rich foods like berries may help reduce UTI symptoms and frequency.)

Individuals may also choose to address nutritional deficiencies that are potentially exacerbating their symptoms and frequency. Such deficiencies may be remedied with the following nutritional supplements:6

  • A daily multivitamin containing the antioxidant vitamins A, C, E, the B-complex vitamins and trace minerals, such as magnesium, calcium, zinc, and selenium.

  • Vitamin C, 500–1,000 mg once or twice daily, as an antioxidant and for immune support.

  • Omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish oil, one or two capsules or one tablespoonful of oil (taken once or twice daily), to help decrease inflammation and promote general health. Coldwater fish, such as salmon or halibut, are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Fish oil supplements can increase the effects of certain blood-thinning medications.

  • IP-6 (Inositol hexophosphonate), 1–8 grams daily on an empty stomach, for kidney health. There is some concern that IP-6 may interfere with blood clotting. Patients should exercise caution if they have a clotting disorder or take blood-thinning medications.

  • L-glutamine, 500–1,000 mg three times per day, for support of gastrointestinal health and immunity. Glutamine may increase the risk of mania or seizures in susceptible people and may interfere with some anticonvulsant medications.

  • Probiotic supplement (containing Lactobacillus acidophilus), 5–10 billion CFUs (colony forming units) a day, for maintenance of gastrointestinal and immune health. There is strong scientific evidence to support the use of probiotics for urological conditions. Refrigerate probiotic supplements for best results.

  • Grapefruit seed extract (Citrus paradisi), 100 mg capsule or 5–10 drops (in favorite beverage) 3 times daily, for antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral activity. Grapefruit may interact with a wide variety of medications, so individuals considering this supplement should consult their physician before adding it to their diet.6

(Image caption: Increasing your consumption of vitamin C may maintain healthy immune system function and prevent future UTIs.)


Urinary tract infections are caused by germs, typically E. coli entering the urethra and spreading to other parts of the urinary system. Prevention of this occurrence is therefore key to reducing the frequency of UTI contractions.

The first step in preventing future infections is to take your prescribed medication. Typically, a patient will be prescribed an oral antibiotic, sometimes accompanied with a urinary tract pain-relief medicine known as Phenazopyridine hydrochloride (Pyridium).4 Dutiful adherence to your physician's instruction is the quickest route to recovery and prevention. Lifestyle changes in hygiene may also help to prevent some UTIs:4

  • Use sanitary pads instead of tampons. Some doctors believe tampons increase the likelihood of infection. Sanitary pads should be changed with each bathroom visit.

  • Do not douche or use feminine-hygiene sprays or powders. As a general rule, do not use any product containing perfumes in the genital area.

  • Take showers instead of baths. Avoid bath oils.

  • Keep your genital area clean. Clean your genital and anal areas regularly, especially before and after sexual activity.

  • Wipe from the front to the back when using the bathroom, especially for females. Wiping back to front greatly increasing the your risk of spreading E. coli from your anus to your urethra.

  • Urinate before and after sex to clear the urethra of any potential pathogens.

  • Avoid tight-fitting pants. These hot, moist regions of the body are prime locations for the spread bacteria.

The following diet changes have also been shown to prevent UTIs:4

  • Drink plenty of healthy fluids (two or four quarts every day).

  • Drink cranberry juice, but not if you have a personal or genetic history of kidney stones.

  • Do not drink bladder-irritating fluids like alcohol and caffeinated beverages.4

After a patient has completed his or her course of antibiotics, it is crucial that he or she visits a healthcare provider for a followup appointment to ensure that the infection is gone; otherwise, symptoms may persist or return.1



1) "Uncomplicated Urinary Tract Infection in Adults Including Uncomplicated Pyelonephritis."Urology Clinics of North America 35.1 (2009): 1-12. Web

2) "Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)." Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, n.d. Web. 13 Mar. 2014. <http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/urinary-tract-infection/ba....

3) "Dialysis: MedlinePlus."U.S National Library of Medicine. U.S. National Library of Medicine, n.d. Web. 12 Mar. 2014. <http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/dialysis.html>.

4) "Urinary Tract Infection - Adults: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia."U.S National Library of Medicine. U.S. National Library of Medicine, n.d. Web. 13 Mar. 2014. <http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000521.htm>.

5) "Interstitial Cystitis."Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, n.d. Web. 13 Mar. 2014. <http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/interstitial-cystitis/basi....

6) "Urinary Tract Infection in Women."University of Maryland Medical Center. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Mar. 2014. <https://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/condition/urinary-tract-infection-....


Last updated 14 May 2014.

An androgen that plays an important role in the development of the male external genitalia.

A sex-education program that teaches abstinence and does not mention safer-sex practices, homosexuality, etc.

Rape by a person known to the victim. Also known as date rape.

A disease of the immune system characterized by increased susceptibility to opportunistic infections; caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

A fetishistic attraction to amputees or amputation stumps.

A drug used in the treatment of genital herpes.

The period of psychosexual and social maturation following the onset of puberty during which a young person develops from a child into an adult.

An adult that experiences sexual satisfaction from acting like a baby or toddler.

Another term to describe a store that sells pornography.

Another term for placenta, which is delivered in the final stage of childbirth.

Sexual behavior performed after sexual intercourse or orgasm, or at the end of a sexual encounter.

Absence of menstruation. See primary amenorrhea and secondary amenorrhea.

The sampling of amniotic fluid for purposes of prenatal diagnosis.

The posterior (back) portion of the urethral fold, which gives rise to the anus.

Penetration of the anus by the penis, or any sexual behavior involving the anus.

Any of a class of steroids—the most important being testosterone—that promote male sexual development and that have a variety of other functions in both sexes.

In men, the gradual decline of fertility with age; a hypothetical male equivalent of menopause.

Sexually attracted to men.

Sexual contact between the mouth or tongue of one person and the anus of another.

Slang term: “rimjob”

Difficulty experiencing or inability to experience orgasm. In women, also called female orgasmic disorder.

The opening from which feces are released.

A substance believed to improve sexual performance, enhance sexual pleasure, or stimulate desire or love.

A fetishistic interest in having an amputation.

The circular patch of darker skin that surrounds the nipple.

An assisted reproduction technique that involves the placement of semen in the vagina or uterus with the aid of a syringe or small tube.

Artificial insemination using sperm from a man who is not the woman’s partner.

Describes a person who never experiences sexual attraction.

In vitro fertilization and related technologies.

Someone that has contracted an infectious disease but is not experiencing symptoms.

The idea that relationship styles are influenced by the quality of the early parent–child bond.

Providing sexual stimulation to oneself, or being aroused sexually by oneself.

Self-strangulation for purposes of sexual arousal.

A form of male-to- female transexuality characterized by a man’s sexual arousal at the thought of being or becoming a woman.

A form of behavior therapy that attempts to eliminate unwanted desires or behaviors by associating them with some unpleasant experience, such as a noxious smell.

A condition in which the normal microorganisms of the vagina are replaced by other species, causing discomfort and a foul-smelling discharge.

Inflammation of the glans of the penis.

Any contraceptive technique in which a physical barrier, such as a condom or diaphragm, prevents sperm from reaching the ovum.

A facility, usually in the form of a private club, used for casual sex between men.

A version of post-traumatic stress disorder affecting women who are victims of intimate partner violence.

An all-inclusive term for forms of sexual expression that involve inflicting and receiving physical pain, restraint, or humiliation. Often understood as a compressed acronym for bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, and sadism and masochism.

In gay slang, a burly gay man with plenty of body hair; more generally, a member of a gay male subculture that rejects many of the prevailing standards of gay male attractiveness and behavior.

Treatment of paraphilias or other disorders based on conditioning or other theories of behavioral psychology. Also called behavior modification.

Therapy focused on improving styles of communication between partners in relationships.

Noncancerous enlargement of the prostate gland.

Obsolete term for sexual contact between a person and an animal.

Colloquial term for bisexual.

In law, the crime of marrying someone while already married to another spouse.

Prejudice against bisexuals.

The canal formed by the uterus, cervix, and vagina, through which the fetus passes during the birth process.

A facility specializing in childbirth care.

Sexual attraction to persons of both sexes.

An American slang term describing the temporary swelling of the testicles due to fluid congestion accompanied by testicular pain; occurs when a male is sexually aroused for an extended amount of time without climax

An American slang term describing the temporary swelling of the vulva due to fluid congestion accompanied by discomfort; occurs when a female is sexually aroused for an extended amount of time without climax.

The use of physical restraint for purposes of sexual arousal. Rope, cuffs, bondage tape, and other restraints are often used for this purpose.

A method of childbirth instruction that stresses the partner’s role as birth coach and that teaches a natural childbirth method.

Irregular uterine contractions that occur during the third trimester of pregnancy. Also called false labor.

The first stage of breast development at puberty.

In Cameroon, a traumatic procedure to delay breast development in girls.

In women, the two soft, protruding organs on the upper front of the torso; contains the mammary gland, which can secrete milk after pregnancy.

Slang terms: “boobs,” “tits,” “rack”

A house of prostitution.

Two small glands near the root of the penis that may secrete “pre-cum” at the urethral opening during sexual arousal before ejaculation. Also known as Cowper’s glands.

Masculine-acting, often used to describe certain lesbians.

A fertility awareness method of contraception that takes account of variability in the length of a woman’s menstrual cycles.

An escort-service prostitute, especially one who is relatively upscale in terms of clientele and price.

A fungal infection of the vagina. Also called thrush or a yeast infection.

Removal of the gonads. (In males, may include removal of the penis.) Also known as gonadectomy.

Sexual encounters that do not take place within a lasting sexual relationship.

Living under a vow not to marry or (by implication) to engage in sexual relations.


A small rubber or plastic cap that adheres by suction to the cervix, used as a contraceptive.

The lowermost, narrow portion of the uterus that connects with the vagina.

A surgical procedure in which a baby is delivered through an incision in the mother’s abdominal wall and uterus.


A primary sore on the skin or a mucous membrane in a person infected with syphilis. (Pronounced SHANK-er.)


An adult who has had sexual contact with a prepubescent child.

A sexually transmitted disease caused by infection with the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis.


The sampling of tissue from the placenta for purposes of prenatal diagnosis.


An alternative, more-inclusive term for chronic prostatitis. See prostatitis.


Microscopic, hairlike extensions of cells, often capable of coordinated beating motions.


A community support program for released sex offenders.


The surgical removal of the foreskin.


Detention of a person having a mental disorder that creates a threat to himself or others.


A form of behavioral learning in which a novel stimulus is tied to a preexisting reflex.


The transition to infertility at the end of a woman’s reproductive life, lasting for several years and culminating in menopause.


The assessment or treatment of mental or behavioral problems, as practiced by a psychologist.


A loose fold of skin that covers the clitoris.


Removal of the entire external portion of the clitoris (glans, shaft, and hood).


The erectile organ in females, whose external portion is located at the junction of the labia minora, just in front of the vestibule; it is the most sensitive erogenous zone and often the primary anatomical source of sexual pleasure in women.


The common exit of the gastrointestinal and urogenital systems; in humans it is present only in embryonic life.


Related to the aspects of the mind that process knowledge or information.


The study of the information-processing systems of the mind.


Therapy based on changing a person’s beliefs and thought processes.


A live-in sexual relationship between two persons who are not married to each other.


The apparent negative outcomes of cohabitation before marriage, such as less satisfying marriages and divorce.


A variation of the man-above position for coitus that increases clitoral stimulation.


Penetration of the vagina by the penis.


The milk produced during the first few days after birth; it is relatively low in fat but rich in immunoglobulins.


The examination of the cervix with the aid of an operating microscope.


Reveal a previously concealed identity, such as being gay.


The cognitive component of love: the decision to maintain a relationship.


A form of marriage in which the husband and wife are expected to be emotionally intimate and to engage in social activities together.

Sexual behavior perceived subjectively as involuntary and diagnosed as a symptom of a compulsive disorder. Also called obsessive–compulsive sexual disorder.


The modification of behavior by learning through association and/or reinforcement.


A congenital defect of hormonal metabolism in the adrenal gland, causing the gland to secrete excessive levels of androgens.


An oral contraceptive regimen in which all pills (except any dummy pills) contain the same drug dosage.


A device inserted in the body that slowly releases a hormonal contraceptive.


In childbirth, a periodic tightening of the uterine muscles, felt as a cramp.


A group of subjects included in a study for comparison purposes.


The revival of sexual arousal caused by the presence of a novel partner.


The rim of the glans of the penis.


Either of two elongated erectile structures within the clitoris or penis that also extend backward into the pelvic floor.


A secretory structure in the ovary derived from an ovarian follicle after ovulation.


A single midline erectile structure. In both sexes it fills the glans; in males it extends backward along the underside of the penis, surrounding the urethra.


A paraphilia or certain set of paraphilias seen as a disorder of normal courtship behavior.


Pregnancy-like symptoms in the male partner of a pregnant women. Also called sympathetic pregnancy.


A form of marriage that requires a stronger vow of commitment than a regular marriage and that makes divorce harder to obtain.


A sheetlike muscle that wraps around the spermatic cord and the testicle.


Wearing the clothing of the other sex, for any of a variety of reasons. One who cross-dresses is sometimes referred to as being “in drag.”


The appearance of the fetal scalp at the vaginal opening.


Internal extensions of the corpora cavernosa of the clitoris or penis.


    A colloquial term for infatuation.


Failure of one or both testicles to descend into the scrotum by 3 months of postnatal age.


The study of cultural variations across the human race.


The study of the interactions between culture and mental processes or behaviors.


Sexual contact between the tongue or mouth of one person and the vulva of another.

Slang terms: “eating-out,” “third base,” “oral,” “head”


Stalking via the Internet.


The cycle in which some abused children grow up to repeat similar forms of abuse on others. Also called victim–perpetrator cycle.


Rape between dating or socially acquainted couples; it is particularly common of college campuses. Also called acquaintance rape.

A nonmarital sexual relationship between two persons who do not live together but who see each other on a more-or-less regular basis.


Removal of laws that criminalize activities such as prostitution.


Kissing, with entry of the tongue into the partner’s mouth.

Slang term: “French kissing,” “making out”

Difficulty achieving or inability to achieve orgasm and/or ejaculation. Also called male orgasmic disorder.


Labor that occurs more than 3 weeks after a woman’s due date.


Puberty that begins later than normal.


Persistent false belief that one’s partner is involved with another person.


Stalking motivated by the delusional belief that the victim is in love with, or could be persuaded to fall in love with, the stalker.


An injectable form of medroxyprogesterone acetate, used as a contraceptive in women or to decrease the sex drive in male sex offenders.


A form of Depo-Provera designed for subcutaneous (under the skin) injection.


Synthetic steroids designed to be undetectable in drug testing.


An Indian temple prostitute.

An Indian temple prostitute.

A barrier placed over the cervix as a contraceptive.



In childbirth, the expansion of the cervical canal.

Also called dilatation.

A procedure involving the opening of the cervix and the scraping out of the contents of the uterus with a curette (spoonlike instrument). D&E may be done as an abortion procedure or for other purposes.

A sex toy, often shaped like a penis, used to penetrate the vagina or anus.

Using graphic word imagery and/or explicit language to increase pleasure during sexual activity. It is a common part of foreplay, and can include vivid erotic descriptions or sexual commands.

The situation in which one partner in a relationship has much more interest in sex than the other.

Medical conditions producing abnormal sexual differentiation or intersexuality.

The distancing of oneself from the emotions evoked by some traumatic experience or memory.

The use of humiliation or subservience for purposes of sexual arousal.

A woman who acts the role of the dominating partner in a BDSM setting.

To rinse the vagina out with a fluid.

A collection of birth defects caused by the presence of an extra copy of chromosome 21.

The wearing of exaggeratedly feminine clothing by a man, often for entertainment purposes.

The pain that sometimes accompanies menstruation.

See primary dysmenorrhea and secondary dysmenorrhea

Pain during coitus.

A complication of pregnancy in which an embryo implants somewhere other than the uterus, such as one of the fallopian tubes.

Also known as tubal pregnancy.

Thinning of the cervix in preparation for childbirth.

Release of semen from the penis, usually as a result of orgasm.

Slang terms: “cumming,” “busting,” “finishing”

Either of the two bilateral ducts formed by the junction of the vas deferens and the duct of the seminal vesicle. The ejaculatory ducts empty into the urethra within the prostate.

An abortion performed in circumstances when the woman’s health is not at risk.

A form of emergency contraception that is effective for 5 days after sex.

Use of high-dose contraceptives to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex.

The loading of the components of semen into the posterior (back) urethra immediately before ejaculation.

Fear that one’s partner is becoming emotionally committed to another person.

The ability to share or understand other people’s feelings.

Cancer of the endometrium of the uterus.

The growth of endometrial tissue at abnormal locations such as the oviducts.

The internal lining of the uterus.

The sinking of a fetus’s head into a lower position in the pelvis in preparation for birth.

Also called lightening.

A structure, attached to each testicle, where sperm mature and are stored before entering the vas deferens.

Inflammation of the epididymis.

Anesthesia administered just outside the membrane that surrounds the spinal cord.

A cut extending the opening of the vagina backward into the perineum, performed by an obstetrician to facilitate childbirth or reduce the risk of a perineal tear.

A persistent inability to achieve or maintain an erection sufficient to accomplish a desired sexual behavior such as coitus to orgasm.

Physiological phenomenon in which the penis becomes firmer, larger, and filled with blood, typically in response to sexual excitement. 

Slang terms: “boner,” “pitching a tent,” getting hard”

Sexually themed works, such as books or sculpture, deemed to have literary or artistic merit.

The delusional belief that a sexually desired but unattainable person is actually in love with oneself.

Euphemism for a prostitute who advertises by print, word of mouth, or the Internet.

A service that provides prostitutes, generally contacted by telephone.

A method of tubal sterilization that uses metal coils to block the oviducts.

The principal estrogen, secreted by ovarian follicles.

Any of a class of steroids—the most important being estradiol—that promote the development of female secondary sexual characteristics at puberty and that have many other functions in both sexes.

The study of a cultural group, often by means of extended individual fieldwork.

A man who has been castrated.

The study of the influence of evolution on mental processes or behavior.

The beginning phase of the sexual response cycle.

A paraphilia involving exposure of the genitalia to strangers, sometimes with masturbation.

Also called “flashing.”

A form of psychotherapy for victims of rape or abuse in which they are encouraged to recall the traumatic event in a safe environment.

A regimen of contraceptive pills that allows for fewer or no menstrual periods.

The sexual structures on the outside of the body. The penis, urethra, and scrotum comprise the male external genitalia. Female external genitalia consist of the labia minora, labia majora, and clitoris.

A sexual relationship in which at least one of the partners is already married or partnered with someone else.

A person who has had sexual contact with children outside his immediate family.

An imagined experience, sexual or otherwise.

Sexual contact between the mouth of one person and the penis of another.

Slang terms: “head,” “sucked-off,” “oral”

Any of several forms of ritual cutting or removal of parts of the female genitalia.

A plastic pouch inserted into the vagina as a contraceptive and/or to prevent disease transmission.

Insufficient physiological arousal in women, resulting in unpleasurable or painful sex.

A type of cervical cap that has a raised brim.

The movement to secure equality for women; the study of social and psychological issues from women’s perspectives.

Prejudice against femininity in males.

Feminine-acting, often used to describe certain lesbians or bisexual women.

Contraceptive techniques that rely on avoiding coitus during the woman’s fertile window. Also called rhythm methods or periodic abstinence methods.

A collection of physical and behavioral symptoms in a child who was exposed to high levels of alcohol as a fetus.

Sexual arousal by inanimate objects, materials, or parts of the body.

A noncancerous tumor arising from muscle cells of the uterus.

The fringe at the end of the oviduct, composed of finger-like extensions.

State in which the penis is limp or soft.

A fluid-filled sac that contains an egg (ovum), with its supporting cells, within the ovary.

One of the two major gonadotropins secreted by the pituitary gland; it promotes maturation of ova (or sperm in males).

An alternative term for preovulatory phase.

Any kind of sexual touching of the partner’s body.

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