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Glossary of Medical Terms

adenoma: a benign tumor composed of glandular tissue

adrenal glands: two organs located one on the upper end of each kidney

AIS: Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome. There are two forms known as Complete AIS (CAIS) and Partial AIS (PAIS).

amenorrhoea (alternate spelling amenorrhea): abnormal suppression or absence of menstruation

androgens: the general term for any one of a group of hormones which govern the development of the sexual organs and the secondary sexual characteristics of the male

axillary: underarm

carrier: a person that carries, but does not express, a gene for a particular recessive trait

chromosomes: threadlike strands of DNA and associated proteins in the nucleus of cells that carry the genes and functions in the transmission of hereditary information

endocrinologist: a medical doctor who studies the endocrine system, hormones and disorders of the endocrine system

germ cells: male (sperm) and female (egg) cells

gonad: an organ that produces gametes (germ cells), especially a testis or ovary

gonadectomy: surgical removal of the gonads (sex glands). In AIS, this is the removal of the testes.

HRT or Hormone Replacement Therapy: technically this is the replacement of both oestrogen (estrogen) and progestogen by tablet, injection or transdermal patch. Sometimes this term is used even though the only hormone being replaced is oestrogen.

inguinal hernia: A hernia is the protrusion of any organ through the wall of the cavity that holds it. In AIS, an inguinal hernia is the protrusion of the testes through the inguinal canal.

intersex state or intersexualilty: the condition resulting from faulty sex differentiation during the development of the foetus

karyotype: the number, form and size of chromosomes in a cell nucleus

Mullerian ducts: either of two embryonic tubes that become the uterine tubes, uterus and part of the vagina in the female and that form the prostatic utricle in the male

oestrogen (alternate spelling estrogen): any of several natural or synthetic substances formed by the ovary, placenta or testis, that stimulate the female secondary sexual characteristics and exert systemic effects such as the growth and maturation of long bones

orchid: a plant that takes its name from the Greek word "orchis" which means "testes." Orchids were so named because of the resemblance of their root bulbs to testes. What emerges from this seemingly masculine looking root, however, is the beautiful flower known as an orchid.

osteopenia: any condition presenting less bone than normal

osteoporosis: a disease in which the bones become extremely porous, are subject to fracture, and heal slowly

phenotype: a person's physical characteristics as determined by the interaction between his or her genotype-quota of genes-and the environment

testes: the male reproductive gland, the source of spermatozoa and androgens

testosterone: a male sex hormone secreted by the testes

vaginal hypoplasia: excessive smallness of the vagina

Wolffian duct: a duct in the embryo that becomes the vas deferens in the male and forms vestigial structures in the female

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