Medical Terms Related to HPV and Sexually Transmitted Diseases and Infections

When you talk to your health care professional, it’s good to know the terminology. This information is not meant to diagnose any medical condition. The medical terms and their meaning are provided for informational purposes only.

Anogenital Warts – Another name for genital/anal warts

Anoscopy –  is a method to view the anus, anal canal, and lower rectum with an anoscope.

Antigen – An antigen is any substance that causes your immune system to produce antibodies against it. An antigen may be a foreign substance from the environment such as chemicals, bacteria, viruses, or pollen. An antigen may also be formed within the body, as with bacterial toxins or tissue cells.

Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) – is the name of a condition in women where the normal balance of bacteria in the vagina is disrupted and replaced by an overgrowth of certain bacteria. It is sometimes accompanied by discharge, odor, pain, itching, or burning. Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is the most common vaginal infection in women of childbearing age. In the United States, BV is common in pregnant women.

Balanitis –  is usually caused by poor hygiene in uncircumcised men. The inflammation can be due to infection, harsh soaps, or failure to properly rinse soap off while bathing. Several other diseases, including reactive arthritis and lichen sclerosis et atrophicus, can lead to balanitis. Men with uncontrolled diabetes are at risk of developing balanitis.

Bartholin’s Abscess –  is the buildup of pus that forms a lump (swelling) in one of the Bartholin’s glands, which are located on each side of the vaginal opening.

Bowenoid Papulosis – a clinically benign form of intraepithelial neoplasia that microscopically resembles Bowen’s disease or carcinoma in situ, occurring in young people of both sexes on the genital or perianal skin usually as multiple well-demarcated pigmented warty papules.

Bowen’s Disease – see Carcinoma in situ

Carcinoma – a malignant tumor of epithelial origin

Carcinoma in situ (CIS) – This is the earliest stage of squamous cell cancer of the penis. In this stage the cancer cells are only found in the top layers of skin. They have not yet grown into the deeper tissues of the penis. Depending on the location of a CIS of the penis, doctors may use other names for the disease. The same condition when found on the shaft of the penis (or other parts of the genitals) is called Bowen’s disease.

CD4 Count – This test is done to monitor the course of HIV infection and response to treatment. It measures the number of CD4 cells (a type of lymphocyte) per cubic mm of blood.

Cervicitis – inflammation of the uterine cervix

Chlamydia – is a common sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by the bacterium, Chlamydia trachomatis, which can damage a woman’s reproductive organs. Even though symptoms of chlamydia are usually mild or absent, serious complications that cause irreversible damage, including infertility, can occur “silently” before a woman ever recognizes a problem. Chlamydia also can cause discharge from the penis of an infected man.

Colposcopy – a procedure in which a lighted magnifying instrument (colposcope) is used to examine the tissues of the vagina and the cervix

Cryoprobe – a blunt chilled instrument used to freeze tissues in cryosurgery

Cryotherapy – the therapeutic use of cold

Dyspareunia – the occurrence of pain during sexual intercourse

Dysplasia – abnormal growth or development (as of organs or cells)

Dysuria – difficult or painful urination

Electrosurgery – use of a heat-generating electrical device to burn or vaporize tissue in order to remove it and minimize and halt bleeding

Genital herpes – is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by the herpes simplex viruses type 1 (HSV-1) or type 2 (HSV-2). Most genital herpes is caused by HSV-2. Most individuals have no or only minimal signs or symptoms from HSV-1 or HSV-2 infection. When signs do occur, they typically appear as one or more blisters on or around the genitals or rectum. The blisters break, leaving tender ulcers (sores) that may take two to four weeks to heal the first time they occur. Typically, another outbreak can appear weeks or months after the first, but it almost always is less severe and shorter than the first outbreak. Although the infection can stay in the body indefinitely, the number of outbreaks tends to decrease over a period of years.

Gonorrhea – is a sexually transmitted disease (STD). Gonorrhea is caused by Neisseria gonorrhoeae, a bacterium that can grow and multiply easily in the warm, moist areas of the reproductive tract, including the cervix (opening to the womb), uterus (womb), and fallopian tubes (egg canals) in women, and in the urethra (urine canal) in women and men. The bacterium can also grow in the mouth, throat, eyes, and anus.

Hematuria – the presence of blood or blood cells in the urine

HIV – Abbreviation for Human Immunodeficiency Virus – It is the virus that can lead to acquired immune deficiency syndrome, or AIDS. There are two types of HIV, HIV-1 and HIV-2. In the United States, unless otherwise noted, the term “HIV” primarily refers to HIV-1. Both types of HIV damage a person’s body by destroying specific blood cells, called CD4+ T cells, which are crucial to helping the body fight diseases. Individuals who are infected with STDs are at least two to five times more likely than uninfected individuals to acquire HIV infection if they are exposed to the virus through sexual contact

HPV – abbreviation for human papillomavirus

HPV High Risk Strains – high-risk strains numbered 16, 18, 31 and 45 cause abnormal cell growth. According to the Centers for Disease Control, HPV is responsible for almost all cervical cancers in women, about 40% of vulvar cancers and 70% of vaginal cancers are linked to HPV. For men, these high-risk HPV strains account for 40% of penile cancer and 85% of anal cancer. The highest risk group for anal cancer are men having sex with men – MSM

HPV Low Risk Strains – HPV types numbered 6 and 11 are considered low risk HPV strains and are the ones responsible for causing genital warts

Incubation Period – the period between the infection of an individual by a pathogen and the manifestation of the disease it causes

Koilocytosis – cell changes caused by HPV which are characterized by non-precancerous cells with little halos around the nuclei

MSM – men having sex with men

Mucopurulent Cervicitis – inflammation of the uterine cervix which has both mucus and pus discharge

Oncogenic Potential – ability to cause cervical cancer

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) – refers to infection of the uterus (womb), fallopian tubes (tubes that carry eggs from the ovaries to the uterus) and other reproductive organs that cause symptoms such as lower abdominal pain. It is a serious complication of some sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), especially chlamydia and gonorrhea. PID can damage the fallopian tubes and tissues in and near the uterus and ovaries. PID can lead to serious consequences including infertility, ectopic pregnancy (a pregnancy in the fallopian tube or elsewhere outside of the womb), abscess formation, and chronic pelvic pain.

Prevalence – the percentage of the population that is affected with a particular disease at a given time

Proctitis – inflammation of the anus and rectum

Productive – an infection involving active viral shedding

Pruritis – itching

Pustular – of or relating to small, often distinctively colored elevations or spots resembling blisters or pimples

Pustules – small, circumscribed elevations of the skin containing pus and having an inflamed base

– any contagious disease acquired during sexual contact (syphilis, gonorrhea, Chlamydia, genital herpes, PID, bacterial vaginosis, HPV, HIV, trichomoniasis)

STI – sexually transmitted infection

Syphilisis a sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by the bacterium Treponema pallidum. It has often been called “the great imitator” because so many of the signs and symptoms are indistinguishable from those of other diseases.

Trichomoniasis – is caused by the single-celled protozoan parasite, Trichomonas vaginalis. The vagina is the most common site of infection in women, and the urethra (urine canal) is the most common site of infection in men. The parasite is sexually transmitted through penis-to-vagina intercourse or vulva-to-vulva (the genital area outside the vagina) contact with an infected partner. Women can acquire the disease from infected men or women, but men usually contract it only from infected women.

Vesicle – a small abnormal elevation of the outer layer of skin enclosing a watery liquid

Vulvovaginitis – coincident inflammation of the vulva and vagina