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You may hear some of these terms mentioned by your doctor. Most women don’t like to
question their doctor, and leave the session no wiser than when they first made the
appointment. This glossary is aimed to simplify some of the medical terms you may hear.
Anterior Repair - a gynaecologic surgical procedure designed to treat a cystocele (a bulge of
Anticholinergic - a class of drugs which help to control the urgent need to pee by discouraging
the tightening of the bladder muscles before the bladder is full. Some
examples:"Pro-Banthine" (Propantheline Bromide) and "Detrol" (Tolterodine).
Bladder - a hollow muscular organ, which stores urine inside the body.
Bladder Drill - training the bladder to hold urine for longer periods of time.
Bladder Diary - a record of how many times a woman voids (pees, urinates) as well as how
much urine she voids and the amount and type of liquid she drinks. Also called a "Urolog".
Bladder Infections - inflammation of the bladder caused by a heavy growth of bacteria in the
bladder. Symptoms of a bladder infection may include frequency of voiding, pain on voiding
and discolouration of urine but a bladder infection without these symptoms is possible,
Burch Procedure - Surgical procedures used to treat stress incontinence.
Combined Anti-cholinergics & Smooth Muscle Relaxants - These medications relax smooth
muscle and reduce excessive bladder tightening. They reduce the feeling of urgency. Example:
"Ditropan" (Oxybutynin Chloride).
Cystitis – An inflammation of the bladder. Usually caused by a urinary bladder infection.
Cystocele - a bulge of the bladder into the vagina caused by loss of support for the bladder in
Cystoscopy - a process in which a physician inserts a scope into the urethra and up into the
bladder to examine the inside of the bladder.
Detrusor muscle - The smooth muscle in the wall of the bladder that contracts the bladder
Dysuria - burning discomfort experienced as the urine passes through the urethra from the
Estrogen - a hormone that regulates the female menstrual cycle. It is produced in a woman's
body in the ovaries. The amount of estrogen produced by the ovaries decreases during
Frequency - urinating or voiding more than 5 to 7 times per day without an increase in the
Hematuria - blood in the urine which may be microscopic (only seen under a microscope) or
Incontinence (Urinary) - involuntary bladder leakage (loss of urine).
Kegel's Exercises - exercises to strengthen the pelvic support muscles and the muscles that
squeeze to close the urethra and hold urine in the bladder until it is an appropriate time to
Kidneys - the organs, which remove excess water and impurities from the blood and produce
Mixed Incontinence (Urinary) - bladder symptoms which include leaking with physical activity
such as coughing, sneezing, laughing as well as leaking while rushing to the toilet to void.
Needle Suspension - a surgical technique to stop the leakage of urine, which uses long sutures
passed down behind the pubic bone to support the urethra.
Nocturia - getting up too frequently at night to empty the bladder (more than 3 times per
Ovaries - female glands in a woman's pelvic area which produce eggs and the hormones
Overfow Incontinence (Urinary) - continuous bladder leaking caused by an inability to empty
Pad Test - a test in which the woman wears a pad while doing some mild physical activities.
The pad is weighed after testing to determine how much urine leaks from the bladder with
Pessary - a device which is placed in the vagina to support prolapsing (sagging) organs
(bladder, uterus) and/or to stop bladder leakage.
Pelvic Floor (Muscles) - muscles which form a hammock shape in the bottom of the pelvis and
Pelvic Floor Electrical Stimulation - a treatment for urinary incontinence that involves the
stimulation of either the pelvic floor muscles (stress incontinence) or the nerves that supply
the bladder (urgency incontinence) with a mild electrical impulse.
Pelvic Organs - pelvic organs include the bladder, uterus, ovaries, vagina and rectum.
Pelvic Prolapse - a condition in which a pelvic organ has losts its normal support and is falling
Progesterone - a female hormone secreted by the ovaries.
Prolapse – The protrusion, dropping or slipping down of a body part from its normal position
into the vagina. Uterus (uterine prolapse) - rectum (rectocele) – bladder (cystocele)
Prompted Voiding - voiding in response to a cue or prompt to void. Voiding times may vary.
Q-Tip Test - a lubricated cotton-tip swab is inserted into the urethra by your doctor to
determine how well the urethra is supported in the pelvis.
Rectocele - a bulge of the rectum into the vagina caused by loss of support of the rectum.
Scheduled Voiding - voiding (peeing) at fixed time intervals.
Sling Procedures - surgical procedures for stress incontinence which use either artificial
materials or tissue from a woman's own body to form a sling to support the urethra and
Smooth Muscle Relaxants - These medications cause the smooth muscle in the bladder to
relax. They discourage the bladder muscles from tightening before the bladder is full and
reduce the feeling of urgency. Example: "Urispas"(Flavoxate).
Stress Incontinence (Urinary) - leaking of urine from the bladder caused by failure of the
urethra (the "valve" which closes the bladder and holds urine in).
TOT (Trans-obturator tape) - a minimally invasive surgical procedure for treating stress
incontinence. (Not as successful as the TVT up to date)
TVT (Tension Free Vaginal Tape) Procedure - a minimally invasive surgical procedure for
Unstable Bladder - a woman with an unstable bladder is not able to stop the bladder from
emptying spontaneously. It may be caused by irritation to the bladder or because of
abnormalities in the nerve control of the bladder. In 85% of cases no abnormality is found, the
more common cause is irritation to the bladder (for example, irritation from a urinary tract
Ureters - the hollow tubes which carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder.
Urethra - the hollow tube, which carries urine from the bladder out of the body.
Urge Incontinence (Urinary) - loss of urine from the bladder that is associated with a very
strong desire to urinate and an inability to delay long enough to get to the toilet in time.
Urgency - a very strong urge to pee which makes you hurry to get to the toilet.
Urine - "pee" - made up of excess water and waste products removed from the bloodstream by
the kidneys. Urine is carried from the kidneys to the bladder where it is stored until the
bladder is full. The urine is carried out of the body through a hollow tube (the urethra).
Urinalysis - a laboratory test in which the urine is examined for any abnormalities.
Urinary Incontinence - involuntary bladder leakage (loss of urine) at a time and/or place that is
Urinary Tract - consists of the kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra.
Urodynamics - an advanced test of how the bladder works. It is done by a healthcare
professional. Small catheters with delicate sensors are placed in the bladder and vagina.
Urolog - also called a "Bladder Diary". It is a record of how many times a woman voids (pees,
urinates) as well as how much urine she voids and the amount and type of liquid she drinks.
Uterus - the organ which is located in the pelvis at the top of the vagina. It is where a
Void, Voiding - to urinate, to pee, to "pass water".
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