Sex from A to Z: Sex Dictionary

Sex Glossary: Sexuality Terms Defined

By Dr. Sari Locker

Portions of this glossary are from excerpted from Dr. Sari Locker's book, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Amazing Sex. This writing may not be reproduced.

abortion - Medical or surgical termination of a pregnancy before the fetus is sufficiently developed to survive outside the uterus.

abstinence - Refraining from sexual intercourse for a period of time.

acquaintance rape - Sexual assault, or forced sex, that is committed by someone who was known to the victim prior to the assault.

acyclovir - A drug used to treat herpes infections.

adoption - A legal process in which a child becomes part of a family to which he or she was not born.

adult store - A euphemism for a store that sells sexually explicit books, magazines, videos, or sex toys.

adultery - Sexual intercourse of a married person with someone other than his or her spouse. Some people may define adultery as any type of intimacy with someone other than the spouse, without the spouse's consent.

afterplay - The affectionate time that occurs after intercourse or orgasm, usually consisting of caressing, cuddling, talking, laughing, eating, cleaning up, getting ready to make love again, or falling asleep.

AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) - A life-threatening disease caused by the HIV virus that lowers a body's T-cell count and thus lowers immunity. Transmitted when infected blood, semen, vaginal secretions, or breast milk comes in contact with a person's bloodstream. AIDS is characterized by the appearance of certain diseases, such as a respiratory disorder called pneumocystitis carnii pneumonia and a type of skin cancer called Karposi's sarcoma.

anal sex - Sexual contact with the anus. Usually this term specifically refers to a penis penetrating an anus in anal intercourse. But some people may consider it any sexual contact with the anus, such as digital or oral contact.

annilingus - Oral stimulation of the anus. Sometimes referred to as "rimming."

aphrodisiac - A substance that is alleged to stimulate or increase sexual desire, although in actuality it may not have a physical effect on the person.

areola - Pigmented area that surrounds the nipple on the breasts. Depending on the person's skin coloring, it could be pink, brown, black, or any skin tone that is a darker shade than the color of the person's breast.

arousal - Stimulation of sexual interest. Also, the second stage of the sexual response cycle.

barrier method - The diaphragm, cervical cap, condom, and spermicidal products are all barrier forms of birth control, designed to block sperm from entering the uterus.

Bartholin's glands - Small glands in a woman located on either side of the labia minora,
which secrete small amounts of fluid that may add to a woman's lubrication when she is sexually aroused.

BDSM - A term that merges three expressions: bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, and sadism and masochism. This term is most often used today in the S/M community, especially in the many chat rooms and sites on the Internet.

ben wa balls - Small solid metal balls that are inserted into the vagina to supposedly provide sexual stimulation by rubbing together.

birth control - Regulation or prevention of the birth of a child by using a device or technique to prevent pregnancy. Usually thought of as methods such as the birth control pills, IUD, diaphragm, Norplant, condoms, and so on.

birth control pills - Commonly referred to as "the pill," hormones (estrogen and progestin) that are prescribed by a doctor and taken daily to prevent a woman from ovulating and, thus, from becoming pregnant.

bisexual - Someone who has erotic attractions to and sex with people of both the opposite and the same sex.

bloodborne - Diseases that require contact between infected blood or body fluid (like semen and vaginal secretions) and blood for transmission of the disease. One cannot acquire a bloodborne disease through casual contact with another person.

blow job - Slang for oral sex on a man, even though blowing is not part of oral sex.

body image - A person's self-image, or mental picture, of his or her own body, and the attitudes and feelings he or she has toward his or her appearance. Body image determines how attractive a person thinks he or she is.

bondage - Physical restraint. Participants may use rope, chain, scarves, ties, pantyhose, leather straps, or other restraining devices. Bondage should always be completely consensual.

bottom - A term used in the S/M community to refer to someone who derives erotic pleasure from temporarily and consensually relinquishing control to another person.

breast self-exam - A procedure used for the detection of possibly cancerous lumps in the breasts, performed by palpitation of the breast area once a month.

breasts - The secondary sex organs that are located on the chest. In women, they are responsible for lactation. Male and female breasts may become sexually stimulated by touch.

butch - Masculine or macho behavior or dress; both men and women can be butch.
butt plug - A dildo that is specially designed to be inserted in the anus for anal and rectal pleasure.

candidia - A fungal or yeast infection of the vagina, mouth, foreskin, or rectum. In women, this would appear as a thick, white, curdy discharge that causes irritation. Men are often asymptomatic.

cervical cap - Thimble-shaped, rubber method of barrier contraception prescribed by a doctor. It is inserted into the vagina prior to sex and fits snugly over the cervix to prevent sperm from entering.

cervix - The neck of the uterus, which is the passageway from the uterus to the vagina.

cesarean section - Delivery of a fetus by surgical incision through the abdomen and uterine wall. Derived either from the Latin, caedere meaning "to cut," or from Julius Caesar, who was supposedly taken from his dead mother's womb when he was born.

chlamydia - An infectious disease that is transmitted sexually. May cause minor pain and discharge, or may be asymptomatic. If left untreated, it may cause infertility.

circumcision - The surgical removal of the foreskin of the penis.

clitoris - A bundle of nerve endings located on the vulva that has the sole function of giving sexual pleasure and orgasm to the woman.

cock ring - A rubber, leather, or metal band worn at the base of the penis to encourage blood flow to stay in the penis, or simply for adornment. Often used by people who practice S/M.

coming out - A term used to refer to gays, lesbians, or bisexuals who are becoming open about, not concealing, their sexual identity. Also referred to as "coming out of the closet."

compatibility - The condition of being well matched with a partner for a sexual or nonsexual relationship.

condom - A disposable sheath of thin latex worn by a man to prevent sperm from entering the vagina during sexual intercourse. Used as birth control or as protection against STDs and the transmission of HIV.

Cowper's glands - Two pea-sized glands located below the prostate gland in men that release an alkaline fluid that makes up part of the seminal fluid. Also known as the bulbourethral glands.

crossdressers - People who wear clothes of the opposite gender to fulfill their emotional, cultural, or sexual needs, or even just for fun, such as on Halloween. Most crossdressers are heterosexual, and they can be men or women.

crush - An intense feeling of affection for someone the person hardly knows. Characterized by lustful feelings, worries that feelings will not be reciprocated, and sometimes feelings of jealousy. Also known as infatuation.

cunnilingus - Oral stimulation of a woman's vulva, clitoris, and/or vagina. From Latin, cunnus meaning "vulva" and lingere meaning "lick." Some people refer to it in slang, as "going down on a woman" or "eating her out."

date rape - Sexual assault, or forced sex, perpetrated by someone whom the victim was on a date with at the time.

deep-throat - A form of oral sex in which the penis is voluntarily penetrated deeply into the recipient's throat.

Depo-Provera - Progestin hormone shot that acts as birth control when administered by a doctor once every three months.

desire - Refers to a strong interest in sex. Also the first stage of the sexual response cycle.
diaphragm - A rubber device that covers the cervix and blocks sperm from entering the uterus. A doctor must prescribe and fit a woman for a diaphragm.

dildo - An artificial substitute for an erect penis, made of silicone, rubber, or latex, designed for vaginal or anal insertion for sexual pleasure.

douche - A rinse that can be used in the vagina that is supposed to make women feel "cleaner" by washing away vaginal secretions. However, it is not advised that women use these.

drag queens - Gay men who dress as men in their day-to-day life, but who dress as women (often Barbra Streisand, Liza Minnelli, or Marilyn Monroe) when they perform at clubs.

dyke - A term for lesbians that was historically used in a derogatory fashion but has been reclaimed by the lesbian community.

dyspareunia - A medical term that refers to painful intercourse.

egg - The female reproductive cell, also known as the ovum, which when united with a sperm can become fertile and create life.

ejaculation - The expulsion of semen from the penis. Semen most often spurts out in conjunction with orgasmic contractions.

ejaculatory ducts - Ducts in the penile shaft that carry sperm and seminal fluid from the prostate through the urethra.

ejaculatory inevitability - The point at which a man can no longer control the fact that he is about to ejaculate. Also known as "the point of no return."

epididymis - Coiled tubelike structures located on the side of the testicles that carry newly developed sperm.

episiotomy - A surgical incision through a woman's perineum, performed to enlarge the vaginal opening for delivery of a baby.

erection - Natural enlargement of the penis when blood flowing to the area causes it to become engorged.

erogenous zones - Areas of the body that respond to sexual stimulation.

erotica - Any sexually explicit writing, or visual images such as photographs, drawings, and films that arouse sexual interest or are used to enhance a sexual experience. The term usually refers to material that also contains loving interaction.

estrogen - Hormone that regulates secondary sexual characteristics in women and regulate the monthly cycle.

fallopian tubes - Two delicate tubes in the female reproductive system that lead to the uterus. The usual site of fertilization.

FAMs - Fertility awareness methods, also called the rhythm method, natural family planning, periodic abstinence, the body awareness method, or the Billings method. Method of predicting a woman's fertile period based on changes in cervical mucus discharge and body temperature.

fellatio - Oral sexual stimulation of the penis. Derived from the Latin word fellare, meaning "suck." In slang, it is also called "going down on a man," "sucking him off," or a "blow job."

female condom - A disposable tube made of polyurethane and plastic rings (which anchor it in the vagina over the cervix) that extends outside of the body. The female condom provides birth control and coverage against STDs. Also known as the condom for women or by the brand name Reality.

fetish - Attribution of sexual significance to a nonsexual material object, such as a shoe or garter belt, or a part of the body such as a foot.

fimbriae - Tiny fingerlike projections at the ends of the fallopian tubes that catch the egg and lead it into the tube.

fisting - The skillful insertion of an entire hand into the vagina or rectum.

foreplay - Sexual stimulation that occurs prior to intercourse. Includes kissing, caressing, and sometimes oral sex.

foreskin - A fold of thin skin that overhangs the glans of the penis in uncircumcised men.

french kiss - A kiss in which both partners' mouths are open and their tongues are in contact with each other's.

frenulum - An indentation or tiny fold of skin located in the ridge under the glans of the penis.

gag reflex - The biological reflex that causes one to gag when the back of one's throat is stimulated.

gay - Popular term referring to being homosexual; most often used to refer to male homosexuals, with female homosexuals being referred to as lesbians.

gender identity - How a person thinks of himself or herself based on his or her gender (masculine or feminine).

genital warts - Skin growths that can be sexually transmitted and found on the penis, anus, vulva, vagina, or cervix. Caused by the human papaloma virus (HPV).

glans - The head of the penis.

gonorrhea - A bacterial infection of the vagina, penis, rectum, or throat. Symptoms may include pain in the infected area and greenish or yellowish discharge.

group sex - Sexual interaction involving three or more people at the same time.

g-spot ) - An area located on the front of the inner upper wall of the vagina that may (or may not) be highly erogenous. Named for Ernst Grafenburg, a German obstetrician and gynecologist who first described this spot.

hand job - Giving manual stimulation to a man. It can also be called "masturbating him" or "jerking him off."

heavy petting - Sexual stimulation that does not include sexual intercourse. Most often refers to rubbing against each other in a sexual way or engaging in mutual masturbation.

hepatitis B - A virus that can be transmitted from infected blood, semen, or vaginal secretions that find their way into one's bloodstream through injection or sexual contact.

herpes - A viral infection that produces cold sore-like blisters on the mouth, vulva, penis, and/or rectum. Remains in one's body for a lifetime and can be reactivated by stress, hormones, allergies, or fatigue.

hickey - A bruise that occurs when someone uses suction from his or her mouth to suck in as he or she kisses sensitive skin.

HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) - The virus that causes AIDS.

homophobia - An irrational fear or hatred of homosexuals.

homosexual - A term for men or women who have a preferential sexual attraction to people of the same sex.

hormones - Substances in the body that control and regulate functions and behavior. Not all of the hormones are directly involved in sexual function, but many are.

hot flash - The sensation of sudden warmth in a woman's body, related to the change in hormone production that occurs during menopause.

HPV (human papaloma virus) - The virus that causes genital warts.

hymen - A membrane at the entrance to a woman's vagina. This membrane usually breaks or tears during first intercourse.

hysterectomy - The surgical removal of the uterus and sometimes the ovaries.

impotence - A man's inability to achieve or maintain an erection of sufficient firmness for penetration during intercourse.

infatuation - May be the first stage of falling in love, or an intense feeling of affection for someone one hardly knows. Characterized by lustful feelings, worries that feelings will not be reciprocated, and sometimes feelings of jealousy. Also know as a crush.

infertility - The inability to become pregnant. This term applies after a couple has been trying to conceive for more than one year.

inhibited sexual desire - When a person feels no desire or a diminished desire to have sex.

IUD (intrauterine device) - A small plastic device, usually combined with copper or hormones, that is inserted into the uterus by a doctor to prevent pregnancy.

Kegel exercises - Repeated contractions and release of the pubococcygeal (PC) muscles to strengthen them and increase sexual sensitivity. Developed by Dr. Arnold Kegel.

labia majora and labia minora - External female sex organs that extend from the clitoris to the perineum and enclose the vaginal and urethral opening. Sometimes referred to as vaginal "lips."

lesbian - A term that is commonly used to describe a homosexual woman.

love - A strong kinship, bond, devotion, admiration, or attraction.

lust - An intense desire for sexual contact with someone.

mammogram - A soft-tissue x-ray that is designed to show the presence of a tumor in the breast.

Marquis de Sade - French aristocrat of the late 1700s who was imprisoned for sexually dominating women and who wrote several novels about his sadistic needs and behaviors. The term sadist is derived from his name.

massage - A soothing technique of rubbing the body (often the back) that incorporates gliding and kneading strokes that improve circulation and relax muscles.

mastectomy - The surgical removal of all or part of the breast as a treatment for breast cancer.

master/mistress - A person who derives erotic pleasure from assuming temporary, consensual control over another person. Also know as "top" or "dominant."

masturbation - Self-stimulation of one's own genitals for sexual pleasure, most often to reach orgasm. Masturbation can also include touching of other body parts, such as breasts, chest, thighs, lips, buttocks, and anus.

Me-nage a-trois - Sexual contact among three people at the same time. Also known as a threesome. Translated in French as "household of three."

menopause - The cessation of menstruation in women and the natural decline in female sex hormones, which usually occurs for most women during a two-year period between ages 45 and 60.

menstrual cycle - The hormonally controlled monthly cycle of ovulation, egg development, and sloughing off of the uterine lining that causes blood and tissue to be expelled from the uterus through the vagina.

menstruation - Discharge of blood and tissue from the lining of the uterus through the vagina for about three to seven days each month. Occurs during the years from puberty to menopause, when a women is not pregnant. Also called a "period."

missionary position - The sexual position in which the man is on top of the woman.

monogamy - A sexually exclusive relationship, usually as part of a committed relationship; usually expected to be part of marriage.

mons veneris - The soft area above a woman's vulva that is covered with pubic hair. In Latin, the word mons means "mound" and veneris refers to Venus, the Roman goddess of love, meaning, "mound of love." Also known as mons pubis.

Morning-after pill - An emergency method to prevent conception that uses high doses of synthetic hormones taken for one to five days within three days after unprotected intercourse.

mucous membranes - The soft, wet linings of one's eyes, nose, mouth, anus, and vagina. The mucous membranes are not nearly as effective a barrier against infectious organisms as skin.

mutual masturbation - Sexual contact in which people manually stimulate each other's genitals at the same time.

naked - Without clothes, often implying that one was stripped of one's clothes.

nipple - The tips of the breasts in men and women that contain erectile tissue and may provide sexual pleasure when stimulated. In women, they are connected to milk ducts, which are used to nurse a child during lactation.

nude - Without clothes, usually implying that one is without clothes voluntarily.

NuvaRing - Also called "the ring," a small, flexible ring containing hormones. It is inserted deep into the vagina to protect against pregnancy for one month at a time.

oral sex - Sexual stimulation of the male or female genitals using the mouth.

orgasm - Sexual climax, marked by blood flow to the genitals, involuntary rhythmic contraction of the pelvic muscles and erotic pleasure. In slang, this is referred to as "coming."

Ortho-Evra - Also called "the patch," a plastic patch containing hormones. It sticks to a woman's skin to prevent pregnancy one month at a time.

ovaries - The two almond-size glands in the female reproductive system that produce eggs during the monthly cycle and hormones that are involved in sexual responses and the development of secondary sex characteristics.

ovulation - Release of the egg from the ovary.

ovum - The female reproductive cell, also known as the egg, which when united with a sperm can become fertile and create life.

pap smear - A gynecological examination of the cells from the cervix that is used to detect cancerous conditions.

pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) - Inflammation of the uterus and fallopian tubes in the female reproductive system, often caused by an untreated case of chlamydia or sometimes gonorrhea. May be treated, but often causes infertility.

penis - The male reproductive and sex organ, made up of the shaft, which is the body of the penis, and the head, which is also called the glans. When the spongy tissue inside the penis fills with blood, the penis becomes erect and the man can have intercourse. Semen is ejaculated from the penis. In addition to being used for sexual and reproductive functions, a man urinates through his penis.

perineum - The area of skin between the genitals and the anus in both men and women.
phallic - Relating to or resembling a penis.

plateau - The third stage of the sexual response cycle in which the excitement maintains a high level prior to climaxing to the orgasm stage.

pornography - Written, spoken, or visual material that stimulates sexual feelings. The term pornography comes from the Greek word porneia, which means "the writings of and about prostitutes." Also known as porn or porno.

pre-ejaculatory fluid - Fluid that is secreted by the man's Cowper's glands and is discharged from his penis during arousal but prior to ejaculation. This fluid may contain sperm. Also called "pre-cum."

premature ejaculation - Ejaculation before the man wants it to occur. It could mean that he ejaculates only seconds after his penis goes into the vagina, or he could even ejaculate prior to penetration.

premenstrual syndrome (PMS) - Disturbances that may occur in women three to seven days prior to their period. Marked most often by moodiness, irritability, bloating, headaches, and depression. Can be treated or managed to reduce symptoms.

progesterone - An important female hormone, one function of which is to build up the uterine lining to prepare for pregnancy.

progestin - A synthetic progesterone-type hormone.

prostate exam - The exam that a doctor performs on a man by inserting his gloved, lubricated finger into the man's rectum to feel his prostate and detect abnormalities.

prostate gland - The walnut-size gland that is located below the bladder in a man. It produces the majority of the fluid that combines with sperm and other secretions to make up semen.

prostatectomy - The surgical removal of excess prostate tissue, or, in a radical prostatectomy, the removal of the prostate gland.

pubic lice - Parasitic insects that infest the pubic hair of men or women. May be transmitted sexually or through contact with infested hair, bedding, towels, or clothing. Also called "crabs."

pubococcygeal (PC) muscles - Pelvic muscles that extend from the pubic bone in the front, around both sides of the sex organs, and back to the tailbone. Control over the PC muscles can enhance sexual response in women and men.

queer - A reclaimed, derogatory term for homosexuals that is used by (particularly younger) gays, lesbians, and bisexuals to describe themselves; some homosexuals are not comfortable with this term, and if it is not used by someone who is gay, it is usually derogatory.

quickie - A brief sexual encounter that is often accompanied by spontaneity and some degree of risk.

rape - A forced sexual encounter.

rear entry - The sexual position in which the man enters the woman's vagina from behind. Also called "doggy-style."

resolution - The final stage of the sexual response cycle, which occurs after orgasm. During this stage, the body returns to the stage that it was in prior to excitement.

rimming - Oral-anal sexual contact. Also know as annilingus.

role-playing - Acting out different roles, often for variety in sexual play.

RU486 - The so-called "abortion pill," also known as Mifepristone, a nonsurgical method of abortion. It is a series of pills that contain antiprogesterones that expel the fetus, along with the uterine lining and heavy bleeding, out through the vagina.

Sacher-Masoch, Leopold von - Austrian novelist of the 1800s who wrote about his behaviors and needs to be sexually submissive in his books, most notably Venus in Furs. Masochism is derived from his name.

sadomasochism (S/M or S&M) - A broad term applied to a number of activities typically involving exchange of power or pain between consenting partners, often during role-playing and often including toys, tools, and methods for restraining and exerting physical tension and/or erotic pain.

safe word - A word or words used as a signal between partners to halt a sexual activity during an S/M scene.

scrotum - The pouch of skin that hangs below the penis and contains the male testes and epididymis.

secondary sexual characteristics - Physical characteristics that develop during puberty to distinguish men from women, such as facial and body hair in men, and breast development in women.

seduction - The act of enticing someone into feelings of sexual desire.

self-esteem - The way one feels about one's self.

semen - Fluid containing sperm and seminal and prostatic fluids that is expelled from the penis during ejaculation. Also called ejaculate or, in slang, "cum."

seminal vesicles - Two pouches in the male reproductive system that secrete about 30 percent of the liquid portion of semen.

sensate focus - A series of specific sex therapy exercises for couples that encourages partners to take turns paying increased attention to their own sexual senses, without putting any demands on themselves to perform sexually.

serial monogamy - A common pattern of having sexually exclusive, committed relationships that occur in succession.

sex addict - A misnomer referring to someone who has a sexual compulsion.

sex education - Formal or informal lessons that people learn about sex. Informal sex education is what people learn about sex from friends, parents, siblings, television, movies, magazines, newspapers, music, and the culture all around us. Formal sex education may include classes provided in a school or in a religious setting. Sex education, formal and informal, may contain information about biology, psychology, social issues, cultural issues, moral issues, and ethical issues.

sexologist - A sexual scientist. May also refer to a sex therapist, sex counselor, or sex educator.

sexology - The scientific study of sexuality, which includes, but is not limited to, studies of psychology, sociology, biology, psychiatry, anthropology, ethics, medicine, law, and education.

sex toys - Objects that are brought into sex play with the purpose of giving additional pleasure.

sexual compulsion - A disorder marked by complete preoccupation with sex, so much so that the sexually compulsive person spends all of his or her time and money on sex. Sometimes mistakenly called sex addiction.

sexual desire disorder, or inhibited sexual desire - Loss of or inability to have the desire to want to have sex.

sexual fantasy - An image or sexual scenario that one creates with one's imagination and may or may not act out.

sexual identity - How a person thinks of himself or herself in terms of who he or she finds sexually and romantically attractive.

sexual orientation - A person's pattern of attractiveness toward the opposite or the same gender.

sexual response - The stages of physical and psychological changes that men and women go through in relation to sexual stimulation. These are desire, arousal, plateau, orgasm, and resolution.

sexuality - All aspects of one's personality and behaviors that are affected by one's being male or female.

sixty-nine - Mutual oral sex, so named because the couple participating resembles the numbers 6 and 9 when they are in this sexual position.

sperm - The male reproductive cell that is contained in semen, released during ejaculation, and may be united with a woman's egg to cause fertilization and to create life.

spermicide - Chemicals that kill sperm, usually referring to foam, jelly, cream, film, and suppositories inserted into the vagina to cover the cervix and prevent pregnancy.

STD - The abbreviation for sexually transmitted disease, which is any disease that can be transmitted through sexual contact. This was formerly referred to as VD, or venereal disease.

sterilization - Medical operations performed to prevent the possibility of reproduction. In males, the procedure is called a vasectomy; in females, it's called a tubal ligation. Sterilization is the most popular and most effective method of birth control.

swinging - Sex with a person or people other than one's partner that takes place with the consent, and usually the participation of, one's partner and may occur in private or at a swing party or swing club.

syphilis - A sexually transmitted virus that may first appear as sores and rashes and may be accompanied by flulike symptoms.

Tantra - The term applied to a broad range of principles and practices of sexual union between a man and a woman based on Eastern philosophies of spirituality. Sanskrit for "woven together."

testicles (testes) - The two small, oval glands in the scrotum that produce sperm and male hormones.

testicular self-exam - A monthly test that a man can perform on himself to determine whether he has any abnormal lumps in his testes. The exam involves palpitation of the testes.

testosterone - The most influential male hormone. It is produced in the testicles.

top - A person who derives erotic pleasure from assuming temporary, consensual control over another person. Also known as "dominant" or "master" or "mistress."

transgender - The umbrella term that includes all people who have a desire to experience qualities of the opposite gender; includes crossdressers and transsexuals.

transsexual - A person who feels that the sex he or she was born with is not the sex he or she was meant to have. To rectify this, some transsexuals choose to undergo hormone therapy and sex-reassignment surgery.

transvestite - Someone, usually a heterosexual, who feels the urge to dress like someone of the opposite sex. People who practice this sexual lifestyle prefer the term crossdresser.

trichomoniasis - An infection that can cause vaginal discharge, itching, and odor in women. It is often asymptomatic in men.

tubal ligation - A surgical method of permanent birth control – sterilization -- in which a woman's fallopian tubes are tied so that the egg cannot travel from the ovaries to the uterus.

unrequited love - One-sided love; a crush or infatuation.

urinary tract infection - An infection of the urinary tract that causes burning during urination and urgency to urinate.

uterus - An internal organ of the female reproductive system; also known as the womb.

vagina - The muscular passageway that leads from the uterus to the vulva. The birth canal, the passageway for menstrual flow to leave the body, and the area that receives the penis during sexual intercourse.

vaginismus - A sexual dysfunction in which a woman's vaginal muscles contract so tightly that nothing can penetrate. Can be treated in sex therapy.

vaginitis - A general term for a vaginal inflammation.

vas deferens - Two narrow tubes that convey sperm to the point that it can mix with the other constituents that make up semen.

vasectomy - A surgical method of permanent birth control -- sterilization -- that involves cutting and tying the vas deferens so that a man does not ejaculate sperm, yet he still ejaculates semen.

vasocongestion - A physical result of sexual arousal in men and women. In women, vasocongestion involves swelling and reddening of the inner vaginal lips. In men, it is marked by engorgement of blood in the penis that leads to erection. Breasts may also swell.

Viagra - A medication that is used to treat erectile dysfunction in some men; it may not be for all men, and it may have side effects.

vibrator - An electric or battery-operated vibrating device that is usually intended for stimulation of the genitals but can also be used to massage anywhere on the body.

voyeur - A person who gets erotic pleasure from watching others engage in sexual acts or nudity.

vulva - The term that collectively refers to all of the external female sexual structures: the mons veneris, the labia majora and minora, the clitoris, the Bartholin's glands, the urethral opening, and vaginal openings.

vulvodynia - A treatable condition in which a woman feels pain or a burning sensation in or around her vulva.

yin and yang - Words from the Chinese Taoist tradition that represent the concept of complete balance in the universe. Taoists believe that yin energy, which represents the woman, is needed to balance yang energy, which represents the man.

Copyright (c) Sari Locker, Ph.D. 2009

Use of this article without permission from the author is a violation of federal copyright laws.

This writing may not be reproduced. Portions of this glossary are from excerpted from Dr. Sari Locker's book, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Amazing Sex.