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Fibroids - Fibroids Glossary

BMJ Group Medical Reference


allergic reaction

You have an allergic reaction when your immune system overreacts to a substance that is normally harmless. You can be allergic to particles in the air you are breathing, like pollen (which causes hay fever) or to chemicals on your skin, like detergents (which can cause a rash). People can also have an allergic reaction to drugs, like penicillin.


If you have an allergy to something (such as pollen or a medicine), your body always overreacts to it. The reaction happens because your immune system (your body's system for fighting infection) is too sensitive to it.


Anaemia is when you have too few red blood cells. Anaemia can make you get tired and breathless easily. It can also make you look pale. Anaemia can be caused by a number of different things, including problems with your diet, blood loss and some diseases.


These medicines are used to help your immune system fight infection. There are a number of different types of antibiotics that work in different ways to get rid of bacteria, parasites, and other infectious agents. Antibiotics do not work against viruses.


Arthritis is when your joints become inflamed, making them stiff and painful. There are different kinds of arthritis. Osteoarthritis is the most common type. It happens when the cartilage at the end of your bones becomes damaged and then starts to grow abnormally. Rheumatoid arthritis happens because your immune system attacks the lining of your joints.


Your bladder is the hollow organ at the top of your pelvis that stores urine. It is similar to a balloon, only with stronger walls. It fills up with urine until you go to the toilet.

blood clot

A blood clot forms when the cells in blood clump together. Sometimes this happens to stop you from bleeding if you've had an injury. But it can also happen on the inside of your blood vessels, even when you haven't had an injury. A blood clot inside a blood vessel is called a thrombus.

caesarean section

A caesarean section is an operation to take a baby out of a mother's womb. The surgeon makes a cut through her abdomen to take the baby out. You have this if there's a risk that a normal delivery through your vagina would cause harm to you or your baby.


The cervix is a piece of tissue that sits between a woman's womb and her vagina. It has a small opening in it that gets much bigger when a woman is having a baby.


A cyst is a sac or cavity that develops under your skin and is filled with fluid. Cysts are benign, which means that they are not cancerous.


Diarrhoea is when you have loose, watery stools and you need to go to the toilet far more often than usual. Doctors say you have diarrhoea if you need to go to the toilet more than three times a day.

fallopian tubes

Fallopian tubes are the two tubes that come out of the top of a woman's womb. They carry eggs from the ovaries to the womb.


If you have a fever, your body temperature is above 37 degrees Celsius (98.6 degrees Fahrenheit). With a fever you often get other symptoms, such as shivering, headache or sweating. A fever is usually caused by an infection.

general anaesthetic

You may have a type of medicine called a general anaesthetic when you have surgery. It is given to make you unconscious so you don't feel pain when you have surgery.

heart attack

Doctors call a heart attack an acute myocardial infarction (or acute MI). This is the name for the damage that occurs to the heart muscle if it isn't getting enough blood and oxygen because a branch of the coronary arteries is blocked. During a heart attack, you may have pain or heaviness over your chest, and pain, numbness or tingling in your jaw and left arm.

hormone replacement therapy

Hormone replacement therapy (also called HRT) is given to women after the menopause to replace the oestrogen (the main female hormone) that is no longer made by their ovaries. It can be given either as oestrogen alone or as a combination of oestrogen and progesterone (another female hormone). It is useful to treat menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes, and to prevent brittle bone disease (osteoporosis). But there are concerns that it may increase the risk of breast cancer, heart attacks and strokes.


Hormones are chemicals that are made in certain parts of the body. They travel through the bloodstream and have an effect on other parts of the body. For example, the female sex hormone oestrogen is made in a woman's ovaries. Oestrogen has many different effects on a woman's body. It makes the breasts grow at puberty and helps control periods. It is also needed to get pregnant.


A hysterectomy is an operation to take out a woman's womb (also called her uterus). Sometimes the ovaries and fallopian tubes are removed as well.


You get an infection when bacteria, a fungus, or a virus get into a part of your body where it shouldn't be. For example, an infection in your nose and airways causes the common cold. An infection in your skin can cause rashes such as athlete's foot. The organisms that cause infections are so tiny that you can't see them without a microscope.


Inflammation is when your skin or some other part of your body becomes red, swollen, hot, and sore. Inflammation happens because your body is trying to protect you from germs, from something that's in your body and could harm you (like a splinter) or from things that cause allergies (these things are called allergens). Inflammation is one of the ways in which your body heals an infection or an injury.


Your intestine is a long tube that runs from your stomach to your rectum. Your intestine is divided into two parts: the small intestine and the large intestine. The small intestine helps your body absorb nutrients. The large intestine helps your body absorb water and other materials.

intrauterine device (IUD)

An intrauterine device (IUD) is a type of contraceptive. It is a small device made of copper or plastic, with threads at the end. These threads can be left in your vagina while the rest of the device sits in your womb (cervix). IUDs stop eggs sticking to your womb and growing.

local anaesthetic

A local anaesthetic is a painkiller that's used to numb one part of your body. You usually get local anaesthetics as injections.


When a woman stops having periods, it is called the menopause. This usually happens around the age of 50.


A miscarriage is when something happens before the 28th week of pregnancy that means the fetus does not survive.

MRI scan

A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine uses a magnetic field to create detailed pictures of the inside of your body.


Osteoporosis is when your bones get too brittle. It happens if not enough new bone tissue is growing to keep bones strong. If you have osteoporosis, the bones in your body may break easily.


Women have two ovaries, one on each side of their womb. They are small glands that store eggs. Inside the ovaries are hundreds of thousands of pre-eggs, called follicles. Some of these grow into eggs.


Your pelvis is the area between your hips.


The placenta is an organ that grows in the womb during pregnancy. It joins the woman to the growing baby. The placenta provides the baby with oxygen, water and nutrients from the mother's blood. It also produces the hormones that are involved in pregnancy.

randomised controlled trials

Randomised controlled trials are medical studies designed to test whether a treatment works. Patients are split into groups. One group is given the treatment being tested (for example, an antidepressant drug) while another group (called the comparison or control group) is given an alternative treatment. This could be a different type of drug or a dummy treatment (a placebo). Researchers then compare the effects of the different treatments.

red blood cells

Red blood cells are the part of your blood that makes it red. Their main job is to carry oxygen from your heart and lungs to the tissues of your body. Once these cells unload oxygen, they pick up carbon dioxide. They take carbon dioxide back to your lungs so it can be breathed out of your body.


A feeling of relaxation and calm, or the act of creating a feeling of calm by administering a drug.


You have a stroke when the blood supply to a part of your brain is cut off. This damages your brain and can cause symptoms like weakness or numbness on one side of your body. You may also find it hard to speak if you've had a stroke.

systematic reviews

A systematic review is a thorough look through published research on a particular topic. Only studies that have been carried out to a high standard are included. A systematic review may or may not include a meta-analysis, which is when the results from individual studies are put together.


An ulcer is an open sore. Ulcers can happen in many parts of your body, such as in your stomach, and the skin of your legs, mouth, or genitals.

ultrasound probe

Ultrasound is a technique doctors use to create images of the organs in your body. An ultrasound probe is a device that lets the ultrasound machine focus on an area of your body. The ultrasound machine can then sends out high-frequency sound waves, which reflect off parts of your body to create a picture.


Ultrasound is a tool doctors use to create images of the inside of your body. An ultrasound machine sends out high-frequency sound waves, which are directed at an area of your body. The waves reflect off parts of your body to create a picture. Ultrasound is often used to see a developing baby inside a woman's womb.

urinary tract infection

A urinary tract infection (UTI) happens when bacteria invade the walls of your urinary tract, which includes your kidneys, bladder and urethra. An uncomplicated UTI is one that involves your bladder and urethra, but not your kidneys. A complicated UTI involves your kidneys and can be harder to treat. Doctors may refer to a kidney infection as pyelonephritis.


This is the passage from a woman's womb (uterus) to the outside of her body.


X-rays are pictures taken of the inside of your body. They are made by passing small amounts of radiation through your body and then onto film.


For references related to Fibroids click here.
Last Updated: August 15, 2013
This information does not replace medical advice.  If you are concerned you might have a medical problem please ask your Boots pharmacy team in your local Boots store, or see your doctor.
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