Symptoms & Definitions

Medical terms can be confusing and difficult to understand. This page lists many of the terms we use and what they actually mean. We hope you find it helpful.

  • Pain Open or Close

    Bladder pain - this is a pain, pressure or discomfort felt just above or behind the pubic bone and usually increases with bladder filling. It may persist or be relieved after voiding.

    Bladder Pain Syndrome - Bladder pain syndrome (BPS) or interstitial cystitis (IC) as it was formerly known, is defined as chronic (more than six months) pelvic pain, pressure or discomfort perceived to be related to the urinary bladder accompanied by at least one other urinary symptom such as persistent urge to void or frequency.

    Urethral pain - pain is felt in the urethra, the tube through which you pass urine.

    Urethral pain syndrome - is the occurrence of repeated episodes of urethral pain usually on passing urine, with day-time frquency and nocturia, in the absence of proven urine infection or other obvious abnormality.

  • Bowel Symptoms Open or Close

    Flatal incontinence – complaint of involuntary loss of flatus (wind).

    Faecal incontinence - this is the involuntary loss of faeces (solid or liquid).

  • Pelvic Organ Prolapse Open or Close

    Pelvic organ prolapse - the descent of one or more of the anterior vaginal wall, the posterior vaginal wall, and the top of the vagina (cervix/uterus). Symptoms are generally worse after prolonged standing or exercise, and better after lying down. Prolapse may be more prominent when straining.

    Cystocele - prolapse of the bladder, i.e. there is a bulge of the front (anterior) wall of the vagina. Despite what the name suggests there is no cyst.

    Rectocele - prolapse of the rectum (which is the lowest part of the bowel), i.e. there is a bulge of the back (posterior) wall of the vagina. Some women have to strain, push on the back wall of the vagina or perineum or insert fingers into the rectum to assist bowel evacuation.

    Enterocele - prolapse of the small bowel; there is a bulge of the top of the vagina (if you have had a hysterectomy) or the top of the back wall of the vagina (if you have not).

    (Total) Hysterectomy - removal of the womb (including the cervix) either through a cut in the tummy or through the vagina.

    Subtotal Hysterectomy - removal of the womb (through a cut in the tummy) but not the cervix (neck of the womb).

    A hysterectomy only refers to the womb and does not mean removal of the ovaries although this can be done at the same time if necessary.

  • Urinary Symptoms Open or Close

    Frequency - is the complaint by the patient who considers that he/she voids too often by day.

    Nocturia - the individual has to wake at night one or more times to pass urine.

    Urgency - a sudden compelling desire to pass urine, which is difficult to defer.

    Urinary Incontinence - any voluntary leakage of urine. Urinary leakage may need to be distinguished from sweating or vaginal discharge.

    Stress Urinary Incontinence - involuntary leakage of urine on effort or exertion, or on sneezing, coughing or laughing. Nothing to do with psychological stress.

    Urge Urinary Incontinence - involuntary leakage of urine accompanied by or immediately preceded by urgency.

    Mixed Urinary Incontinence - involuntary leakage of urine associated with urgency, and also with exertion, effort, sneezing or laughing.

    Overactive bladder (OAB) – urinary urgency, usually accompanied by frequency and nocturia, with or without urge urinary incontinence.

    Enuresis - any involuntary loss of urine.

    Nocturnal Enuresis - loss of urine occurring during sleep.

    Continuous urinary incontinence - the complaint of continuous leakage of urine.

    Insensible urinary incontinence – complaint of incontinence where the woman has been unaware of how it occurred.

    Other types of urinary incontinence - may be situational, e.g. incontinence during sexual intercourse, or giggle incontinence. Women may leak urine during intercourse (penetration) or at orgasm.

    Hesitancy - difficulty in initiating micturition resulting in a delay in the onset of voiding after the individual is ready to pass urine.

    Intermittent stream - a stop-start urine flow.

    Slow stream - the perception of reduced urine flow, usually compared to previous performance or in comparison to others.

    Straining - straining to void describes the muscular effort used to either initiate, maintain or improve the urinary stream.

    Incomplete emptying - a self-explanatory term for a feeling experienced by the individual after passing urine.

    Post-micturition dribble - the term used when an individual describes the involuntary loss of urine immediately after he or she has finished passing urine, usually after leaving the toilet in men, or after rising from the toilet in women.

    Micturition/voiding – the act of passing urine.