When it comes to navigating the health system and advocating for your own health, knowledge is power!

Take a look through our glossary of key terms to make sure you are always in the know and build your own health literacy.

Does something not look right or can’t find what you are looking for? Let us know here!



Abortion is a safe and common method to end a pregnancy.

There are two types of abortion available in Australia:

  • Surgical abortion is most commonly performed during the first trimester of pregnancy (up to 12 weeks). The procedure is usually performed under light sedation and uses gentle suction to remove the lining and contents of the uterus. Surgical abortions past 12
    weeks will most likely mean you will need to travel to Melbourne.
  • Medication abortion can be performed up to nine weeks of pregnancy. The method involves taking a combination of two tablets to bring on a miscarriage. Medication abortions are more accessible in rural areas and in some circumstances can be arranged through a telehealth appointment.

Active Bystander

Someone who sees, hears or is aware of behaviours that are inappropriate or threatening, and chooses to do something about it. 

Active bystanders are individuals who stand up and call out attitudes and behaviours that contribute towards violence against women such as sexism and sexual harassment. 

Want to learn how to become an Active Bystander? Find out more here.


Adenomyosis is a condition of the uterus (womb) where the cells similar to the lining on the inside of the uterus are also present in the muscle wall of the uterus.

Adenomyosis is generally diagnosed via a laparoscopy and is often found in people who have also been diagnosed with endometriosis.

Anal Sex

A penis or sex toy is inserted into an anus for sexual pleasure / during sexual intercourse.


The anus is the opening where the gastrointestinal tract ends and exits the body.


Anxiety is excessive and uncontrollable anticipation of future perceived threats.

Feeling anxious in certain situations can help us avoid danger, triggering our ‘fight or flight’ response. This is how we have evolved to keep ourselves safe.

However, when your worries don’t go away, happen for no particular reason, are out of proportion to the situation or get in the way of your daily life, this may indicate that you have an anxiety disorder.

Remember – it is ok to not be ok, and help is always available.

If you need immediate assistance, contact the below 24/7 crisis support centres:


Asexual means not experiencing any sexual attraction towards other people.


Birth Trauma

Birth Trauma happens whena. Wound, serious injury or damage occurs duringthe child birthing experience. It can be physical or psychological (deeply upsetting or distressing) or a combination of both. Both mother and father/non-birthing parent can be affected by birth trauma.


Bisexual means being attracted to the gender that is the same as your own, AND to other genders. Some people use it to mean “attracted to two or more genders”.

Breast Cancer

Breast cancer occurs when abnormal cells in the breast grow in an uncontrolled way. Breast cancer can occur in both males and females but is far more common in females.

Breast Screen

Breast screening (also known as mammogram) is the best way to detect breast cancer early. Screening mammograms use low dose x-rays of the breasts to detect cancers that are too small to be felt by you or your doctor.


Caesarian Section (C-Section)

Caesarean section, also known as C-section or caesarean delivery, is the surgical procedure where one or more babies are delivered or birthed through an incision in the mother’s abdomen, often performed because vaginal delivery would put the baby or mother at risk.

Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancer is the growth of abnormal cells in the lining of the cervix. The most common cervical cancer is squamous cell carcinoma, accounting for 70% of cases. Adenocarcinoma is less common (about 25% of cases) and more difficult to diagnose because it starts higher in the cervix.

Cervical Screen

A test to see if your cervix is healthy or has Human Papillomavirus infection.


Most females have a cervix. It is inside. It is the lower part of the uterus and has a small hole to the vagina. It opens very wide for a baby to be born.


A cisgender person is someone whose sense of personal identity and gender matches or corresponds with their birth sex.

For example, if a doctor determines someone at birth as a female and this person identifies as a woman, they are cisgender.

See related: transgender.


Your clitoris is the pleasure centre of your reproductive anatomy. Many people think of the clitoris as the tiny nub of flesh located at the top of the genitals (vulva), but this is just the part of the clitoris you can see. Your clitoris consists of a complex network of erectile tissue and nerves, with parts located inside and outside your body


The practice of persuading someone to do something by using force or threats. Reproductive coercion refers to any behaviour that has the intention of controlling or constraining another person’s reproductive health decision-making and can take a variety of forms.

For example: Sabotage of another person’s contraception, such as deliberately removing or damaging a condom, or hiding or disposing of oral contraceptives.


Conception occurs when an egg is fertilized with sperm – in other words, when pregnancy is achieved.

See also: Pregnancy.


A condom is a very fine sheath made of rubber or plastic that’s designed to stop body fluids from mixing during sexual activity. Condoms can be used for vaginal, anal or oral sex. They act as contraceptives, and also reduce your risk of getting or spreading sexually transmitted infections (STIs).


Consent is permission from a person(s) for something to happen or agreement to do something.

People have the right to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to things in their lives. Everyone is in charge of their own body. When it comes to having sex with another person, all people involved must give consent. Consent means agreement or permission.


Contraception is a method, medication or device used to prevent pregnancy. It is also called birth control or family planning. If you have sex and do not want to get pregnant, you can use contraception.


A cyst is a sac-like pocket of membranous tissue that contains fluid, air, or other substances. Cysts can grow almost anywhere in your body or under your skin. See also: Ovarian Cyst.


Dental Dam

A dental dam is a thin, flexible piece of latex or polyurethane you can use for protection during oral sex.

You can’t use a dental dam as contraception (birth control), but it can reduce your risk of spreading sexually transmitted infections (STIs).


Depression is a mental health condition, where a person may feel sad, low or lacking in energy  in a way that grows with intensity or lasts for long periods. People with depression can find it difficult to carry on with regular daily tasks during periods of depression.

Depression is among the most common of all mental health conditions — it affects 1 in 16 Australians each year.

Remember – it is ok to not be ok, and help is always available. Support can be found by talking with your GP or mental health professional.

If you need or someone you know requires immediate assistance, contact the below 24/7 crisis support centres. Always call 000 in case of emergency.


A diaphragm is a barrier method of contraception for women. It’s a shallow dome of silicone with a firm and flexible rim. A diaphragm is placed in your vagina like a tampon so that it covers the cervix (entrance to the uterus) and tucks in behind the pubic bone to stop sperm from entering. It’s held in position by the pelvic muscles.


Emergency contraceptive pill (ECP) or Plan B

A pill taken after unprotected sex tostop or delay the release of an egg by the ovary (ovulation). There are two types of ECP.

  • It should be taken as soon as possible after unprotected sex for maximum effectiveness
  • Depending on the type of ECP, it can be effective up to 5 days after unprotected sex
  • It is available over the counter at pharmacies, and some hospital emergency departments


Endometriosis is a common and often painful condition that affects around 10% of women. It can happen any time from when periods start right up to the time of menopause (when periods stop).

Endometriosis happens when the tissue lining the uterus (the endometrium) is found outside the uterus, where it implants and starts to grow and function.

Ethical Porn or Ethical Pornography

Ethical Pornography (porn) is pornography that is made legally, consensually, respects the rights of performers and has good working conditions.

Most ethical porn will require the consumer to pay for the content.

Porn that is available for free on the internet may not be legal, respectful and mostly does not accurately represent what sex / sexual intercourse and bodies look like in reality.


Fallopian Tube

The narrow ducts or tubes in a woman’s abdomen that carry the egg from the ovaries to the uterus. This is where fertilisation most often occurs.


The gender assigned at birth based on female external genitalia (vulva).

Female / Internal Condom (Femidom)

The internal condom (or femidom) is a soft pouch made of nitrile (synthetic rubber), that has two flexible rings at each end. It is inserted into the vagina or anus before having sex.

Female (internal) condoms work as a barrier against pregnancy and STIs. They stop ejaculate (cum) from entering the vagina or anus.



Gay is most commonly used to describe someone who is attracted to someone of the same identified gender.


Gender or Gender Identity is our sense of self when it comes to masculine or feminine. Basically, it’s how we feel in our mind. For a lot of people, gender identity will match their sex. This is called being cisgender.

See related:  female / male / cisgender / transgender

Gender Equality

Gender equality is when people of all genders have equal rights, responsibilities and opportunities. Everyone is affected by gender inequality – women, men, trans and gender diverse people, children and families. It impacts people of all ages and backgrounds.

Gender equality prevents violence against women and girls, is essential for economic prosperity and is a human right. Everyone benefits from gender equality, as societies that value women and men as equal are safer and healthier.

Gender Equity

Gender equity is the fair treatment of women and men according to their respective needs. This may include equal treatment, or it may include treatment that is different but considered equivalent in terms of rights, benefits, obligations, and opportunities.

Gender equity ensures opportunities are not limited on the basis of gender. It corrects for gender biases so that economic outcomes improve for everyone.

Gender Roles

Gender roles are stereotypes regarding attitudes, attributes, and actions imposed on men and women based on gender.

Gender stereotypes are a set of preconceptions regarding the role of a certain gender in society. These characteristics are then attributed to every person of that gender, often causing individuals harm and distress. Gender roles perpetuate inequality and greatly affect minorities that may not be in a position to reject these stereotypes.

Gendered Drivers of Violence Against Women

Gender inequality creates the social conditions for violence against women to occur. There are four key expressions of gender inequality that have been found to predict or drive this violence.

  1. Condoning of violence against women
  2. Men’s control of decision-making and limits to women’s independence in public and private life
  3. Rigid gender stereotyping and dominant forms of masculinity
  4. Male peer relations and cultures of masculinity that emphasise aggression, dominance and control

See also: Gender Roles, PVAW, Violence Against Women. 

General Practitioner (GP)

A general practitioner (GP) is a doctor who is also qualified in general medical practice. GPs are often the first point of contact for someone, of any age, who feels sick or has a health concern. They treat a wide range of medical conditions and health issues.


Gonorrhoea is a sexually transmissible infection (STI) caused by bacteria. It can infect the cervix (top part of vagina), urethra (where urine comes out), rectum (anal passage), throat and occasionally the eyes.


An obstetrician-gynaecologist is a specialist doctor who cares for women and specialises in pregnancy, childbirth and reproductive health. They help women before, during and after childbirth, detect sexually transmitted diseases, perform reproductive health screening and surgical procedures (such as caesareans, hysterectomies and tubal ligations).



Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver. Hepatitis may be caused by alcohol, drugs, toxins or infection with a virus (called viral hepatitis). There are five (5) viruses known to cause hepatitis.

The most common are hepatitis A, B and C.

  • Hepatitis B is a sexually transmissible infection (STI) and blood-borne virus (BBV), which means it can be passed on through sexual contact or by blood-to-blood contact.
  • Hepatitis A and C are not considered STIs however, they can be transmitted (passed on) during some types of sexual contact. Hepatitis C is a BBV.


Genital herpes is one of the most common sexually transmittable infections (STIs). It is transmitted from a person infected or diagnosed with herpes to a sexual partner through vaginal, anal or oral sex, or by genital skin-to-skin contact.


A heterosexual person is someone who is attracted only to people of another gender. Most often refers to men who are exclusively attracted to women and women who are exclusively attracted to men.


HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. It is a virus that weakens the immune system. It attacks and takes over the immune cells, using them to reproduce itself and go on to infect other cells. It is primarily transmitted in blood, semen and vaginal fluids via condomless sex or sharing injecting equipment.

HIV is the virus that can cause AIDS.

Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is not a single disease. It is a diagnosis that results from a spectrum of conditions that can occur when a person’s immune system is seriously damaged after years of attack by HIV.

The terms HIV and AIDS are not interchangeable.


A holistic approach means to provide support that looks at the whole person, not just one part or issue. A holistic approach considers the physical, mental emotional, social and spiritual needs.

See also: Naturopath


Homophobia is fear or hatred of people who are gay, lesbian or bisexual. Homophobia is an irrational fear or prejudice – and is something we work to eliminate in our community so that all people – regardless of their sexuality – can feel safe and respected.


Homosexual is being attracted to people of the same gender. For example: a man who is attracted to another man, or a woman who is attracted to another woman.

See also: gay / lesbian


Hormones are chemicals that cause changes in our bodies and brains. They naturally exist and can also be made in a lab.

Hormones travel through the body via tissue fibres such as blood, and can influence behaviour, mood and sexual arousal.

Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is a group of viruses that infect the skin or moist areas of the body. This results in warts on various parts of the body. HPV is the most common sexually transmissible infection (STI). Most people who are sexually active will be infected with at least one type of HPV at some time.


Hysterectomy is the surgical removal of the womb (uterus), with or without the cervix. The operation may also be with or without the removal of the ovaries and the fallopian tubes.


Infertility is defined as the inability to conceive within a 12-month period while actively trying. Infertility applies to both the male and female reproductive systems.

Injectible Contraception Depo

A progestogen injection given regularly every 12 weeks.

  • You will need to get a script from your doctor, collect from your pharmacy and  take back to the clinic to have the Depo injected.
  •  Periods usually stop while using this method
  • No medications stop it from working and can be used while breastfeeding
  • You will need a script
  • It may cause side effects, including irregular bleeding, weight gain, moodiness, and pimples, this could last until the injection wears off
  • It may temporarily delay a return to normal periods after stopping the injections


The mixed nature of social factors such as race, class, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group, often creating an overlap and susceptibility of discrimination or disadvantage.


People are born with different kinds of bodies. People who are intersex are born with natural variations in their body that differ from what we might expect to be ‘typically’ male/ female. This can include (but is not limited to) variations in hormones, chromosomes, and sexual organs. A lot of us are taught that when you have high testosterone that you’re male, but if you’re a male that is born with low testosterone you may describe yourself as intersex. There are heaps of ways that you can be intersex!

Intimate Partner Violence

Intimate partner violence refers to behaviour by an intimate partner or ex-partner that causes physical, sexual or psychological harm, including physical aggression, sexual coercion, psychological abuse and controlling behaviours.

See also: Violence Against Women, Sexual Violence.

Intrauterine Device (IUD)

The Intrauterine Device (IUD) is a small device made of plastic and/or metal that is inserted into the uterus (womb) to prevent pregnancy.

Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) or Artificial Insemination

Intrauterine Insemination (IUI), also known as Artificial Insemination, involves inserting the male partner’s (or donor’s) prepared semen through the neck of the womb (cervix) and into the uterus, close to the time of ovulation. It is a simpler, less invasive form of fertility treatment.

In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF)

IVF (In Vitro Fertilisation) is a procedure, used to overcome a range of fertility issues, by which an egg and sperm are joined together outside the body, in a specialised laboratory. The fertilised egg (embryo) is allowed to grow in a protected environment for some days before being transferred into the woman’s uterus increasing the chance that a pregnancy will occur.


The labia are the ‘lips’ on the outside of the genitals (vulva). They protect the clitoris, vagina and urethra and become engorged during sexual activity.

There are two pairs of labia — labia majora and labia minora.

The size, shape and colour of the labia are different in every woman. One lip can be a different shape or size from the other.

Labia Majora

The Labia Majora are the outer lips of the vagina. This is generally where pubic hair grows.

Labia Minora

The Labia Minora are the hairless folds of skin on the inside that lead to the vagina / surround the vagina hole.


Female genital re-shaping, or labiaplasty, is performed to change the size and shape of the inner labia, the inner lips of the vulva. This is a highly risky procedure where sexual pleasure and sensation, as well as vaginal health, can be significantly impacted. It is important to do your research and understand why you want to proceed with labiaplasty.

Remember – all labia and vulvas are normal. Visit the Labia Library to find more info, useful facts and photos.


Laparoscopy is a medical procedure used to examine the interior of the abdominal or pelvic cavities for the diagnosis or treatment (or both) of a number of different diseases and conditions. For example: endometriosis, adenomyosis, ovarian cysts.


A woman whose enduring physical, romantic, and/ or emotional attraction is to other women. Some lesbians may prefer to identify as gay or as gay women.


LGBTQIA+ is an abbreviation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Questioning, Intersex, Asexual, and more. These terms are used to describe a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.


A lubricant is a liquid or gel that women and their partners can apply during sex to make the vulva, vagina, or anal area wetter. Lubricant can also be applied to a man’s penis or a sex toy to make them more slippery.



The gender assigned at birth based on male external genitalia (penis, scrotum).


A mastectomy is the surgical removal of a breast. Trans and nonbinary people may have double mastectomies to better fit their gender identity. Some people may have a mastectomy to treat or prevent breast cancer.


Menopause, also known as ‘the change of life’, is the end of menstruation (having periods) in a woman’s life. It is a natural occurrence at the end of the reproductive years, just as the first period during puberty was the start.

Menstrual Cup and Menstrual Disc

Menstrual cups or discs are reusable, bell-shaped devices made of silicon or rubber which are worn internally. They sit low in the vaginal canal and collect, rather than absorb, the menstrual flow.

Menstrual discs are slightly flatter and wider than cups, and are best for people who have a low cervix height. Some menstrual discs can also be worn during penetrative sexual intercourse – remember: menstrual discs or cups are not a form of contraception.

Visit www.littlemissperiod.com/collections/menstrual-cups-and-discs to read more about menstrual cups and discs, to find a product suited to you or to purchase. Little Miss Period is based in Gippsland – what a bonus!

Menstrual Pad

A menstrual pad (often referred to as ‘pad’) is an absorbent reusable or disposable lining made of cotton or similar materials that you wear in your underwear against your vulva and vagina to absorb menstrual flow. These are often worn by people who do not want to use a menstrual cup, disc or tampon, or in combination with these items for extra protection.

Pads come in different shapes and sizes depending on use (e.g. sleeping /night time, sports) or heaviness of flow (e.g. liners for spotting or start / end of period, or thicker / longer for the heavier days).

Pads are also available for other concerns such as incontinence, bladder leakage or post-birth.

Menstruation (aka Period)

Menstruation or menstrual bleeding is the elimination of the egg and thickened lining of the uterus (endometrium) from the body through the vagina. Menstrual fluid contains blood, cells from the lining of the uterus (endometrial cells) and mucus.

Menstruation is commonly referred to as period.

Mental Health

Good mental health is a state of wellbeing in which every individual realises their own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to their community.

Mental health conditions can include anxiety, depression and suicide.

People who are concerned with mental health are encouraged to seek help through visiting their GP or health professional to develop a mental health plan to get them back on track.

Remember – it is ok to not be ok, and help is always available.

If you need immediate assistance, contact the below 24/7 crisis support centres:

More information can also be found here.



Mindfulness is a type of meditation in which you focus on being intensely aware of what you’re sensing and feeling in the moment, without interpretation or judgment. Practicing mindfulness involves breathing methods, guided imagery, and other practices to relax the body and mind and help reduce stress.


Mirena is a hormonal intrauterine device (IUD) that can provide long-term birth control (contraception). The device is a T-shaped plastic frame that’s inserted into the uterus, where it releases a type of the hormone progestin.


A miscarriage occurs when an embryo or fetus dies before the 20th week of pregnancy. The loss of a baby after 20 weeks is called a stillbirth. Up to 1 in 5 confirmed pregnancies end in miscarriage before 20 weeks, but many other women miscarry without having realised they are pregnant.



A professional naturopath is someone who has completed, at a minimum, an Advanced Diploma in either Naturopathy or Health Science, is registered with a professional body. Naturopathy takes a holistic approach to wellness. Naturopathy supports a person to live a healthy lifestyle. A range of therapies are used to support the person. Therapies may include nutritional medicine, diet advice, herbal medicine, homeopathy, lifestyle advice, and tactile therapies, such as massage, acupressure.


The peak of sexual arousal, when all the muscles that were tightened during sexual arousal relax, usually causing a very pleasurable feeling.

Ovarian Cyst

An ovarian cyst is a growth on an ovary. Usually benign (not cancerous). May cause varying degrees of abdominal or belly pain, irregular periods, and sometimes requires treatment or surgical removal.


The ovaries are located in the pelvis, one on each side of the uterus (i.e. right and left ovary). Each ovary is about the size and shape of an almond. The ovaries produce eggs (ova) and female hormones. During each monthly menstrual cycle, an egg is released from one ovary. The egg travels from the ovary through a fallopian tube to the uterus.


Pansexual describes the sexual, romantic or emotional attraction towards people regardless of their sex or gender identity.

Pelvic Floor

The pelvic floor muscles support the bladder, uterus, and bowel. Pelvic floor muscles support the bladder, bowel and the uterus. They prevent incontinence of bladder and bowel, prolapse and are also important in sexual function.

Pelvic Pain

The lowest part of your abdomen and pelvis. Pelvic pain might refer to symptoms arising from the reproductive, urinary or digestive symptoms or from muscles and ligaments in pelvis. Depending on it source,
pelvic pain can be dull or sharp, the pain might be constant or sometimes and can hurt more during activities such as going to the bathroom or having sex.


Peri-menopause is the stage of life leading up to your last menstrual period, which is known as menopause. During this stage you may experience some of the symptoms of menopause

Peri-Natal Depression

Peri-natal depression is when you experience depression during pregnancy, and affects up to one in ten women in Australia.

Period Poverty

Period poverty is a lack of access to menstrual products, education, hygiene facilities, waste management, or a combination of these. Period poverty is a global problem, with millions of women and girls being held back and even endangered by not being able to afford basic menstrual care.

For more information, visit Share the Dignity.

Physical Health

Any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that requires energy expenditure. Physical activity refers to all movement including during leisure time, for transport to get to and from places, or
as part of a person’s work. Both moderate- and vigorous-intensity physical activity improve health.


Polyamorous is the act of having intimate relationships with more than one person at the same time. A polyamorous person might have or might be open to having multiple romantic partners.


Polygamy is marriage to more than one partner at a time.


Porn, or pornography, is any video, photos, or words that are meant to be sexually exciting or entertaining. Porn is created in various types of media, including movies or film, magazines and books.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a complex hormonal condition. It is relatively common, affecting 8-13% of people with ovaries. However, the majority of people go undiagnosed. People living with PCOS can experience irregular periods, excessive facial and body hair, acne, obesity, reduced fertility and can have an increased risk of diabetes. PCOS can be diagnosed by taking a medical history, examination, blood tests and an ultrasound. Treatment for PCOS includes a healthy diet and exercise and targeted therapy such as hormones and medication.

Post-Exposure Prophylaxis

Medicine that helps prevent HIV (or other infections) if started within a few days after being exposed.

Post-natal or Post-partum Depression

Post-Natal or Post-Partum Depression is a mood disorder or depression that occurs in mothers after the birth of a baby. Usually this will be a short-term disorder and impacts almost 500,000 mothers per year.

Common signs of postnatal depression can include:
  • feeling low or not feeling anything (feeling numb)
  • feeling hopeless or worthless
  • losing interest in others, including your new baby

It is important to seek support from trusted networks – close friends, family, mother’s groups – as post-natal depression is more common than you may think, and nothing to be ashamed by.

For assistance, speak with your GP or health professional.

If you need immediate help, contact the below 24/7 crisis support centres:



Pregnancy is the period from conception to birth. Conception occurs when an egg is fertilized by a sperm, which implants in the lining of the uterus. This then develops into the placenta and embryo, and later into a fetus.

Pregnancy usually lasts 40 weeks, beginning from the first day of the woman’s last menstrual period, and is divided into three trimesters, each lasting three months.


Prevention of Violence Against Women (PVAW)

PVAW refers to the primary prevention of men’s violence against women and girls.

Primary prevention requires changing the social conditions, such as gender inequality, that excuse, justify or even promote violence against women and their children.

Individual behaviour change may be the intended result of prevention activity, but such change cannot be achieved prior to, or in isolation from, a broader change in the underlying drivers of such violence across communities, organisations and society as a whole. A primary prevention approach works across the whole population to address the attitudes, practices and power differentials that drive violence against women and their children.

See also: Gender Drivers, Violence Against Women. 



Queer is a common umbrella term used to refer to anyone who is same gender-attracted (i.e. gay, lesbian) or gender-diverse.


A Quickie is a brief act or instance of having sex.



In Victoria, sex is considered rape if:

  • Someone sexually penetrates you without your consent, either:
    • while being aware that you are not, or might not be, consenting
    • while not giving any thought to whether you are not, or might not be, consenting
  • After you start having sex, the other person does not stop after becoming aware that you are not, or might not be, consenting … or after you tell them to stop
  • A person makes you sexually penetrate (or not stop penetrating) them or another person or animal. It does not matter if the person being penetrated consents to the act. You must also consent.

Reproductive Health

Sexual and Reproductive health is a field of research, healthcare, and social activism that explores the health of an individual’s reproductive system and sexual wellbeing during all stages of their life.

Good sexual and reproductive health is important for women’s general health and wellbeing. It is central to their ability to make choices and decisions about their lives, including when, or whether, to consider having children.

Reproductive Rights

Reproductive rights refer to the right to make your own decisions about your body. It includes being able to access accurate information about these issues, access sexual and reproductive health services including contraception and abortion. It includes being able to decide on your sexual partner and if you want to have children and how many.



Sex , or gender, is the label assigned at birth of female or male, sometimes intersex.

Sex, or sexual intercourse, is the act of vaginal, anal or manual intercourse or stimulation of genitals with a sexual partner(s).

Sex Positions

The physical position of two or more lovers for sexual intercourse.

Read more here: Women’s Health Mag Sex Positions Guide.

Sex Positivity

Sex positivity is the idea that people should have space to embody, explore, and learn about their sexuality and gender without judgment or shame.

Sex Therapy

Sex Therapy is the treatment to resolve a sexual problem or dysfunction, such as premature ejaculation, inability to have orgasm, or a low level of sexual desire.

Sexual Assault

‘Sexual assault’ is any kind of sexual activity that you were forced, coerced or tricked into doing when you didn’t want to. It refers to a wide range of unwanted sexual behaviours, including:

  • forced, unwanted sex, sexual acts or touching
  • child sexual abuse: using power over a child or adolescent to involve them in sexual activity
  • indecent assault: touching, or threatening to touch, someone else’s body sexually without their consent.

See also: coercion, rape

Sexual Freedom

Sexual Freedom is having the ability to define, explore and experience your own sexuality as you want, without fear of repression or violence. Sexual freedom is freedom of choice – whether it be for reproductive purposes such as abortion, your choice of sexual partner (with their consent), or being open to new sexual experiences.

See also: Reproductive Rights.

Sexual Health

Sexual and Reproductive health is a field of research, healthcare, and social activism that explores the health of an individual’s reproductive system and sexual wellbeing during all stages of their life.

Sexual health is fundamental to the overall health and well-being of individuals, couples and families, and to the social and economic development of communities and countries. Sexual health, when viewed affirmatively, requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination and violence.

Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI)

Sexually transmissible infections (STIs) are infections which can be passed from one person to another during unprotected sexual contact or intercourse.

Symptoms include abnormal vaginal discharge, rashes, pain and itching in vagina and blisters on penis, pain during urination and ejaculation, abnormal discharge from penis.

It is also very common to have an STI and not experience any symptoms.swwww

Common types of STIs include:

  • Chlamydia
  • Genital herpes
  • Genital warts
  • Gonorrhoea
  • Hepatitis B
  • HIV
  • AIDS
  • Syphilis

See also: STI Test.

Sexual Violence

Sexual violence is any sexual act, attempt to obtain a sexual act, or other act directed against a person’s sexuality using coercion, by any person regardless of their relationship to the victim, in any setting. It includes rape, defined as the physically forced or otherwise coerced penetration of the vulva or anus with a penis, other body part or object, attempted rape, unwanted sexual touching and other non-contact forms including verbal and online abuse.

Sex Worker

A Sex Worker is a person who is paid for providing sex or sexually arousing activities, including phone or camera sex, erotic massage, lap dancing, or striptease.


Stealthing is the act of a man removing a condom from his penis during sex without the other person’s consent or knowledge. Stealthing is considered sexual assault and is officially illegal in ACT, Tasmania and Victoria, in line with many other countries worldwide. Other states in Australia judge on a case-by-case basis.


In Australia, stillbirth is the birth of a baby who has died any time from 20 weeks into the pregnancy. The baby may have died during the pregnancy or, less commonly, during birth. If the length of pregnancy is not known, the birth will be considered a stillbirth if the baby weighs 400 grams or more.

STI Test

An STI test is provided by GPs as a way to diagnose whether you have a sexually transmitted infection (STI). It is quick and painless. It’s really important to have STI tests regularly if you are sexually active, even if you don’t have any symptoms.


Suicide is the leading cause of death for people aged between 15 and 49, and occurs when a person intentionally ends their own life. Suicide occurs due to a number of complex factors, often including psychological, social, environmental and/or situational.

Some risk factors can include:

  • stressful life events – e.g. financial problems, relationship breakdown
  • grief and loss
  • physical illness
  • poor mental health – e.g. depression – or a history of poor mental health
  • misusing drugs or alcohol
  • poor living conditions, homelessness or poverty
  • trauma
  • family violence, sexual assault or abuse

Remember – help is always available.

In an emergency, always contact 000. 

If you or someone you know need immediate assistance, contact the below 24/7 crisis support centres:

More information can also be found here.

(The) Pill

‘The Pill’ is the common name for the oral contraceptive pill that are taken by women or people with a uterus to prevent pregnancy.

There are two types of oral contraceptives:

  1. The Combined Pill (contains both estrogen and progestogen)
  2. The Mini Pill (contains progestogen only)

You use oral contraceptives by swallowing one pill at the same time or around the same time every day.



Tampons are cotton plugs that you put in your vagina to soak up blood during your period or menstruation. They have a string on the end to make removing them easier. Sometimes they come with plastic applicators that help to insert them, which work like a syringe. You can get tampons with various absorbency ratings depending on the heaviness of your flow. Tampons when in use, must be changed frequently every few hours.


Transgender people are people whose gender identity is different from the gender they were assigned at birth. “Trans” is often used as shorthand for transgender.

Tubal Ligation

Tubal ligation is a surgical procedure for female sterilization in which the fallopian tubes are permanently blocked, clipped or removed. This prevents the fertilisation of eggs by sperm.



The Urethra is the tube that empties the bladder and carries urine to the urethral opening (the hole you urinate or pee out of). The urethra also carries ejaculate and pre-ejaculate in men and people with penises.


The Uterus is the reproductive organ from which women menstruate and where a pregnancy develops. Also called “womb.”

UTI (Urinary Tract Infection)

A UTI is a bacterial infection of the bladder, the ureters, or the urethra. It is not sexually transmitted. The most common symptom is a frequent urge to pee and pain while peeing. UTIs are curable with antibiotics, which will require a visit to your GP.



The muscular canal that extends from the cervix to the outside of the body. The opening of the vagina is between the legs in the vulva. Most females have a vagina.

Vaginal Discharge

Vaginal discharge is fluid or mucous made by glands inside the vagina and cervix. You might notice it in your underwear or on toilet paper after you wipe. Vaginal discharge cleans and moistens the vagina and helps prevent and fight infections.

Vaginal Ring

A soft plastic ring which is selfinserted into the vagina and slowly releases low doses of oestrogen and progestogen similar to the pill. It is left in place for 3 weeks and taken out for a week.

  • Your doctor will provide you with a script which you can take to the pharmacy to purchase. You then insert the ring yourself
  • It may make periods lighter, more regular and less painful
  • It may cause side effects such as headaches, nausea, breast tenderness and weight gain
  • May not be suitable if taking other medications or have certain health conditions. Always check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist
  • A small number of people find the vaginal ring uncomfortable.
  • Partners are usually not bothered by the ring during sex

Vaginal Sex

Vaginal sex is sex that involves a penis goes into / penetrates a vagina for sexual pleasure and/or with the aim to conceive a pregnancy.


Vaginismus is painful muscle spasms in the vagina as a response to pressure/contact. Sometimes vaginismus has no known cause, and sometimes happens after psychological or physical trauma.


Vaginitis is the irritation or inflammation of your vagina or vulva due to an infection, allergy, or change in the chemical balance in your vagina.


A procedure that cuts the tube called the vas deferens so that sperm produced in the testes cannot get into the semen (cum).

  • It can be performed by some doctors or a surgeon. The procedure is performed under either local or general anaesthetic
  • It is not immediately effective, it requires about 20 ejaculations to become effective
  • It is considered permanent


A Vibrator is an electrically powered sex toy that applies vibrations to parts of the body for sexual pleasure. Like all sex toys, they can be used solo or as part of sexual intercourse with your partner(s).

Violence Against Women

Any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual, or mental harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.

See also: Intimate Partner Violence, Sexual Violence.


The vulva consists of the external female sex organs – i.e. the outside of a female or woman’s genitals that can be seen between the legs. The vulva includes the mons pubis, labia majora, labia minora, clitoris, vestibular bulbs, vulval vestibule, urinary meatus, the vaginal opening, hymen, and Bartholin’s and Skene’s vestibular glands.


Women's Health Services (WHS)

WHS refers to the collective of Women’s Health Services currently situated in Victoria.

The WHS consists of:

Women's Rights

Women’s rights are the fundamental human rights that were enshrined by the United Nations for every human being on the planet nearly 70 years ago. These rights include the right to live free from violence, slavery, and discrimination; to be educated; to own property; to vote; and to earn a fair and equal wage.

See also: Gender Equality, Gender Equity, Reproductive Rights.