Jargon buster

Do you find yourself confused with the different hormones in the menstrual cycle and what they mean? Or maybe you just spotted 'progesterone’ and ‘progestin’ and now you’re not sure what you’re what you’re looking for.

Explore our reproductive health definitions guide and easily understand the key words that are part of your healthcare journey – at every stage of life. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, get in touch and we’ll be able to help give you more info.

Mini pill/progesterone only pill

Is an oral contraceptive, taken daily, used to prevent a pregnancy.

Combined pill/daily pill/contraceptive pill

Often known as just ‘the pill’, is an oral contraceptive pill, taken daily, containing oestrogen and progesterone used to prevent pregnancy.

Morning-after pill/emergency contraception

This is a pill that can prevent pregnancy after having unprotected sex. There are two types, ellaOne and Levonelle.

Menstrual cycle

The term ‘menstrual cycle’ refers to the natural cycle of hormone fluctuations in the female reproductive system that starts at puberty and allows for pregnancy to be possible. The average length is 28 days.

Follicular phase

Is the first half of the menstrual cycle from days 1 to 14. During this time oestrogen rises and the ovaries prepare to release an egg at ovulation.

Luteal phase

The second half of the menstrual cycle, typically from day 14 to 28, occurring after ovulation. Oestrogen drops and progesterone rises during this time. It ends when the menstrual period bleed begins.


Is the name of one of the natural female sex hormones. This hormone is produced internally and is responsible for thickening the lining of the uterus for pregnancy. If pregnancy doesn’t occur, that lining sheds and becomes a period bleed.


This is the name for the group of synthetic progesterone hormones, sometimes also known as progestins, that are found in some medications such as the daily contraceptive pill.


Is the name of one of the natural female sex hormones. It is produced internally and it’s main role is to regulate the menstrual cycle and is also important in the release of an egg (ovulation).


Follicles in the female reproductive system are small fluid sacs that sit on the ovaries and release hormones that influence the menstrual cycle. They can also release an egg for fertilisation.


Is the middle stage of the menstrual cycle where an egg is released from one of the ovaries and available to be fertilised. It typically happens around day 14.

Period/period bleed

This is the part of the menstrual cycle when a woman bleeds from her vagina for around 2 – 7 days.


The term used to describe a method of preventing pregnancy using a barrier method such as condoms, medication or procedure.


The menopause is the phase of a woman’s reproductive journey when her periods naturally stop.

Period delay medication

Is a medication that stops your period and allows you to control when your period starts. Find out more here.


These are infections that are spread through having unprotected sex with someone who has that infection or disease. Read more about these here.

Unprotected sex

Sexual intercourse without the use of contraception or birth control. For example, condom failure by tearing, slipping off or not using one. Other contraceptive methods would include the daily pill, implant, coil and injection. For more information visit the NHS website here.


A broad term with variations but usually meaning to describe a person’s identity and their desires to the gender they are attracted to.


We use the term ‘sex’ in relation to the biological organs at birth. We use this term when understanding a person's health history and for topics that are specific to sex such as cervical or breast cancer.

Sex assigned at birth

Similar to ‘sex’, we sometimes use this term to help our audience better understand what we’re asking in relation to their reproductive health.


We use the term gender to help us understand how you like to identify yourself. We offer a completely non-judgemental service and would like to address you as your preferred gender. This includes being gender neutral.

PMS (Premenstrual syndrome)

Also known as pre-menstrual tension, is a term used to describe a group of symptoms a woman sometimes experiences a few days before her period starts. These occur due to changes in hormone levels. Symptoms include mood swings, irritability, breast tenderness, bloating and spots on the face.

PMDD (Premenstrual dysphoric disorder)

Similar to PMS but the symptoms are more intense and severe such as feeling very anxious, angry or depressed, and physical symptoms such as cramps, headaches, joint and muscle pain.


An ovary is a gland that produces hormones and stores eggs. There are two ovaries in the female body. During ovulation, an egg is released from one of the ovaries to be fertilised, and if successful, you become pregnant.