The following glossary is adapted from the glossary provided by Planned Parenthood at https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/glossary.
Calendar method: A fertility awareness-based method for predicting fertility in which women chart their menstrual cycles on a calendar. Can be used for contraception or to plan a pregnancy.
Cap: A firm, thimble-like, rubber or silicone cup that is intended to fit securely on the cervix. Used with contraceptive jelly, the cervical cap is a barrier method of birth control that is reversible and available only by prescription. The FemCap is the only cervical cap currently available in the U.S.
Candida: A type of yeast — Candida albicans — and a common cause of vaginitis. Yeast infections may also occur in the penis or scrotum. When they occur orally, they are called “thrush.”
Celibacy: Not having sex. Formerly, not being married.
Cervical cap: See cap.
Cervical mucus: The secretion from the lower end of the uterus into the vagina. It changes in quality and quantity throughout the menstrual cycle, especially around the time of ovulation.
Cervical mucus method: A fertility awareness-based method for predicting a woman’s fertility by observing changes in cervical mucus. Can be used for contraception or for planning a pregnancy.
Cervicitis: An irritation of the cervix. May include abnormal discharge from the cervix that can look and feel like a vaginal discharge.
Cervix: The narrow, lower part — neck — of the uterus, with a narrow opening connecting the uterus to the vagina.
Cesarian section / c-section: Childbirth in which the fetus is taken out of the uterus surgically.
Chancre: A sore on the skin or mucus membrane that is caused by syphilis during the first phase of infection.
Chancroid: A once very common sexually transmitted bacterium that causes open genital sores, called buboes. Only 23 cases were reported in the U.S. in 2007.
Change of life: Common term for menopause.
Chlamydia: A common, sexually transmitted bacterium that can cause sterility and arthritis in women and men.
Climax: An orgasm or to have an orgasm.
Clitoral hood: A small flap of skin formed by the inner labia that covers and protects the clitoris.
Clitoris: The female sex organ that is very sensitive to the touch. It is made of spongy tissue that swells with blood during sexual excitement. The external tip of the clitoris is located at the top of the vulva, where the inner lips meet. The inner structure of the clitoris includes a shaft and two crura (roots or legs) of tissue that extend up to five inches into a woman’s body on both sides of her vagina to attach to the pubic bone. Networks of highly sensitive nerves extend from the crura in the pelvic area. The clitoris is the only organ in the human body whose only purpose is sexual pleasure.
CMV or cytomegalovirus: An infection that may be transmitted through sexual or intimate contact or childbirth and that may cause permanent disability, including hearing loss and mental retardation for infants and blindness and mental disorders for adults.
Coitus: Sex in which the penis enters the vagina. Also called “vaginal intercourse.”
Colposcope: A viewing instrument with a bright light and magnifying lens that is used to examine the vagina and cervix. (Colposcopes are not inserted into a woman’s body.)
Combination pill: A birth control pill that contains the hormones estrogen and progestin.
Combined hormone contraceptives: Birth control methods — the pill, the patch, the ring — that contain the hormones estrogen and progestin.
Combined oral contraceptives: Birth control pills that contain the hormones estrogen and progestin.
Comprehensive sex education: A medically accurate curriculum that provides young people with positive messages about sex and sexuality as natural, normal, healthy parts of life; includes information about abstinence as the best way to avoid sexually transmitted infections and unintended pregnancy; teaches that condoms reduce the risk of infection, including HIV, and that other forms of birth control also reduce the risk of unplanned pregnancy for young people who are sexually active; and provides opportunities to help young people develop relationship and communications skills to help them explore their own values, goals, and options as well as the values of their families and communities.
Conception: The moment when the pre-embryo attaches to the lining of the uterus and pregnancy begins. Also used to describe the fertilization of the egg.
Condom: A sheath of thin rubber, plastic, or animal tissue that is worn on the penis during sexual intercourse. It is an over-the-counter, reversible barrier method of birth control, and it also reduces the risk of getting the most serious sexually transmitted infections.
Congenital syphilis: Syphilis that is transmitted from a woman to her fetus during pregnancy, leading to bone disorders, wasting, loss of sight and/or hearing, deformities, stillbirth, or death of newborn.
Contraception/ contraceptive: Any behavior, device, medication, or procedure used to prevent pregnancy.
Contraceptive creams and jellies: Substances containing spermicide, which block and immobilize sperm and prevent it from joining with the egg. These are over-the-counter, reversible barrier methods of birth control. Used with cervical caps, diaphragms and condoms.
Contraceptive film / c-film: A thin, two-inch square sheet of chemicals that is inserted deep into the vagina, and melts into a thick liquid that blocks the entrance to the uterus with a spermicide. It immobilizes sperm and prevents it from joining with an egg. An over-the-counter, reversible barrier method of birth control. Most effective when used with a condom.
Contraceptive foam: A substance that is inserted deep into the vagina, and blocks the entrance to the uterus with bubbles that contain a spermicide to immobilize sperm, preventing it from joining with an egg. An over-the-counter, reversible barrier method of birth control. Most effective when used with a condom.
Contraceptive suppository: A solid capsule containing spermicide that is inserted deep into the vagina, and melts into a liquid to block and immobilize sperm, preventing it from joining with an egg. An over-the-counter, reversible barrier method of birth control. Most effective when used with a condom.
Copulation: Vaginal intercourse.
Corona: The edge of the glans of the penis.
Corpus cavernosa: Two strips of erectile tissue in the glans, shaft, and crura of the clitoris and along the sides of the penis that extend back into the pelvic floor. During sexual excitement, they fill with blood and become erect.
Corpus luteum: A mass of cells that form on an ovary and produce testosterone following the release of an egg.
Corpus spongiosum: Erectile tissue that forms the glans of the clitoris and penis. In the penis, it runs from the glans along the underside of the shaft, surrounding the urethra.
Cowper’s glands: The glands beneath the prostate gland that are attached to the urethra. They produce a fluid — pre-ejaculate or pre-cum — that prepares the urethra for ejaculation. Pre-ejaculate also reduces friction in the urethra, making it easier for semen to pass through. Also called “bulbourethral glands.”
Cremaster: The muscle that elevates the testicles as temperatures get colder or when the front or inner surface of the thigh is stimulated.
Cremaster reflex: The automatic response of the cremaster muscle, which elevates both testicles when exposed to cold. In response to thigh stimulation, only the testicle next to the stimulated thigh will be elevated.
Crura: Internal extensions of the corpus cavernosa of the clitoris and penis that attach to the pubic bone.
Cum: Slang for “ejaculate.”
Cystitis: An infection of the bladder. Also called “urinary tract infection.”
Cytomegalovirus: See CMV.