The following glossary is adapted from the glossary provided by Planned Parenthood at https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/glossary.
Pap test: A procedure used to examine the cells of the cervix in order to detect abnormal, precancerous, or cancerous growths. It is also called a Pap smear.
Paragard / copper t-380 a: An IUD that contains copper and can be left in place for up to 12 years.
Parous: Having given birth.
Parthenogenesis: The development of an unfertilized egg into an organism. Common in some animals, but is not yet known to occur in humans, although childbearing women have claimed to be virgins. Human eggs can be convinced to start reproducing without being fertilized, but scientists doubt such cells would ever produce a child. If it did, the child would be female due to lack of a Y chromosome. If parthogenesis were possible, it would mean that abstinence has a higher failure rate than is usually attributed to it.
Pearly pink papules / pearly penile papules: Tiny bumps that ring the edge of the head of the penis in 1 out of 3 men. Flesh-colored or a little lighter, they are shaped like smooth little domes. Although they may be sensitive to touch, they are not harmful and are not sexually transmitted. They can be removed with laser treatment.
Pediculosis: An infestation of pubic lice: pediculus pubis. Also known as “crabs.”
Pelvic exam: A physical examination of the vulva, vagina, cervix, uterus, and ovaries — usually includes taking cervical cells for a Pap test and a manual exam of the internal pelvic organs.
Pelvic girdle: The bony and muscular structure inside a woman’s body that supports her internal sex and reproductive organs.
Pelvic inflammatory disease or PID: An infection of a woman’s internal reproductive system that can lead to sterility, ectopic pregnancy, and chronic pain. It is often caused by sexually transmitted infections, such as gonorrhea and chlamydia.
Pelvic tuberculosis: A rare, chronic bacterial infection of a woman’s reproductive organs. Can cause infertility.
Penis: A man’s reproductive and sex organ that is formed of three columns of spongy tissue — two corpora cavernosa and the corpus spongiosum. The spongy tissue fills with blood during sexual excitement, a process known as erection. Urine and seminal fluid pass through the penis.
Perimenopause: The period of change leading to menopause.
Perineum: The area between the anus and the vulva or scrotum.
Period: See Menstruation.
Periodic abstinence: Not having vaginal intercourse during the “unsafe days” of a woman’s fertile phase in order to prevent pregnancy.
Pessary: A device inserted into the vagina to treat a prolapsed uterus. Old types of pessaries were used as barrier birth control methods.
Pheromones: Odors given off by animals, including humans, to attract others sexually.
Phimosis: A condition in which the foreskin of the penis is too tight to be pulled back.
PID: See pelvic inflammatory disease.
Pill, The: A common expression for oral hormonal contraception.
Pituitary gland: Located under the brain, the organ that produces hormones that regulate growth, reproduction, and sexual activity.
Placenta: The organ formed on the wall of the uterus by the developing embryo that provides oxygen and other nourishment from the woman to the fetus and through which waste products are eliminated from the fetus.
Plan B: The brand name for oral hormonal emergency contraception: the “morning after pill.”
PMS or premenstrual syndrome: Emotional and physical symptoms that appear a few days before and during menstruation, including depression, fatigue, feeling bloated, and irritability.
Polycystic ovary syndrome: Various symptoms that result from small benign growths on the ovaries, including lack of menstruation, excessive body hair, and infertility.
Polyps: Small benign growths (tumors) that are common in the uterus and on the cervix or throat.
Post-exposure prophylaxis: Medication provided immediately after possible exposure to a sexually transmitted infection, including HIV, which is intended to prevent infection.
Postpartum: The first few weeks after childbirth.
Postpartum depression: Depression in a woman following childbirth.
Pre-ejaculate or pre-cum: The liquid that oozes out of the penis during sexual excitement before ejaculation; produced by the Cowper’s glands. Does not contain sperm, but may pick up sperm remaining in the urethra from previous ejaculations. Also called “pre-cum.”
Pregnancy: A condition in which a woman carries a developing offspring in her uterus. It begins with the implantation of the pre-embryo and progresses through the embryonic and fetal stages until birth. It lasts about nine months from implantation to birth. If clinically measured from a woman’s last menstrual period, it lasts 10 months.
Premenstrual syndrome: See PMS.
Preputial glands: The organs that secrete a fluid that combines with bacteria and body oils to form smegma. Several are located under the foreskin and clitoral hood. Others are located under the corona of the glans of the penis and on either side of the frenulum. Also called Tyson’s glands.
Priapism: A prolonged and painful erection of the penis without sexual stimulation that is caused by too much blood flow into the corpus cavernosa.
Primary sex characteristics: Body organs and reproductive structures and functions, which differ between women and men. The differences include the external and internal sex and reproductive organs. It also includes a woman’s ability to produce eggs and a man’s ability to produce sperm.
Primary syphilis: The first stage of infection during which an open sore called a chancre develops.
Progesterone: A hormone produced in the ovaries of women that is important in the regulation of puberty, menstruation, and pregnancy.
Progestin: A synthetic progesterone.
Prophylactic: A device or treatment used to prevent infection; the condom.
Prostaglandins: Hormones that are used to induce uterine contractions for childbirth.
Prostate: A gland the size of a golf ball that is located below the bladder in men and produces a fluid that helps sperm move. Very sensitive to the touch — “the male G-spot.”
Prostatitis: An enlargement and inflammation of the prostate gland that results in a dull persistent pain in the lower back, glans of the penis, scrotum, and testes. There may also be a thin mucus discharge from the penis, especially in the morning.
Puberty: The time between childhood and adulthood when girls and boys mature physically and sexually. Puberty is marked by changes such as breast development and menstruation in girls and facial hair growth and ejaculation in boys.
Pubic hair: Hair that grows around the sex organs of women and men. Pubic hair is a secondary sex characteristic that appears during puberty.
Pubic lice: Tiny insects that can be sexually transmitted. They live in pubic hair and cause intense itching in the genitals or anus.