3.1  Some common terms in anatomy and physiology

In learning anatomy and physiology for the first time, you will be exposed to a large number of new terminologies. Some of these may be familiar to you from your previous biology course at high school. In this study session, we have tried to use simple terms as much as possible to help you understand the study material. Defining most of the terms used in anatomy and physiology is beyond this study session, but defining the most important terms used in obstetric care will help you achieve the learning outcomes of this study session and Study Sessions 4 to 6.

The terminologies used in human anatomy often include a directional term, i.e. a term that indicates the position of one anatomical structure in relation to another one, or in relation to the body as a whole (see Box 3.1). You will encounter directional terms many times in this Module.

Box 3.1  Some common directional terms used in anatomy

Superior:  above

Inferior:   below

Medial:    towards the midline of the body

Lateral:    away from the midline (sides, edges)

Anterior:   in front of

Posterior:  behind, at the back of

Learning Outcomes for Study Session 3

3.2  Anatomy and physiology of the female reproductive organs