Recommended Health Screenings For Women
Guide To Tests For Women Of All Ages

Health Topics


Health Check Chart

Female Health Screenings

Contents

What Are Health Screenings?
Recommended Health Screenings Chart
What Are The Guidelines Based On?
How Do I Know My Risk Factors For Disease?


What Are Health Screenings?

A health screening is a test carried out on large portions of the population to check for early signs of disease. It is assumed that the majority of those being screened will not have the disease(s) in question. Those that do, should have a better chance of cure if the disease is detected early. Screenings tend to be less invasive than diagnostic tests - that is tests which are used when it is suspected that the person has a disease. For example, a mammogram is used for screening women for signs of breast cancer. But a breast biopsy (removing a tissue sample for checking under a microscope) is a diagnostic test. It is only performed if the mammogram highlights suspicious cell growth. Exactly which screenings are recommended to women can be controversial - it is not as straight forward as it may initially seem. For example, although breast cancer screening is undoubtedly effective in detecting early signs of the disease, it has also caused huge amounts of stress in women who are suspected of having cancer but turn out to have benign breast cysts (which would have been harmlessly undetected before screening was introduced). In this article we will discuss which screenings a woman should have at different stages in her life. These screenings, despite any controversy, are important to have. The timings are guidelines only. Your doctor or nurse will personalize the timing of your screen tests based on your individual risk factors.

Recommended Health Screenings For Women

Screening Ages 18 to 39 40 to 49 50 to 64 65 and over
Mammogram for
breast cancer
Not necessary. If you have high risks for breast cancer, talk to your doctor about screening. Start at the age of 50, every 2 years thereafter. Every 2 years until age 74. Talk to your doctor after this.
Breast Self-Examination Once a month after 20. Once a month. Once a month. Once a month.
Pap Test for
cervical cancer
Start at 21 and every 2 years after. Or from the onset of sexual activity, whichever is first. Every 3 years. If your cervix is removed by hysterectomy, screening is not necessary. Every 3 years. If your cervix is removed by hysterectomy, screening is not necessary. Ask your doctor if you still need it.
Blood Pressure Test for hypertension. Test at least every 2 years if you have normal blood pressure (BP). That is lower than 120/80.

Test once a year if you have raised BP between 120/80 and 139/89.

Talk to your doctor about blood pressure treatment if you have high BP of 140/90 or above.
Test at least every 2 years if you have normal blood pressure (BP). That is lower than 120/80.

Test once a year if you have raised BP between 120/80 and 139/89.

Talk to your doctor about blood pressure treatment if you have high BP of 140/90 or above.
Test at least every 2 years if you have normal blood pressure (BP). That is lower than 120/80.

Test once a year if you have raised BP between 120/80 and 139/89.

Talk to your doctor about blood pressure treatment if you have high BP of 140/90 or above.
Test at least every 2 years if you have normal blood pressure (BP). That is lower than 120/80.

Test once a year if you have raised BP between 120/80 and 139/89.

Talk to your doctor about blood pressure treatment if you have high BP of 140/90 or above.
Cholesterol Level Blood Test for
heart disease
Start at 20 and continue regularly if you are at risk of high cholesterol. Talk to your doctor about how often to screen. Get tested regularly if you are at risk of high cholesterol. Talk to your doctor about how often to screen. Get tested regularly if you are at risk of high cholesterol. Talk to your doctor about how often to screen. Get tested regularly if you are at risk of high cholesterol. Talk to your doctor about how often to screen.
Prediabetes Blood Test for early signs of diabetes. Screen for prediabetes every 3 years - or more frequently if you have high blood pressure (higher than 135/80). If you test positive, screen once a year to test for full-blown diabetes. Screen for prediabetes every 3 years or more frequently if you have high blood pressure (higher than 135/80). If you test positive, screen once a year for signs of full-blown diabetes. Screen for prediabetes every 3 years - or more frequently if you have high blood pressure (higher than 135/80). If you test positive, screen once a year to test for full-blown diabetes. Screen for prediabetes every 3 years - or more frequently if you have high blood pressure (higher than 135/80). If you test positive, screen once a year to test for full-blown diabetes.
Bone Density Test for
osteoporosis
Not necessary. Not necessary. Women with osteoporosis risk factors should test every 2 years. If significant bone loss is apparent, you may need to test annually. All women at this age should test every 2 years. If significant bone loss is apparent, you may need to test annually.
Exercise Stress Test for coronary heart disease (CHD) Not necessary. Not necessary, unless you have risk factors for CHD such as longterm high cholesterol, raised blood pressure or diabetes. Every 2 years, or once a year if you have risk factors for CHD. Consider also having vascular screening. Once a year.
Colon Cancer Screening (with fecal occult blood tests, colonoscopy, or sigmoidoscopy) Not necessary. Not necessary. Start screening at 50 and talk to your doctor about how often and which test is most suitable for you. Continue screening until 75. Useful for detecting abdominal problems like colon polyps or colon cancer.
Chlamydia Test Annual tests when you become sexually active until the age of 24. After this, screen if you change sexual partners or have multiple partners. All pregnant women should be screened. Continue regular screening if you have chlamydia risk factors (a new sexual partner or multiple partners). All pregnant women should be screened. Continue regular screening if you have chlamydia risk factors (a new sexual partner or multiple partners). Continue regular screening if you have chlamydia risk factors (a new sexual partner or multiple partners).
Gonorrhea Test If you are sexually active, get tested for gonorrhea, particularly if you change sexual partners or have multiple partners. If you are sexually active, get tested for gonorrhea, particularly if you change sexual partners or have multiple partners. If you are sexually active, get tested for gonorrhea, particularly if you change sexual partners or have multiple partners. If you are sexually active, get tested for gonorrhea, particularly if you change sexual partners or have multiple partners.
Syphilis Test Get tested if you change partners. Test regularly if you have multiple partners. All pregnant women should be tested. Get tested if you change partners. Test regularly if you have multiple partners. All pregnant women should be tested. Get tested if you change partners. Test regularly if you have multiple partners. Get tested if you change partners. Test regularly if you have multiple partners.
HIV Virus Test Get tested if you have unprotected sex with one or more partners. All pregnant women should be tested. Get tested if you have unprotected sex with one or more partners. All pregnant women should be tested. Test if you had a blood transfusion between 1978 and 1985. Get tested if you have unprotected sex with one or more partners. Test if you had a blood transfusion between 1978 and 1985. Get tested if you have unprotected sex with one or more partners. Test if you had a blood transfusion between 1978 and 1985.

Other Tests

These are not on the 'recommended' list, but if you have certain risk factors you may consider them:
Menopause testing - home tests can provide some information but they are not diagnostic.
Heart disease tests - comprehensive list of all the tests available.
Fertility testing - if you are worried about infertility.
Pregnancy tests - explanation of the different types and how they work.
Blood test - a complete bloodworks can check for problems in the body.
Genetic testing - for health conditions in adults and babies.

Vaccines

Vaccinations for women: Recommendation by age group.

What Are The Guidelines Based On?

The guidelines we use here are based on those recommended by the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF). This task force consists on a group of experts made up of nurses, family doctors, obgyn's and internists who advocate disease prevention (stopping disease before it starts). It also based on advice from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the Centers For Disease Prevention and Control (CDC).

How Do I Know My Risk Factors For Disease?

Many of the recommended screenings are based on identifying your personal risk factors for the disease in question. To discover your risk level, it is best to talk through things with your family doctor or nurse. Come armed to your appointment with information on your family's medical history (including that of your parents, brothers, sisters, grandparents, aunts and uncles). Note:

• Any major health conditions in the family, such as high blood pressure, stroke, cancer or diabetes.
• The age any family members have died, and the cause.

Be prepared to discuss other health factors such as how much you drink or smoke, your weight and dietary habits. To determine your risk for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) you will need to tell your doctor how many partners you have had, whether or not you used condoms and how frequently you change partners. Be honest, it may feel awkward, but it is important for your determining which tests to perform. Based on all of this information, your doctor should be able to recommend timings for your screenings - that is, how soon and how often you need to test for certain diseases. He may also offer advice on how to reduce your risk factors by making lifestyle changes. For example, it is estimated that nearly 35 percent of Americans could avoid early death by changing 3 behaviors:

1. Quitting smoking.
2. Eating a healthy diet based on fresh fruit, vegetables and small portions of red meat.
3. Taking more physical activity.

See also: how women die, main causes of death.

While At The Doctors...

Take the opportunity to discuss any other health problems or changes you may have noticed (see reasons for seeing a doctor). Most people are reluctant to report non-urgent issues because they don't feel they warrant medical attention. Use this as a chance to literally get everything 'off your chest', it may be nothing, but it's always worth mentioning. If nothing else, just for peace of mind. Things worth reporting for example include:

• Has your appetite changed?
• Are you experiencing pain, fatigue, dizziness, changes in bowel movement or menstrual cycle?
• Are you feeling depressed, anxious or having difficulties sleeping?

If so, note when the changes started and if they have worsened over time.

Back To Homepage: Womens Health Advice

Other Useful Guides

Female Body: Visual guide to the body, explanation of the organs and what can go wrong with them.
Medical Tests: Diagnostic tests including pelvic exam, D&C and MRI scans.
Head And Face Disorders: From headaches to depression, skin and eye conditions.
Reproductive System Disorders: List of problems from vaginal discharge to signs of gynecologic cancers.
Hospital Departments Explained: What each department treats, by which type of doctor.
Development Of The Female Body: Life stages and physical changes.
Bones Of The Body: How many bones do you have?
Back Problems: Symptoms of upper and lower back pain and neck problems.
Bones and Joint Problems: Symptom checker for hands, feet, arms and leg pain.
Latest Health Statistics: See how long you are likely to live based on average estimates.


original content

WOMENS HEALTH ADVICE: ABOUT VAGINITIS
Sources
Please Note: Information provided on this site is no substitute for professional medical help. See Disclaimer.
Copyright. All rights reserved.