What You Need and When

Screening tests can find diseases early when they are easier to treat. Health experts from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force have made recommendations, based on scientific evidence, about testing for the conditions below. The following screening recommendations are for women with low risk factors. Talk to your provider about which ones apply to you and when and how often you should be tested. Other tests may be recommended by your provider based on your personal or family’s medical history.


Have your body mass index (BMI) calculated to screen for obesity. (BMI is a measure of body fat based on height and weight.) You can also find your own BMI with the BMI calculator from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbisupport.com/bmi/.

Abdominal Circumference

This is a measurement around the waist. A circumference of more than 35 inches in women is associated with a very high risk for heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. A normal (or ideal) circumference is less than 35 inches.

Breast Cancer
  • Have a mammogram every 1 to 2 years starting at age 40, and every year at age 50 +
  • Breast Exam: Starting in 20’s at least every 3 years. By age 40, yearly.
Cervical Cancer

Have a Pap smear:

  • Have a Pap Smear by age 21, or within 3 years of having sex for the first time, whichever occurs first. Until 30, do Pap smears yearly. Do every 1-3 years at age 30+.
  • Pelvic Exam: Yearly at 20 and older.
Ovarian Cancer

There are currently no reliable, effective routine screening tests. If you have a family history, frequent pain in the abdomen or frequent bloating, or other concerns, talk with your provider.

High Cholesterol

Have your cholesterol checked every 5 years starting at age 20.

High Blood Pressure

Have your blood pressure checked at least every 2 years. High blood pressure is 140/90 or higher, borderline is 130/80.

Colorectal Cancer

Have a test for colorectal cancer starting at age 50. Your doctor can help you decide which test is right for you. If you have a family history of colorectal cancer, you may need to be screened earlier.

Skin Cancer
  • Monthly self exam.
  • At age 20-39, every 3 years.
  • At age 40 +, every year.

Have a test at age 45 years, and every 3 years thereafter.


Start at age 45, and every 5 years thereafter.


Your emotional health is as important as your physical health. If you have felt "down," sad, or hopeless over the last 2 weeks or have felt little interest or pleasure in doing things, you may be depressed. Talk to your doctor about being screened for depression.

Osteoporosis (Thinning of the Bones)

Have a bone density test beginning at age 55 to screen for osteoporosis. If you are post-menopausal but younger than 65, talk to your provider about when to test.

  • Start at age18, then every 10 years.
  • At age 50+ every 3 years.
  • At age 20-29, at least once.
  • At age 30-39, at least twice.
  • At age 40-65, every 2-4 years.
  • At age 65+, every 1-2 years.
Chlamydia and Other Sexually Transmitted Infections

Have a test yearly for chlamydia if you are 25 or younger and sexually active. If you are older, talk to your doctor about being tested. Also ask whether you should be tested for other sexually transmitted diseases. Both partners should be tested before first having sex together.


Have a test to screen for HIV infection if you: (Ask your provider when to repeat)

  • Have had unprotected sex with multiple partners, or have a partner who has had sex with multiple partners. Are pregnant.
  • Have used or now use injection drugs
  • Exchange sex for money or drugs, or have a sex partner who does.
  • Have past or present sex partners who are HIV-infected, are bisexual, or use injection drugs.
  • Are being treated for sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Had a blood transfusion between 1978 and 1985.
Vitamin D

We do not yet have a clear recommendation for who to screen and how often.

Steps to Health and Aging Well

Don't Smoke

If you do smoke, talk to your doctor about quitting. If you are pregnant and smoke, quitting now will help you and your baby. Your doctor or nurse can help you. And, you can also help yourself. For tips on how to quit, go to: You Can Quit Smoking Now. http://www.smokefree.gov. To talk to someone about how to quit, call the National Quitline: 1-800-QUITNOW

Be Physically Active

Walking briskly, mowing the lawn, dancing, swimming, and bicycling are just a few examples of moderate physical activity. If you are not already physically active, start small and work up to 30 minutes or more of moderate physical activity most days of the week.

Eat a Healthy Diet

Emphasize fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products; include lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts; and eat foods low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium), and added sugars.

Stay at a Healthy Weight

Balance calories from foods and beverages with calories you burn off by your activities. To prevent gradual weight gain over time, make small decreases in food and beverage calories and increase physical activity.

Drink Alcohol Only in Moderation

If you drink alcohol, have no more than one drink a day. (A standard drink is one 12-ounce bottle of beer or wine cooler, one 5-ounce glass of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits.) If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, avoid alcohol.

Take Your Medications as Prescribed. Lead a Purposeful Life

Having meaning in your life, a sense of contribution and service to others leads to a happy and fulfilling life. People who feel they are making a difference tend to be healthier than those who have no direction and are unsatisfied.

Keep Your Mind Active

Read, engage in conversation, socialize, do crossword puzzles, take a class. All of these things improve memory and improve health.

Keep Up-To-Date on Your Vaccines
  • Gardasil (Cervical Cancer) <25 years old
  • Influenza Age 50+ years, or if you have risk factors
  • Shingles Age 60 +
  • Pneumovax Once at age 65, or ask your provider if you are younger
  • Varicella (chickenpox) If you never had chickenpox
  • Tetanus – diptheria booster Every 10 years