Which Health Check-ups Should Women Get?

Maureen Robb's picture
By Maureen Robb on March 27, 2017

You eat right and exercise, and you feel fine. Do you really need to see your doctor for regular checkups?

One of the best ways to make sure you stay well is to take advantage of preventive care and screenings.

So, which tests should you get? Here are the screenings recommended for women:

  • Blood pressure: 18 to 40 – Have your blood pressure checked every three to five years if normal and annually after age 40.
  • Cervical cancer: 21 and older – Get a Pap test every three to five years.
  • Gonorrhea and chlamydia: If you are 24 or younger and sexually active, get tested annually for these sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Breast cancer: 40 and older – Get screened every one to two years. Discuss your breast cancer risk with your doctor to see how often you need a mammogram.
  • Cholesterol and diabetes: 45 and older – Get a baseline screening. Based on your risk factors, discuss how often you should get tested with your doctor. 
  • Colorectal cancer: 50 and older – Ask which test is best for you and how often you need it.
  • Thyroid: 65 and older – Get screened every five years. Women are more apt to have thyroid problems than men.
  • Bone mineral density: 65 and older – Have this test at least once. Discuss your risk of osteoporosis with your doctor to see if you need further screening.

“Your particular risk factors will definitely affect how often you should get certain tests,” said Kelley Morel, M.D., with Carilion Clinic Obstetrics & Gynecology.

When it comes to the Pap test for cervical cancer, Dr. Morel recommended having one every three years until age 30.

“Then you can have one every five years, co-testing for the sexually transmitted HPV virus," she explained.

Dr. Morel also recommended that women get the Gardasil vaccine between the ages of 9 and 26 because it protects against nine strains of the HPV virus, some of which can cause cervical cancers.

“In general, even if you think you’re healthy, you should get regular checkups to screen for potential issues,” Dr. Morel noted. “Some conditions, like cervical cancer, can progress without symptoms.”

Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions. That’s what doctors are for. Sometimes, just talking to your doctor can help you avoid or minimize illness. It’s all about optimizing your health.