Healthy Horizons

Women's Health

Promoting healthy lifestyle habits involves more than eating healthy and regular exercise. In addition to a balanced diet and exercise, part of promoting healthy living is routine screenings for common health problems, many of which are preventable. Regular check-ups and age-appropriate screenings can improve health status and reduce chances of developing certain health conditions. The following information lists general recommended screenings for women according to their age group, which are derived from clinical guidelines. These should be reviewed and discussed with your physician to determine which types of screenings are appropriate for you and how often they should be done. Click for recommendations from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Women's Health.

WOMEN AGES 20-39 ~ View Section Statements

General Health

  • Physical Exam every year or as recommended by your primary care physician.
  • Thyroid function test every 5 years (beginning at age 35).

Cardiovascular Health

  • Blood pressure every year.
  • Complete cholesterol panel every 1-5 years depending on individual results - If taking medication for high cholesterol, levels will be checked more frequently.

Reproductive System Health

  • PAP test and Pelvic exam every year or as recommended by your physician.
  • Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) testing: Both partners should be tested before starting a sexual relationship; sexually active adults should be screened for Syphilis, Chlamydia, and Gonorrhea.

Breast Health

  • Self-breast exams monthly - examine for abnormal changes in lumps at early stages.
  • Clinical breast exam yearly by physician.

Skin Health

  • Self-skin exams monthly - look for development of or changes in moles and freckles.
  • Physician skin exam every 3 years.
  • Use sunscreen that provides UVA and UVB protection with SPF of at least 30.

Bone Health/Osteoporosis Prevention

  • Achieve calcium intake of 1,000-1,200 milligrams per day.
  • Achieve vitamin D intake of 400-800 International Units per day.
  • Aerobic, weight-bearing exercise most days of the week. Examples of weight-bearing exercise include jogging, walking and stair-climbing. Exercises such as swimming and bicycling are not considered weight-bearing.

Vaccines

  • Influenza (flu) vaccine every year, unless allergic to eggs or history of a severe reaction to the flu vaccine.
  • Tetanus - Diphtheria booster vaccine every 10 years.
  • Meningococcal vaccine for college freshman planning on living in dormitories.
  • Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine for women aged 26 and younger.

Dental Health

  • Dental exams every 6 months.
  • Oral self-exams monthly - examine gums, tongue and insides of cheeks for spots.

Ear and Eye Health

  • Vision exam - based on results, physician will decide need for follow-up exam.
  • Hearing exam every 10 years (starting at age 18)

WOMEN AGES 40-49 ~ View Section Statements

General Health

  • Physical Exam every year or as recommended by your primary care physician.
  • Thyroid function test every 5 years.

Cardiovascular Health

  • Blood pressure every year.
  • Complete cholesterol panel every 1-5 years depending on individual results - If taking medication for high cholesterol, levels will be checked more frequently.

Diabetes Screening

  • Beginning at age 45 (in the absence of risk factors - your physician can help you determine your risk for developing diabetes). You should have the screening every 3 years or every year if risk factors are present. Click here (http://www.diabetes.org/risk-test.jsp) to assess your risk for developing diabetes.

Reproductive System Health

  • PAP test and Pelvic exam every year or as recommended by your physician.
  • Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) testing: Both partners should be tested before starting sexual relationship; sexually active adults should be screened for Syphilis, Chlamydia, and Gonorrhea.
  • Women beginning to experience menopausal symptoms should consider screening for reproductive hormones (follicle stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone) to determine need for supplemental estrogen or other menopause management options. Your physician can help you determine when to be screened.

Breast Health

  • Self-breast exams monthly - examine for abnormal changes in lumps at early stages.
  • Clinical breast exam yearly by physician
  • Mammogram every 1-2 years

Skin Health

  • Self-skin exams monthly - look for development of or changes in moles and freckles.
  • Physician skin exam every year
  • Use sunscreen that provides UVA and UVB protection with SPF of at least 30.

Bone Health/Osteoporosis Prevention

  • Achieve calcium intake of 1,000-1,200 milligrams per day.
  • Achieve vitamin D intake of at least 400-800 International Units per day
  • Aerobic, weight-bearing exercise most days of the week. Examples of weight-bearing exercise include jogging, walking and stair-climbing, while swimming and bicycling are not considered weight-bearing.

Vaccines

  • Influenza (flu) vaccine every year, unless allergic to eggs or history of a severe reaction to the flu vaccine.
  • Tetanus - Diphtheria booster vaccine every 10 years.

Dental Health

  • Dental exams every 6 months.
  • Oral exams monthly - examine gums, tongue and insides of cheeks for spots.

Ear and Eye Health

  • Vision exam every 2-4 years.
  • Hearing exam every 10 years.

WOMEN AGE 50+ ~ View Section Statements

General Health

  • Physical Exam every year or as recommended by your primary care physician
  • Thyroid function test every 5 years

Cardiovascular Health

  • Blood pressure every year
  • Complete cholesterol panel every 1-5 years depending on individual results - If taking medication for high cholesterol, levels will be checked more frequently.

Diabetes Screening

  • Every 3 years or every year if risk factors are present - your physician can help you determine your risk for developing diabetes. Assess your risk for developing diabetes.

Reproductive System Health

  • PAP test and Pelvic exam every year or as recommended by your physician
  • Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) testing: Both partners should be tested before starting a sexual relationship; sexually active adults should be screened for Syphilis, Chlamydia, and Gonorrhea.
  • Women beginning to experience menopausal symptoms should consider screening for reproductive hormones (follicle stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone) to determine need for supplemental estrogen or other menopause management options. Your physician can help you determine when to be screened.

Breast Health

  • Self-breast exams monthly - examine for abnormal changes in lumps at early stages.
  • Clinical breast exam yearly by physician
  • Mammogram every year

Colorectal Health

  • Hemoccult stool test yearly - Screens the stool for small amounts of blood (too small to be seen) that could be the first signs of polyps or colon cancer
  • Colonoscopy every 10 years

Skin Health

  • Self-skin exams monthly - look for development of or changes in moles and freckles
  • Physician skin exam every year
  • Use sunscreen that provides UVA and UVB protection with SPF of at least 30

Bone Health/Osteoporosis Prevention

  • Achieve calcium intake of 1,200-1,500 milligrams per day.
  • Achieve vitamin D intake of at least 400-800 International Units per day.
  • Aerobic, weight-bearing exercise most days of the week. Examples of weight-bearing exercise include jogging, walking and stair-climbing, while swimming and bicycling are not considered weight-bearing.
  • Bone mineral density (BMD) testing, commonly called a DEXA, at least once beginning at age 65 (unless risk factors are present). Your physician can help you determine if you should be tested earlier.

Vaccines

  • Influenza (flu) vaccine every year, unless allergic to eggs or history of a severe reaction to the flu vaccine
  • Tetanus - Diphtheria booster vaccine every 10 years
  • Pneumonia vaccine one time beginning at age 65
  • Herpes Zoster vaccine (to prevent Shingles) one time beginning at age 60

Dental Health

  • Dental exams every 6 months.
  • Oral exams monthly - examine gums, tongue and insides of cheeks for spots.

Ear and Eye Health

  • Vision exam every 2-4 years
  • Hearing exam every 10 years

REFERENCES ~ View Section Statements

American Diabetes Association. Standards of medical care in diabetes - 2008. Diabetes Care. 2008;31:S12-54.

National Osteoporosis Foundation. Physician's Guide to Prevention and Treatment of Osteoporosis. Accessed March 7, 2008.

Executive summary of the third report of the national cholesterol education program (NCEP) expert panel on detection, evaluation, and treatment of high blood cholesterol in adults (adult treatment panel III). JAMA. 2001;285:2486-2497.

Chobanian AV, Bakris GL, Black HR, Cushman WC, Green LA, Izzo JL, Jones DW, et al. Seventh report of the Joint National Committee on prevention, detection, evaluation, and treatment of high blood pressure. Hypertension. 2003;42:1206-1252.