Screening Tests That Help Keep Women Healthy
Find out which tests your doctor may give you.

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Screening Tests That Help Keep Women Healthy

Certain screenings are recommended for everyone as a way to stay healthy. As a woman, there may be a few differences for you in the type of health screenings you may have. Check with your insurance carrier for recommendations and benefit coverage.

Important screenings are outlined by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF). This is the nation's leading source of guidelines for preventive health care services. In addition to the USPSTF, other national professional health organizations make recommendations on health screenings. Their recommendations may be used by your doctor to determine what is best for you.

The following are some of the health screenings that are recommended by the USPSTF. This list is not the complete list of USPSTF screening recommendations. It is important to know that some of these recommendations are for those women who have a normal risk for each condition and who do not have symptoms. Some recommendations depend on your age and risk factors for certain diseases.

For some women who may be at an increased risk for developing certain conditions, the recommended starting age, frequency and type of screening tests may differ. There are also specific recommendations for pregnant women. Ask your doctor about what's best for you.

Blood pressure
Normal blood pressure is less than 120/80. The USPSTF recommends blood pressure screening for all adults, but does not recommend how often blood pressure checks should occur. Other agencies recommend checks at least once every two years if your blood pressure is normal and checks at least every year if it is consistently higher. Ask your doctor what is right for you.

Breast cancer
The USPSTF recommends that women start having mammograms at age 50 and repeat them every two years until age 74. It is important that you ask your doctor what breast cancer-screening schedule is right for you. This will be based on your family history, risk factors and general health. It will also be based on your personal values.

Cervical cancer
The USPSTF recommends that women be screened for cervical cancer with a Pap smear test every three years starting at age 21 through age 65. Between the ages of 30 and 65, you can be screened less often (every five years) if you have a human papillomavirus (HPV) test and a Pap. Routine pap smear screening isn't recommended for women who have had a total hysterectomy for benign disease.

Colon cancer
Starting at age 50 and continuing until age 75, the USPSTF recommends screening for colon cancer. There are several different tests for colon cancer, with different test schedules. Talk with your doctor about these tests. He or she can tell you which tests you should have and how often you should be tested.

The USPSTF recommends that adults who have no symptoms be tested for type 2 diabetes if their blood pressure is consistently 135/80 or higher, with or without medications.

High cholesterol or lipid disorder
Women 45 years and older who are at risk for heart disease are strongly recommended by the USPSTF to be screened for high cholesterol, also called lipid disorder. The USPSTF recommends that younger women, ages 20 to 45 be screened for lipid disorder if they are at risk for heart disease. There is no recommendation for or against screening for women who are not at increased risk for heart disease.

Infectious Diseases
Discuss your risk of infectious diseases with your doctor. He or she can help you decide what kind of testing you need.

  • Hepatitis C. The USPSTF recommends screening for the hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection in people with a high risk. It is also recommended that a one-time screening be offered for adults born between 1945 and 1965.
  • HIV. The USPSTF recommends HIV screening for all adults through age 65, and those over 65 who are at an increased risk.

Other Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

  • Chlamydia: The USPSTF recommends screening all sexually active women age 24 and younger and all sexually active women over age 24 who are at increased risk for infection.
  • Gonorrhea: The USPSTF recommends screening all women sexually active who are at increased risk for infection.
  • Syphilis: The USPSTF recommends screening women who are at increased risk.

The USPSTF recommends screening all adults for obesity. Being overweight or obese puts you at risk for many health problems. Your doctor may use your body mass index (BMI) to find your weight status.

The USPSTF recommends bone mineral density testing for women who are age 65 or older and younger women at risk of fractures. Your doctor can assess your risk and tell you when you should get tested.

Your doctor may screen you for depression. The USPSTF recommends this screening for all adults, depending on the level of depression care available at your doctor's office.

Alcohol misuse
Your doctor may screen you for alcohol misuse. The USPSTF recommends this screening for all adults.

The USPSTF recommends that doctors ask all adults if they use tobacco, and if necessary, to offer them interventions for quitting. The USPSTF also recommends that doctors ask all pregnant women if they use tobacco, and if necessary, to offer them pregnancy-specific counseling.

Partner violence
The USPSTF recommends that doctors screen women of child-bearing age for partner violence, such as domestic violence. The USPSTF further recommends that if necessary, doctors should refer women to intervention services.

Screening tests help your doctor find some health problems early when treatment often works best. Ask your doctor about which tests you need.

By Mary Small, Contributing Writer
Created on 08/01/2008
Updated on 03/06/2014
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sexually transmitted diseases.
  • American Diabetes Association. Diabetes Care. Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes 2013. Criteria for testing for diabetes in asymptomatic adult individuals.
  • Get Screened.
  • U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Recommendations.
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