Screening Tests for Women: What You Need and When

Talk to your doctor about which ones apply to you and when and how often you should be tested. If you have a family history of these conditions, talk to your doctor to see if you should be screened earlier than recommended.

Obesity: 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.

Breast Cancer: Have a mammogram every 1 to 2 years starting at age 40. 

Cervical Cancer: Have a Pap smear every 1 to 3 years if you:

  • Have ever been sexually active; or
  • Are between the ages of 21 and 65.

High Cholesterol: Have your cholesterol checked regularly starting at age 45. If you are younger than 45, talk to your doctor about whether to have your cholesterol checked if:

  • You have diabetes or high blood pressure;
  • Heart disease runs in your family; or
  • You smoke.

High Blood Pressure: Have your blood pressure checked at least every two years. High blood pressure is 140/90 or higher.

Colorectal Cancer: Have a colonoscopy starting at age 50 and at least every five to 10 years, depending on your risk factors.. 
Diabetes: Have a test for diabetes if you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
Depression: Your emotional health is as important as your physical health. If you have felt “down,” sad or hopeless over the last two 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 65 to screen for osteoporosis. If you are between the ages of 60 and 64 and weigh 154 lbs. or less, talk to your doctor about being tested.
Chlamydia and Other Sexually Transmitted Infections: Have a test 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.
Immunizations: Stay up to date with your immunizations.
  • Have a flu shot every year starting at age 50. If you are younger than 50, ask your doctor whether you need a flu shot.
  • Have a pneumonia shot once after you turn 65. If you are younger, ask your doctor whether you need a pneumonia shot.
  • Have a tetanus/diphtheria booster every 10 years.
  • A shingles vaccine is recommended for use in people 60 years and older. This is a one-time vaccination.
  • A vaccination for cervical cancer is recommended for young women, ages 11-26. This vaccination is given three times over six months.