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Screening tests for women

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Check the guidelines listed here to find out about important screening tests for women. These guidelines are recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Keep in mind that these are guidelines only. Your doctor or nurse will personalize the timing of the screening tests you need based on many factors. Ask your doctor or nurse if you don’t understand why a certain test is recommended for you. Check with your insurance plan to find out which tests are covered. Insurance companies are required to cover many preventive services for women at not cost to you because of the Affordable Care Act.

Where do these guidelines come from?

The screening guidelines listed here are recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF). The USPSTF is a group of non-Federal experts in prevention (stopping disease before it starts). USPSTF recommendations are evidence-based. This means that science supports USPSTF screening guidelines. The USPSTF is made up of primary care providers (such as internists, pediatricians, family physicians, gynecologists/obstetricians, nurses, and health behavior specialists).

Get regular checkups

Your doctor or nurse can help you stay healthy. Ask your doctor or nurse how often you need to be seen for a routine checkup. Use this time to bring up any health concerns or questions you have. Make sure to ask about:

Screening tests

Screening testsAges 18–39Ages 40–49Ages 50–64Ages 65 and older
Blood pressure testGet tested at least every 2 years if you have normal blood pressure (lower than 120/80).

Get tested once a year if you have blood pressure between 120/80 and 139/89.

Discuss treatment with your doctor or nurse if you have blood pressure 140/90 or higher.
Get tested at least every 2 years if you have normal blood pressure (lower than 120/80).

Get tested once a year if you have blood pressure between 120/80 and 139/89.

Discuss treatment with your doctor or nurse if you have blood pressure 140/90 or higher.
Get tested at least every 2 years if you have normal blood pressure (lower than 120/80).

Get tested once a year if you have blood pressure between 120/80 and 139/89.

Discuss treatment with your doctor or nurse if you have blood pressure 140/90 or higher.
Get tested at least every 2 years if you have normal blood pressure (lower than 120/80).

Get tested once a year if you have blood pressure between 120/80 and 139/89.

Discuss treatment with your doctor or nurse if you have blood pressure 140/90 or higher.
Bone mineral density test
(osteoporosis screening)
  Discuss with your doctor or nurse if you are at risk of osteoporosis.Get this test at least once at age 65 or older.

Talk to your doctor or nurse about repeat testing.
Breast cancer screening
(mammogram)
 Discuss with your doctor or nurse.Starting at age 50, get screened every 2 years.Get screened every 2 years through age 74.

Age 75 and older, ask your doctor or nurse if you need to be screened.
Cervical cancer screening
(Pap test)
Get a Pap test every 3 years if you are 21 or older and have a cervix.

If you are 30 or older, you can get a Pap test and HPV test together every 5 years.
Get a Pap test and HPV test together every 5 years if you have a cervix.Get a Pap test and HPV test together every 5 years if you have a cervix.Ask your doctor or nurse if you need to get a Pap test.
Chlamydia testGet tested for chlamydia yearly through age 24 if you are sexually active or pregnant.

Age 25 and older, get tested for chlamydia if you are at increased risk, pregnant or not pregnant.
Get tested for chlamydia if you are sexually active and at increased risk, pregnant or not pregnant.Get tested for chlamydia if you are sexually active and at increased risk.Get tested for chlamydia if you are sexually active and at increased risk.
Cholesterol testStarting at age 20, get a cholesterol test regularly if you are at increased risk for heart disease.

Ask your doctor or nurse how often you need your cholesterol tested.
Get a cholesterol test regularly if you are at increased risk for heart disease.

Ask your doctor or nurse how often you need your cholesterol tested.
Get a cholesterol test regularly if you are at increased risk for heart disease.

Ask your doctor or nurse how often you need your cholesterol tested.
Get a cholesterol test regularly if you are at increased risk for heart disease.

Ask your doctor or nurse how often you need your cholesterol tested.
Colorectal cancer screening
(using fecal occult blood testing, sigmoidoscopy, or colonoscopy)
  Starting at age 50, get screened for colorectal cancer.

Talk to your doctor or nurse about which screening test is best for you and how often you need it.
Get screened for colorectal cancer through age 75.

Talk to your doctor or nurse about which screening test is best for you and how often you need it.
Diabetes screeningGet screened for diabetes if your blood pressure is higher than 135/80 or if you take medicine for high blood pressure.Get screened for diabetes if your blood pressure is higher than 135/80 or if you take medicine for high blood pressure.Get screened for diabetes if your blood pressure is higher than 135/80 or if you take medicine for high blood pressure.Get screened for diabetes if your blood pressure is higher than 135/80 or if you take medicine for high blood pressure.
Gonorrhea testGet tested for gonorrhea if you are sexually active and at increased risk, pregnant or not pregnant.Get tested for gonorrhea if you are sexually active and at increased risk, pregnant or not pregnant.Get tested for gonorrhea if you are sexually active and at increased risk.Get tested for gonorrhea if you are sexually active and at increased risk.
HIV testGet tested for HIV at least once.

Discuss your risk with your doctor or nurse because you may need more frequent tests.

All pregnant women need to be tested for HIV.
Get tested for HIV at least once.

Discuss your risk with your doctor or nurse because you may need more frequent tests.

All pregnant women need to be tested for HIV.
Get tested for HIV at least once.

Discuss your risk with your doctor or nurse because you may need more frequent tests.

Get tested for HIV at least once if you are age 65 and have never been tested.

Get tested if you are at increased risk for HIV.

Discuss your risk with your doctor or nurse.

Syphilis testGet tested for syphilis if you are at increased risk or pregnant.Get tested for syphilis if you are at increased risk or pregnant.Get tested for syphilis if you are at increased risk.Get tested for syphilis if you are at increased risk.

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More information on Screening tests for women

Read more from womenshealth.gov

  • Chlamydia Fact Sheet - This fact sheet provides information on chlamydia infection, including its symptoms, how it is spread, how it is treated, and how to avoid contracting chlamydia.
    /publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/chlamydia.cfm
  • Diabetes Fact Sheet - This fact sheet discusses the risk factors for and signs, symptoms, and treatments of diabetes in women.
    /publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/diabetes.cfm
  • Get Tested for HIV - All people should know their HIV status. This Web page from womenshealth.gov talks about how to get tested for HIV, types of HIV tests, and confidential versus anonymous testing.
    /hiv-aids/get-tested-for-hiv/
  • Gonorrhea Fact Sheet - This fact sheet provides information on gonorrhea, symptoms, treatment options, and how to avoid getting this infection.
    /publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/gonorrhea.cfm
  • Mammograms Fact Sheet - This fact sheet discusses the different types of mammograms available, explains how often a woman should get them, and gives facts about their safety and effectiveness.
    /publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/mammograms.cfm
  • Osteoporosis Fact Sheet - This osteoporosis fact sheet provides information on risk factors, prevention tips, and treatment options. It also includes information on osteoporosis in men and pregnant or breastfeeding women.
    /publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/osteoporosis.cfm
  • Overweight, Obesity, and Weight Loss Fact Sheet - This fact sheet defines obesity and explains some of the factors that contribute to becoming overweight or obese. It provides statistics on how many women are obese, explains the serious health problems associated with obesity, and discusses how obese women can lose weight to improve their health.
    /publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/overweight-weight-loss.cfm
  • Pap Test Fact Sheet - This fact sheet explains what a Pap test is, why women need routine Pap tests, how it is performed, and what the results mean.
    /publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/pap-test.cfm
  • Smoking and How to Quit - These pages from womenshealth.gov empower women to quit smoking and all forms of tobacco use. Learn why quitting matters to your health, your quality of life, and the health of others. The site also offers strategies that can help you quit for good.
    /smoking-how-to-quit/
  • Syphilis Fact Sheet - This fact sheet explains what syphilis is, how it is spread, and how best to avoid infection. It describes symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment, and lists sources to contact for more information on syphilis.
    /publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/syphilis.cfm

Explore other publications and websites

  • Am I at Risk for Type 2 Diabetes? Taking Steps to Lower Your Risk of Getting Diabetes - This fact sheet defines diabetes and reviews the signs and symptoms of the disease. It discusses the risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes and the ways it can be prevented.
    http://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/dm/pubs/riskfortype2/index.htm
  • Calculate Your Body Mass Index - The Body Mass Index (BMI) is a measure of body fat based on height and weight that applies to both adult men and women. Enter your weight and height to find your BMI. The BMI tables will help you determine whether you are underweight, normal weight, overweight, or obese.
    http://www.nhlbisupport.com/bmi/
  • Cervical Cancer - This website has links to information on cervical cancer. Topics include treatment, prevention, causes, screenings, statistics, and more.
    http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/types/cervical/
  • Cholesterol - This Web page links users to many publications and organizations providing information on cholesterol testing, treatment for high cholesterol, and ways to improve cholesterol levels through lifestyle changes.
    http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/cholesterol.html
  • Colon and Rectal Cancer - This website has links to information on colon and rectal cancer. Topics include treatment, prevention, causes, screenings, statistics, and more.
    http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/types/colon-and-rectal/
  • Colonoscopy - This fact sheet explains what a colonoscopy is and why it is performed, how to prepare for one, and how the procedure is performed.
    http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/colonoscopy/index.htm
  • Fact Sheets - Alcohol Use and Health - This fact sheet talks about how to know if you have an alcohol problem and the immediate and long-term health risks of alcohol.
    http://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/alcohol-use.htm
  • Flexible Sigmoidoscopy - This publication explains what flexible sigmoidoscopy is, why and how it is performed, how it differs from colonoscopy, and how to prepare for one.
    http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/sigmoidoscopy/div>
  • Frequently Asked Questions About HIV and STD Testing (Copyright © HIVTest.org) - This publication answers common questions about testing for HIV, including who should get tested for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections and what HIV test results mean.
    http://www.hivtest.org/FAQ.aspx
  • Osteoporosis - This fact sheet describes what osteoporosis is, lists facts and figures, gives guidelines for calcium intake, and other preventative tips.
    http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Bone/Osteoporosis/default.asp
  • Women and Depression: Discovering Hope - This brochure talks about what depression is, the different forms of depression, and the symptoms of depression in women. It also talks about how depression affects women of all ages and gives advice on where to go for help.
    http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/women-and-depression-discovering-hope/depression-what-every-woman-should-know.pdf
  • Your Guide to Lowering High Blood Pressure - This website has an interactive guide that answers common questions about high blood pressure and offers tips and quizzes. It also provides information on medications and suggestions on how to talk to your doctor.
    http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/hbp/index.html

Connect with other organizations

Content last updated: June 07, 2013.

Resources last updated: June 25, 2013.

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