Women are living longer than ever before and better, too. As your body changes, however, so do your health care needs. Keep abreast of the changes and head off potential health threats with these important preventive tests and screenings recommended by ACOG.
Your Annual Check-up
All women over 45 should regularly undergo the following health screening tests:
Body mass index A yearly assessment of body mass based on height and weight to help determine whether you are overweight.
Cervical cancer screening Every three years after three consecutive negative tests for low-risk women 30-64, or as recommended by your doctor. Low-risk women ages 65 and older, who have had three or more normal Pap tests within the last 10 years, can discontinue Pap testing unless they have risk factors for sexually transmitted diseases.
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) test Routine testing in women up to age 64.
Pelvic exam Annually to check the health of your reproductive organs and to help detect certain cancers in their early stages. Some women, including those who have had a hysterectomy or are in poor health, may be able to forego this exam.
Breast exam Annually by your physician to detect breast lumps or masses of concern; monthly by you, if you wish.
Mammogram Every year beginning at age 40 to screen for breast cancer.
Lipid profile Every five years to check for elevated cholesterol.
Blood pressure Annually to check for elevated blood pressure.
Bone density test Recommended for all women ages 65 and older; may be recommended for younger women with one or more risk factors for osteoporosis.
Colon cancer screening Regular screening beginning at age 50 for women at average risk. Preferred method: colonoscopy every 10 years. Other appropriate options: yearly patient-collected guaiac fecal occult blood test (gFOBT) or fecal immunochemical test (FIT); flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years; double-contrast barium enema every 5 years; CT colonography (“virtual colonoscopy”) every 5 years; or stool DNA testing (it is not known how often this test is needed).
Fasting glucose test Every three years to check for elevated blood sugar.
Thyroid-stimulating hormone screening Every five years beginning at age 50 to check for thyroid problems.
Annual influenza vaccine beginning at age 50; tetanus-diphtheria booster every 10 years for women 40 and older (women 40-64, who have not been immunized against pertussis [whooping cough] need a one-shot dose of the tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis vaccine); one-time herpes zoster (shingles) vaccine for women 60 and older; one-time pneumococcal pneumonia vaccine in women 65 and older.