A Woman’s Guide to Recommended Medical Tests by Age

Posted: 
June 2017

Learn about the screenings you should consider throughout your lifespan.

There are many women’s health screenings that detect and prevent disease to help keep you healthy throughout your lifespan. Follow our recommended medical tests by age to determine which procedures you should have and when. 

One of the recommended medical tests for women is an annual blood pressure test beginning at age 18.

Blood pressure test

Using an inflatable cuff, your women’s health provider will detect the pressure in your arteries as your blood pumps. A reading of 120/80 is considered normal. If your blood pressure is higher or much lower, your doctor may offer advice or treatment options to help you achieve a normal result. A blood pressure test is typically performed at least every year for adult women at any age, and more often if your results are considered high or low.

Pap smear

During your pelvic exam, your gynecologist may perform a Pap smear to test for cervical cancer, and in some cases, HPV. He or she will collect cells from your cervix using a brush or swab. This recommended medical test has a different frequency, depending on your age, risk factors, and results of prior tests. If all is normal, women age 21-29 should have a Pap smear every three years. For those over 30, your women’s health doctor may recommend a Pap every five years. And women over 65 can stop getting Pap smears if they do not have a history of cervical cancer or abnormal cells. Keep in mind that you should still visit your gynecologist annually for a pelvic exam at any age.

STD testing

If you are sexually active, experts recommend that you test for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and HIV beginning as young as  age 13. The frequency of each test varies based on your sexual activity and risk, so discuss your lifestyle and history with your gynecologist.

Cholesterol test

A blood test to assess your cholesterol level is an important recommended medical test because it is an indicator of your risk for cardiovascular disease. Your women’s health doctor may order a complete lipoprotein analysis to measure the total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and triglycerides every five years, beginning at age 45. Testing at an earlier age may make sense if you are at increased risk for heart disease.

Diabetes screening

Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes are indicators that your pancreas may not be functioning normally, causing your body to produce too much glucose. Your women’s health doctor may recommend a blood test that screens for diabetes for women at any age who have risk factors, such as high blood pressure, a history of gestational diabetes, high cholesterol, and high body mass index (BMI). Beginning at age 45, you may receive an initial test even if you are not at risk, and if the results are normal, you may not need another test for three years.

Mammogram

Using an x-ray to capture images of your breasts, mammography is a tool used to detect breast cancer. Most experts recommend this medical test annually, beginning at age 40. While it may not catch every case, mammography is about 84% effective and remains one of the most reliable screening tools that women’s health doctors use today. Find out what to expect from your first mammogram here.

Bone mineral density screening

Women’s health doctors use a bone mineral density test to determine the strength of your bones and your risk for developing osteoporosis. This recommended medical test is for women over age 65 and younger women with a bone fracture or other risk factors, such as rheumatoid arthritis and smoking. 

Colonoscopy

The American Cancer Society recommends a colonoscopy or other colorectal screening every ten years for anyone aged 50 and over. African American women should begin this test at age 45. This screening helps identify polyps that are likely to grow into cancer over time. If you have a family history of colorectal cancer, your doctor may recommend that you start screening earlier. 

Life is precious. Scheduling women’s health screenings to detect health problems early is one of the best ways you can take care of yourself. For personalized recommended medical tests by age, request an appointment with our doctors and women’s health team today. 

This is a public forum, by which BDWH provides general information to patients and prospective patients. You should not post any personal or identifying information on this Blog. The information that appears on this Blog does not constitute medical advice and is not a substitute for a consultation with a Healthcare Professional.

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