Skip to main content


2023 Women's Health Guidelines

Aug 2, 2023, 12:08 PM by Sansum Clinic
women of all ages hugging

The COVID-19 pandemic caused many people to cancel or delay routine medical visits and screenings. Even if you feel fine, we recommend annual physical exams with your primary care provider to help prevent future medical issues. The easiest way to schedule an annual exam is to use MyChart. You can also schedule next year’s annual exam when you check out after an appointment with us. If you need an earlier appointment, you can also add yourself to our Wait List in case one becomes available. 

In addition to regular annual checkups, we recommend the below health guidelines for women:

(OB/GYN physicians can provide and discuss with pregnant patients a separate list of recommended tests and screenings, not listed here.)

All Women
  • Annual flu shots 
  • Blood pressure screening should occur at each visit with a healthcare provider.  
  • Annual blood pressure screening for:
    • Black women, due to an increased risk of uncontrolled blood pressure between the ages of 20 and 50 years old
    • Patients on medications which may raise blood pressure
    • Adults who are considered to be overweight or medically obese
    • Adults with elevated blood pressure (BP 130-139).
  • Current vaccines listed on the CDC's Adult Immunization Schedule
  • Knowledge of family history of medical conditions like heart disease, cancer or other potentially-inheritable conditions which may impact preventive health screening guidelines
  • Screening for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes in any adults who are overweight, are considered to be medically-obese or who are at an increased risk for diabetes. 
  • Monthly breast self-exams. Become familiar with how your breasts look and feel so you can notice lumps, pain, or changes in size that may be of concern. Report any changes you observe to your doctor or healthcare provider.
  • Depression/anxiety disorder screening during annual physical exams
  • Cholesterol screening every 4-6 years for women age 20+. Your doctor may recommend more frequent screenings if you have certain risk factors like diabetes or heart disease. 
  • Body mass index (BMI) calculated at annual physical exam
  • Annual chlamydia and gonorrhea screening in all sexually-active women age 24 years or younger, and in women age 25 years or older who are at increased risk for infection 
  • One-time HIV infection and Hepatitis C screening for those at low-risk, more frequent screenings for those at high-risk. 
  • Regular skin exams are recommended for people who have a personal or family history of skin cancer, or certain conditions that increase their risk for skin cancer. It is important to be aware of changes in your skin, such as a new mole or a change to an existing mole, and to report them to your doctor promptly.  

Age 21-29
  • Cervical cancer screening with cervical cytology (Pap test) every three years until age 30 for low-risk patients. Women with a history of abnormal Pap test results should discuss with their healthcare provider if more frequent screening is needed.

Age 30-65
  • Cervical cancer screening with either cervical cytology (Pap test) every 3 years until age 65, or the high-risk HPV test every 5 years, or both pap and high-risk HPV test every 5 years (cotesting) (Most healthcare providers require previous negative test results and low risk factors before recommending the every-5-year HPV test only. )

Note: if you have had your uterus and cervix removed (hysterectomy) you do not need to continue Pap tests. Women with a history of abnormal Pap test results should discuss with their healthcare provider if more frequent screening is needed.

Age 35+

  • Cholesterol screening with a lipid panel (blood test), even with no risk factors for coronary heart disease 

Age 40+
  • Yearly 3D mammography for women with average risk. Mammography is safe and effective during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Doctors may recommend starting mammography before age 40, or may recommend additional breast screening tests, based on personal and family history.
  • Discuss with your healthcare provider any bowel symptoms or changes like blood in the stool or pain during bowel movements.
  • Baseline comprehensive eye exam starting at age 40, even if you have no symptoms or risk factors, to look for signs of cataracts, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy or age-related macular degeneration

Age 45+
  • Colonoscopy for women at average risk for colon cancer. Discuss with your healthcare provider any personal history of colon cancer or polyps, family history of colon cancer, or an inherited genetic condition which could raise your risk of colon cancer. 
  • Type 2 diabetes or pre diabetes screening with blood testing, even without symptoms

Age 50+
  • For smokers or those who have quit within the past 15 years,  ask your healthcare provider if you qualify for lung cancer screening with annual low-dose CT scanning.

Age 65+
  • Eye exam every year or every other year starting at age 65
  • Bone density test (DEXA scan)  to screen for osteoporosis; earlier screening for women who are at increased risk of osteoporosis due to comorbidities or medications.

Symptoms to watch for & always report to your healthcare provider:

  • Changes in bowel habits, blood in the stool, pain during bowel movements
  • Changes in bladder habits like frequent urination, urinary urgency or blood in the urine
  • Racing heart palpitations
  • Irregular periods; excessive menstrual bleeding
  • Mood swings or emotional changes like feelings of anxiousness. helplessness, irritability, depression, loss of interest in activities, or trouble sleeping
  • Hot/cold flashes or night sweats 
  • Vaginal dryness 
  • Pain during sexual activity or loss in libido (sex drive)
  • Joint and muscle aches and pains
  • Difficulty concentrating or brain fog

Healthy Lifestyle Habits:

  • Eat a healthy, varied diet. Our dietician nutritionists recommend a diet filled with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, legumes, minimally-processed foods, minimized amounts of sugar and salt.
  • Stay active and get regular exercise. Each week, adults need 150 minutes of moderate-intensity, physical activity and 2 days of muscle-strengthening activity,
  • Drinking too much can harm your health, according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC).  Limit intake to 1 drink or less in a day for women.
  • Maintain a healthy weight and learn to manage stress in a healthy way.
  • Get enough sleep. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends 7+ hours a night for adults. A lack of sleep can affect memory, emotional health and weight. 
  • Don't smoke and avoid exposure to secondhand smoke.