Although women generally live longer than men, they often fail to get recommended health screenings that could detect serious diseases and other health problems that affect quality of life.  While it is true that some of these health issues generally become a problem later in life, there are some screenings that should begin in early adulthood.  These are some common health screening tests, along with when to begin and how often to rescreen.

Blood Pressure

Blood pressure is usually taken every time a woman visits the doctor.  If the readings are normal, then blood pressure should be checked at least once a year.  If a patient has a history of high blood pressure, or hypertension, she should be checked more often.  The doctor may advise that the patient purchase a blood pressure monitor to check readings at home.

Pap Smear

A pap smear is used to detect cervical cancer.  Current recommendations are that women ages 21-29 be tested every 3 years.  Women ages 30-64 should have a pap smear every 3 years and a pap smear and HPV test every 5 years.  Women ages 65 and older having three consecutive normal pap smears and no abnormal results in 10 years no longer need to be tested.  Women without a cervix due to hysterectomy do not need testing.


The American Diabetes Association recommends annual screening for Type 2 diabetes beginning at age 45.  Women who are overweight or have higher risk factors for diabetes should be tested at age 40.  The screening is generally a fasting blood glucose test.


Not all doctors and organizations agree on guidelines for testing for breast cancer.  The American Cancer Society previously has recommended that annual mammograms begin at age 40.  In 2015, the organization changed its recommendations to an annual mammogram for ages 45-54, and then one every other year.  If there is a family history of the disease, testing should begin sooner.


The American Cancer Society recommends both women and men have a colonoscopy at age 50.  If there is a family history of colon cancer, testing should begin at age 40.  If the colonoscopy results are normal, the test should be repeated in 10 years.

Bone Density

This test screens for osteoporosis.  According to the National Institutes of Health, women should have a bone density test at age 65.  If bone density is good, rescreening can be done in 2-3 years.  The National Osteoporosis Foundations recommends that anyone who breaks a bone after age 50 have a bone density test.