Women's Health Screenings

As a primary care provider, my goal is to ensure the well-being of my patients, especially when it comes to preventive health care. One crucial aspect of this is helping them understand when and why to recommend various health screenings for women.

As you review these recommendations, remember that health care is individualized. Those at higher risk for conditions may require additional or earlier screenings. Always consult with your care provider to determine what is right for you.

Why You Need a Primary Care Provider

Regular visits to your primary care provider are important, even if you feel well. These visits serve several purposes, including screening for existing medical conditions, assessing your risk factors for health issues, updating vaccinations, and possibly most importantly, building a rapport for potential future illnesses or concerns.

 During these appointments, your provider may inquire about:

  • -mental health concerns like depression and anxiety
  • -dietary habits and physical activity
  • -alcohol, tobacco, and controlled substance consumption
  • -safety precautions such as seat belt usage, smoke detectors, and potential intimate partner violence
  • -medications you’re taking and any associated risks for interactions
  • hearing, vision, and dental concerns

Remember, all conversations with your provider are protected by HIPPA and completely confidential.

Regular health screenings are essential for maintaining optimal health and detecting potential issues early. Remember to consult your primary care provider for personalized recommendations based on your individual health profile and risk factors.

Recommended Screenings for Women by Age

Here’s a breakdown of screening I recommend at different stages of life:

Anxiety and Depression:

  • Age for screening: All women
  • Frequency: At least annually
  • Reason: Anxiety and depression are unfortunately common at any age. Undiagnosed and untreated, they negatively affect a woman’s daily home, work, and social life and can worsen or lead to other health problems as well. Acknowledgment and treatment, when necessary of these problems improve the overall quality of life.

Blood Pressure: 

  • Age for Screening: All ages
  • Frequency: Every year
  • Reason: Detecting hypertension early can help prevent serious complications such as heart disease and stroke.

Bone Density: 

  • Age for Screening: 65 or after, but earlier if deemed necessary by your primary care provider.
  • Frequency: At least once
  • Reason: Assessing bone health helps in detecting osteoporosis, especially vital for postmenopausal women.

Breast Cancer: 

  • Age for Screening: 40-74
  • Frequency: Annually
  • Reason: Early detection significantly improves treatment outcomes for breast cancer.

Cervical Cancer: 

  • Age for Screening: Age 21-65
  • Frequency: Pap test every three years with options for Pap test and HPV test every five years from age 30.
  • Reason: Pap tests help identify precancerous changes in cervical cells, increasing the effectiveness of treatment of cervical cancer.

Cholesterol screening: 

  • Age for Screening: 45 for women with no known risk factors for coronary heart disease; Age 20 for women with known risk factors for coronary heart disease.
  • Frequency: Yearly
  • Reason: High cholesterol levels may indicate an increased risk for coronary artery disease.

Colorectal Cancer: 

  • Age for Screening: 45-75
  • Frequency: Depends upon risk factors- discuss with your primary care provider for personalized recommendations.
  • Reason: Screening aids in the early detection and treatment of colorectal cancer, which is highly curable when detected early.


  • Age for Screening: If overweight and between 35-70 years old
  • Frequency: Every three years, or as advised by your health care provider
  • Reason: Early detection of diabetes or prediabetes allows for easier management and reduces the risk of complications.


  • Age for Screening: 2 years+
  • Frequency: Once or twice every year for an exam and cleaning
  • Reason: Screening detects tooth and gum issues and oral cancer and may reduce cardiovascular disease risk.


  • Age for screening: All women
  • Frequency:
    • Newborn
    • School-age children eye function and alignment screening annually
    • Age 40-64 without risk factors should be examined by an ophthalmologist every 2-4 years, or more frequently depending on your doctor’s recommendation
    • Women with diabetes need a diabetic eye exam annually
  • Reason: Screening detects any vision changes, eye diseases, and systemic health conditions.

Hepatitis C: 

  • Age for Screening: All adults ages 18 to 79 and once each pregnancy
  • Frequency: One time
  • Reason: Hepatitis C can cause progressive liver fibrosis and cirrhosis but can be cured in 8-12 weeks with treatment.


  • Age for Screening: At least once after age 20 or earlier if at high risk
  • Frequency: Discuss further testing with your doctor based on risk factors.
  • Reason: Early diagnosis enables prompt treatment and prevents transmission.

Lipid Profile: 

  • Age for Screening: Starting at age 20 for those at increased risk of heart disease
  • Frequency: Regular screenings as advised by your primary care provider
  • Reason: Monitoring cholesterol levels helps in assessing cardiovascular health.

Lung Cancer: 

  • Age for Screening: 55-80 for people between ages 55 and 80 if you have smoked the equivalent of a pack a day for 30 years and currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years.
  • Frequency: Annual testing with low-dose CT scans.
  • Reason: Early detection greatly improves treatment outcomes for lung cancer.

Sexually transmitted infections (chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis): 

  • Age for Screening: Starting when sexually active
  • Frequency: Yearly through age 24 if you are sexually active or pregnant. After age 25, get tested if you are at increased risk.
  • Reason: Early diagnosis enables prompt treatment and prevents transmission.

Skin Cancer: 

  • Age for Screening: Beginning at age 20
  • Frequency: Annually
  • Reason: Early detection of melanoma and other types of skin cancer increases the effectiveness of treatment.

Prioritizing women’s health through suggested screenings is important for early detection and prevention of various medical conditions. Regular visits to a primary care provider are the foundation of comprehensive health care, including physical, mental, and social aspects of well-being. From blood pressure checks to mental health assessments, each screening recommendation emphasizes the importance of preventive measures across different stages of life. By proactively engaging in these screenings and maintaining open communication with health care providers, women are empowered to take charge of their health.
Dr. Allisa Alpert is board-certified in internal medicine and practices at Downtown Medical Associates.