Preventative & Routine Health Screenings for Women by Age

Preventive health screenings are essential in detecting early signs of health problems in women. Grasping the nuances of these screenings and the significance of abnormal results is fundamental for timely intervention and treatment. This guide delves into the recommended screenings for women by age, following guidelines from the CDC and Health Canada. It covers the health issues linked to abnormal findings and their implications.

Routine Screenings & Frequency

Below is a breakdown of the most important screenings and blood tests every woman should have by age. Remember, it's crucial to discuss your family history with healthcare providers, as genetic predispositions can influence screening types and frequency. As age increases, the likelihood of certain health conditions rises, so the screenings listed in your 30s include those in your 20s, and 40s include those in your 30s, and so on.

Your 20s

  • Annually: Blood Pressure Screening, Skin Cancer Screening
  • Every 2 to 5 years: Pelvic Exam and Pap Smear
  • Every 5 years: Cholesterol Check
  • As Needed: STD Panel

Your 30s

  • Monthly: Breast Self-Exam
  • Every 2 to 5 years: Blood Glucose Test
  • Every 5 years: Thyroid Function Test

Your 40s

  • Annually: Mammogram
  • Every 5 - 10 years: Colonoscopy

Your 50s

  • Every 2 to 5 years: Osteoporosis Screening
  • Every 5 - 10 years: Cardiac Calcium Scoring

Your 60s & Beyond

  • Annually: Lung Cancer Screening, Dementia Screening
  • Every 2 to 5 years: Hearing & Vision Test

Screening Overview

Pelvic Exam & Pap Smear

Purpose: Detects early signs of cervical cancer or HPV.

Symptoms & Signs: Abnormal vaginal bleeding, unusual discharge, pain during intercourse, pelvic pain, urinary problems. Note: These symptoms can also indicate other conditions.

Importance: Many early cervical cancers are asymptomatic, making regular Pap smears vital.

Cholesterol Check / Lipid Panel

Purpose: Assesses heart disease and stroke risk.

The normal ranges for the biomarkers typically included in a lipid panel are as follows:

Total Cholesterol:

  • Desirable: Less than 200 mg/dL (milligrams per deciliter)
  • Borderline High: 200-239 mg/dL
  • High: 240 mg/dL and above

Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL) Cholesterol (often referred to as "bad" cholesterol):

  • Optimal: Less than 100 mg/dL
  • Near Optimal: 100-129 mg/dL
  • Borderline High: 130-159 mg/dL
  • High: 160-189 mg/dL
  • Very High: 190 mg/dL and above

High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL) Cholesterol (often referred to as "good" cholesterol):

  • Low (Poor): Less than 40 mg/dL for men and less than 50 mg/dL for women
  • Desirable: 60 mg/dL and above
  • Triglycerides:
  • Normal: Less than 150 mg/dL
  • Borderline High: 150-199 mg/dL
  • High: 200-499 mg/dL
  • Very High: 500 mg/dL and above

Implications: Deviations can indicate increased risk for heart-related issues.

Blood Pressure Screening

Purpose: Detects hypertension, a risk factor for heart disease, stroke, and kidney issues.

  • Optimal: Less than 120/80 mm Hg
  • Pre-Hypertension: 120/80 to 140/90
  • Hypertension: Greater than 140/90 mm Hg

Implications: Early detection is crucial for managing and preventing complications.

Skin Cancer / Melanoma Screening

Purpose: Early detection of skin cancers.

Signs to Watch For: Changes in moles, new skin growths, itchy or painful lesions, bleeding, scaly patches, redness, changes in sensation, non-healing sores.

Importance: Regular self-examination and awareness of skin changes are key.

STD Screening

Purpose: Detects infections transmitted through sexual contact.

Common Tests: Chlamydia, gonorrhea, HIV, syphilis, herpes.

Implications: Early detection and treatment prevent complications and reduce transmission.

Diabetes Screening & Blood Glucose Test

Purpose: Manages and diagnoses diabetes.

Tests & Uses: Fasting Plasma Glucose Test, Oral Glucose Tolerance Test, Hemoglobin A1C Test.

Implications: Detects diabetes, pre-diabetes, and monitors management efficacy.

Thyroid Function Test

Purpose: Checks for hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism.

Symptoms & Signs: Fatigue, weight changes, cold sensitivity, constipation, skin changes, hair loss, muscle issues, mood changes, menstrual changes, slowed heart rate, hoarseness.

Importance: Early symptoms can be subtle and develop slowly.

Breast Self-Exam

Purpose: Early detection of breast cancer or benign breast diseases.

Signs to Watch For: Lumps, size or shape changes, skin changes, nipple changes, pain, texture changes, swelling.

Importance: Awareness of changes is crucial for early detection.


Purpose: Examines breast tissue for signs of cancer.

Importance: Detects tumors too small to be felt; essential for early detection and diagnosis.


Purpose: Examines the large intestine for abnormalities, including colorectal cancer.

Signs & Symptoms: Changes in bowel habits, bleeding, abdominal discomfort, incomplete bowel emptying, weakness, weight loss, anemia.

Importance: Effective in early cancer detection and prevention.

Osteoporosis Screening

Methods: DEXA, QUS, pDXA.

Purpose: Diagnoses osteoporosis and assesses fracture risk.

Importance: Early detection is key to managing and reducing fracture risks.

Cardiac Calcium Scoring

Purpose: Assesses coronary artery disease risk.

Method: CT Scan.

Scoring System & Implications: Varies from no plaque to extensive plaque; higher scores indicate higher risk.

Hearing and Vision Tests

Purpose: Monitors changes in hearing and vision with age.

Types of Tests: Audiometry, SRT, Tympanometry, OAE, Bone Conduction; Visual Acuity, Tonometry, Dilated Eye Exam, Peripheral Vision, Slit-Lamp Examination.

Lung Cancer Screening

Methods: Low-Dose Computed Tomography (LDCT), Chest X-Ray.

Purpose: Detects lung cancer early, especially in at-risk populations such as those who smoke.

Dementia & Alzheimer’s Screening

Methods: Clinical evaluation, cognitive tests, lab tests, neuroimaging, psychiatric evaluation.

Purpose: Assesses cognitive function and memory.

Importance: Early diagnosis is crucial for managing symptoms and slowing progression.


Routine health screenings play a vital role in maintaining well-being across different life stages. From blood pressure screenings and skin cancer checks in your 20s to more comprehensive assessments like osteoporosis screening and dementia evaluation in your 60s and beyond, each test serves a unique purpose in detecting early signs of potential health issues. Understanding the purpose, frequency, and implications of each screening, along with being aware of your family history and genetic predispositions, is crucial for proactive health management. The provided guidelines offer a structured approach to healthcare, emphasizing the importance of early detection and prevention in managing and mitigating risks associated with various health conditions. Remember, staying informed and engaged with your health screenings can significantly impact your long-term health and quality of life.

Disclaimer: This blog post is intended for educational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice. Always consult your healthcare provider for personal health concerns.