Five important questions every woman should ask their doctor1. When do I need a mammogram and pap smear?
While you’re in your 40s, you should have a mammogram every year. Between ages 50 and 74, most doctors switch to every other year. Your doctor may recommend more frequent screenings if you’re at higher risk for breast cancer.
Use our Decision Making Tool: Should I Have a Mammogram
Doctors recommend a first pap smear by age 21 and repeat tests every two years after that.
2. When do I need a colonoscopy?
If you’re at average risk, screening usually starts at age 50. A colonoscopy is used to screen for other disorders as well.
Learn more about common reasons for this procedure.
3. When should I be screened for osteoporosis?
A special type of X-ray can measure bone strength and find osteoporosis before breaks happen. It can also help predict the risk of future breaks. This screening is recommended for all women age 65 and above. If you have risk factors for osteoporosis, you may need to start sooner.
Learn more about screening tests for osteoporosis.
4. How do I know if I should be tested for sexually transmitted diseases?
If you have symptoms of an STD, you should be tested as soon as possible. Some common symptoms of STDs include sores on the genitals, discharge from the vagina, genital itching, and burning during urination. However, it is quite common for people to have sexually transmitted infections without ever experiencing symptoms.
If you've had sex with another person and did not use a condom, female condom, dental dam, or other barrier, it's a good idea to talk to your doctor about STD testing. Getting tested can put your mind at ease or get you (and your partner) needed treatment.
Learn more about common STDs.
5. Am I at a healthy weight?
Body Mass Index (BMI) is one number used to assess a person's ideal weight range. (Calculate yours here.) But it is just one number and each person is unique. Ask your doctor if you should be concerned about your weight and if so, healthy strategies to get to the healthiest weight for you.
Learn more about achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.
Have an honest, open discussion with your doctor
- A decrease in energy levels or sex drive;
- unusual feelings of exhaustion;
- bloating or change in bathroom habits; or
- feeling sad or depressed often
A final note about screening testsScreening tests and blood work are two preventative tools that your doctor will use to monitor your health at each annual check-up. Talk to your doctor about which tests make the most sense for you. Some tests, such as a pap smear or physical breast exam, should be a routine part of every woman’s health care. Other tests might be necessary based on your risk factors. Screening tests won’t necessarily prevent a disease, but they often find a disease early enough to give you the best chance of overcoming it.
Learn more about guidelines for screening tests for women.