Women's Healthcare Guidelines


Follow these 10 steps for better health:

  1. Be informed. Learn about health promotion and disease prevention. Ask your healthcare provider for specific information about your needs.

  2. Be good to your bones. For healthy bones, be sure to get calcium every day with plenty of foods and drinks that have it. This includes milk and dairy foods, tofu, leafy greens, canned salmon or sardines, and juices or breads with added calcium. Ask your healthcare provider if you need calcium supplements.

  3. Don't use illegal drugs and limit alcohol. For women, the definition of moderate drinking is 1 drink a day. A drink is 1 5-ounce glass of wine, 1 12-ounce bottle of beer or wine cooler, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits. Keep in mind that the alcohol content of each type of drink can vary. For illegal drugs, there is no safe or moderate use.

  4. Take medicine wisely. Read the labels and follow the directions carefully. Tell your healthcare provider or pharmacist about any other prescription medicines, over-the-counter medicines, herbs, or supplements you are taking. This is because they could change the effects of your medicines. For your safety and to lower your risk for side effects or interactions, tell your healthcare provider if you use any illegal or recreational drugs. If you have any questions about side effects, call your healthcare provider or pharmacist.

  5. Play it safe. Prevent injuries. Use your seatbelt. Wear a helmet when you ride a motorcycle or bicycle. Use smoke and carbon monoxide detectors at home. Wear sunscreen and sunglasses with 100% UV protection. Practice safe sex by using condoms to protect against sexually transmitted infections.

  6. Get checked. Get regular checkups, exams, cancer screenings, and vaccines as directed by your healthcare provider. Don't forget self-exams, too. Check your skin and mouth. Be familiar with how your breasts normally look and feel. Report any changes to your healthcare provider right away.

  7. Don't smoke. Smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the U.S. Ask your healthcare provider for resources to help you quit.

  8. Eat smart. Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Enjoy a variety of foods from each food group and eat sensible portions.

  9. Get moving. Get at least 150 minutes of physical activity over the course of each week. It can greatly improve the way you look and feel. Try exercising for 30 minutes at least 5 days a week. Also do muscle strengthening exercises 2 days a week.

  10. Do things you enjoy. Take time for yourself. Connect with family, friends, and your community.

Each Day

  • Exercise 30 minutes a day.
  • Protect yourself from the sun - use sunscreen and dress appropriately.
  • Watch your fat intake - no more than 25 % to 35% of your calorie intake. Most fats should come from sources of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids, such as fish, nuts, and vegetable oils.
  • Eat sources of protein such as lean or low-fat meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs, and nuts.
    Eat 5 to 9 services of fruits and vegetables daily.
    At least half of all of the grains eaten should be whole-grains.
    Consume 3 cups of fat-free or low-fat milk or equivalent milk products per day.
  • Be aware of your alcohol intake and stress level.

Each Month

  • Do an oral cavity self-exam, gums, teeth, lips, tongue.
  • Do a full-body self-exam for unusual moles or other skin conditions. Have your healthcare provider examine moles annually, or immediately for suspicious growths.
  • Be aware of your weight, check your BMI (body mass index).

Each Year

  • Have a dental checkup once or twice a year. Have vision and hearing checked annually.
  • Have a pelvic exam and Pap test starting at age 21.Talk with your healthcare provider about his or her recommendations for further testing and screening for the human papillomavirus, or HPV.*
  • Have your blood pressure and cholesterol levels checked.
  • Talk with your doctor about when you should have a mammogram.
  • Get a flu shot.


  • Discuss with your healthcare provider whether you need an annual exam.
  • After age 50:

    Have a fecal occult blood test every year, or have a flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years, OR

    Have a double contrast barium enema every 5 years, OR

    Have a colonoscopy every 10 years

    Start screening with a colonoscopy at age 45 in African Americans

  • Starting at age 45: every 5 years have a full lipid profile test for cholesterol and triglycerides.

    Earlier screening is recommended if you have risk factors for coronary artery disease.

  • Get pneumococcal and shingles vaccines. Ask your healthcare provider if any other vaccinations are needed or if immunization recommendations have changed.

    After age 65: get the pneumococcal vaccines; also recommended for those younger than 65 who have medical problems that increase the risk for serious complications and death

  • Get a tetanus/diphtheria (td) booster every 10 years.

* The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists advises women to have their first Pap test at age 21. Women ages 21 to 29 should have a Pap test every 3 years. HPV testing alone can be considered for women who are ages 25 to 29, but Pap tests are preferred.

Women ages 30 to 65 have 3 choices for testing:

  • Pap test and HPV test every 5 years
  • Pap test alone every 3 years
  • HPV testing alone every 5 years

It's OK to stop screening for cervical cancer in women age 65 and over who have never had abnormal cervical cells or cervical cancer and have had 2 or 3 negative cancer screenings in a row. Talk with your healthcare provider for any exceptions to these guidelines.

Wellness and Prevention