The Health Screenings All Women Should Know About And When To Get Them

Healthcare in the United States tends to be very costly, even if you pay for health insurance, and free time is scarce, especially during business hours. As a result, many Americans only consider heading to the doctor when they feel they have no other choice but to seek treatment for an acute illness or injury. According to Reuters, over a third of 30-year-old Americans don't even have a primary care provider. Women, in particular, need a few health screenings that men don't have to worry about in order to stay on top of their health.


Preventative care is easy to knock off the priority list when money or time is tight. After all, you're not even sick. This type of care is the key, though, to catching serious conditions like cancer before they're advanced enough to start causing noticeable symptoms. In fact, theĀ Canary Foundation has reported that since cervical cancer screenings started in 1959, cases have dropped 70% across all developed nations. Here are the most important health screenings for women to have, how often you should have them, and at what age they become recommended by health professionals.

Screenings in your 20s and 30s

Once you reach the age of 21, it's time for regular genealogical screenings to begin. This typically starts with pelvic exams and pap smears, which screen for HPV and/or cervical cancer. The vast majority of instances of cervical cancer are caused by Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), an exceedingly common sexually transmitted infection. A pap smear can identify whether you have one of the high-risk variations of HPV, which are more likely to turn into cancer. According to the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force, you should receive this screening every three years unless abnormal cells are detected. In that case, you'll need to follow your doctor's recommendations for repeat or additional testing.


Your 20s are also the ideal decade to start being routinely screened for skin cancer. While there are currently no official recommendations for when to start these exams or how often to have them repeated, it is no secret that early detection is vital, especially in cases of melanoma. Between yearly trips to the dermatologist for full body skin checks, it's important to perform self-checks, as recommended by the American Cancer Society. Any new or changing mole, freckle, or skin tag should be evaluated by a doctor as soon as possible.

Your 40s and beyond

At the age of 40, it's time to schedule your first mammogram. This procedure screens for breast cancer, which reports now affects one in eight women in the United States. If you don't have a family history of breast cancer, a mammogram once every two years is considered sufficient. If you do have one, you'll need a mammogram every year. Other risk factors such as obesity, daily alcohol consumption, and a diet high in red meat can also lead to the recommendation for more frequent breast cancer screenings. Between mammograms, you should check your breasts regularly for signs of cancer including dimpling, lumps, and nipple discharge.


By the time you arrive in your mid-40s, you should schedule your first screening for colon cancer. As one of the top three cancers in the U.S., colon cancer is a significant risk for both women and men. The most recommended procedure is a coloscopy. However, screening via a stool sample is becoming a more viable and affordable option, according to theĀ Mayo Clinic. If you don't have a family history of colon cancer and your first screening shows nothing of concern, you'll only need to repeat the process once every ten years.