Women's Health Care Guidelines

Picture of a woman smiling

The National Women's Health Information Center offers the following 10 things you can do to help live longer, live better, and live happier:

  1. Be informed. Learn about health promotion and disease prevention and ask your health care provider for specific information regarding your needs.

  2. Be good to your bones. For healthy bones, be sure to replenish your stock of calcium every day with plenty of foods such as milk and other dairy products, tofu, leafy green vegetables, canned salmon or sardines, and calcium-fortified juices or breads. Speak with your health care provider about calcium supplements.

  3. Avoid illegal drugs and alcohol. For women, the definition of moderate drinking stops at one drink a day. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines a drink as one 5-ounce glass of wine, one 12-ounce bottle of beer or wine cooler, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits. Remember that the alcohol content of each type of drink can vary widely. Where illicit drugs are concerned, there is no such thing as "moderate" use.

  4. Take medicine wisely. Read the labels, follow the instructions carefully, and remind your health care provider or pharmacist about any other medicines or supplements you might be taking that could interact with your medication. For your safety – to lower your risk for adverse side effects or medication interactions, for instance – you should also let your health care provider know if you use any illicit or "recreational" drugs. If you have any questions about possible side effects, call your health care provider or pharmacist.

  5. Play it safe. Avoid injuries. Buckle up. Wear a bike helmet. Use smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Wear sunscreen and UV protected sunglasses. Use street smarts and common sense. Practice safe sex by using condoms to protect against sexually transmitted diseases.

  6. Get checked. Get regular checkups, preventive exam, and immunizations. Do not forget self-exams, too.

  7. Don't smoke. Smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in our country.

  8. Eat smart. It is the secret to good health. Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Enjoy a variety of foods, balance foods from each food group, and exercise in moderation.

  9. Get moving. The other secret to good health: just 30 minutes of physical activity, accumulated over the course of each day, can radically improve the way you look and feel, both physically and mentally.

  10. Be happy. Take time for yourself. Get connected with family, friends, and community. Do things you enjoy!

Routine activities for women to ensure good health

These charts provide general health care guidelines for women, but are not meant to replace any advice and guidance given by your health care provider. Please use them as a reminder to take care of your personal health care needs, and also as a list of topics you may want to discuss with your health care provider.

Each Day

Each Month

Each Year


Exercise 30 minutes a day.


Have a dental checkup once or twice a year. Have vision and hearing checked annually.

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

Earlier screening is recommended if there are risk factors present for coronary artery disease.

Protect yourself from the sun - use sunscreen and dress appropriately.

Perform an oral cavity self-exam - gums, teeth, lips, tongue.

After age 50:

have a physical exam by your health care provider.

have a yearly clinical breast exam

Before age 50:

have a physical exam every 3 years after age 30.

have a physical exam every 2 years after age 40.


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.

Perform a full-body self exam for unusual moles or other skin conditions. Have your health care provider examine moles annually, or immediately for suspicious growths.


Eat sources of protein such as lean or low-fat meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs, and nuts.

Be aware of your weight - check your BMI (body mass index).

Have your blood pressure and cholesterol levels checked.

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

Begin screening with a colonoscopy at age 45 in African Americans.

Eat 5 to 9 servings 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.


Beginning at age 50, get a flu shot.


Be aware of your alcohol intake.


Talk with your doctor about when you should have a mammogram and/or a clinical breast exam


Be aware of your stress level.



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



Have a pelvic exam and Pap test beginning at age 21. Talk with your health care provider about his or her recommendations for further testing and screening for the human papillomavirus, or HPV.*

After age 65: get the pneumococcal vaccine; also recommended for those younger than 65 who have medical problems such as heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, kidney disorders, sickle cell anemia, and other chronic conditions, or for those who work or live in high-risk areas.

* The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that women have their first Pap test at age 21. Women ages 21 to 29 should have a Pap test every 3 years. Women 30 and older are recommended to have co-testing every 5 years, and cytology and HPV every 3 years. It's reasonable to discontinue screening for cervical cancer in women age 65 and over after receiving negative prior screening tests if there  is no history of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN) 2+ within the last 20 years. After screening has been discontinued, it should not be resumed, even if a woman has multiple sexual partners.