Women’s Health Cheat Sheet

Not sure when to get what checked out? Use this chart to make sure you’re up to date with your preventative check-ups.

 

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Despite working in health care and advising patients to get routine screenings and check-ups, 25 percent of nurses are not staying on top of their own health screenings, according to the American Nurses Association’s 2016 Health Risk Appraisal. Reasons for this include feeling overwhelmed, putting the care of patients and family members before themselves, and confusion about what age certain tests are needed.
 
“Nurses often have the mentality that ‘no news is good news,’ but intellectually we know that’s not true. Many diseases are manageable with early intervention,” says Brenda Murdough, a PACU nurse at Duke University Hospital and a 36-year veteran.
 
The annual physical under review
In the past, most physicians recommended yearly physical exams, but recently The American Medical Association altered that recommendation. “If you’re a healthy individual, with no health conditions or family history, you can get a physical every two to three years,” advises Toni Melvin, MS, CRRN, NP-C, an Adult Nurse Practitioner for Veterans Affairs. “If you have concerns or any issues, then going yearly is best.”
 
Getting specific exams and preventative screenings from specialized providers is crucial to preventing disease and helping nurses to live longer, healthier lives.
 
A Health Cheat Sheet for Women
Not sure when to get what checked out? Use this chart to make sure you’re up to date with your preventative check-ups. Please check with your provider if you have special health issues to consider.

Download and print this Women’s Health Cheatsheet for easy reference on when women need to get checkups and screenings. 
 

Screening Type When To Get It Special Considerations
Dental Exam The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends going at least once per year for an exam and cleaning, starting in childhood. The ADA suggests talking to your dentist to determine if you need to go more often.
Eye Exam The American Optometric Association recommends a vision test with an optometrist or ophthalmologist every two years after the age of 18. Children should be tested more frequently.
Physical Every two to three years for adults ages 18 – 40, and every one to two years thereafter, if you have no health conditions nor a family history of any issues, suggests Melvin. Melvin adds that if you take regular prescription medications, your health care provider is likely to want to see you more often.
Diabetes Screening Every three years, beginning at the age of 45, according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA). Talk to your health care provider about getting screened more often if you’re overweight or at risk for diabetes.
Blood Pressure Test At least once every two years, starting at 20, according to the American Heart Association (AHA).
 
If you have blood pressure higher than 120/80, both the AHA and CDC suggest talking to your health care provider about getting checked more frequently.
 
HIV/STD Tests USPSTF recommends yearly screenings from the ages of 15 to 65.
 
 
Cholesterol Screening If you are 20 or older and have not been diagnosed with cardiovascular disease, the AHA recommends having your cholesterol levels checked every four to six years as part of a cardiovascular risk assessment. If you have diabetes, heart disease, kidney problems, or other conditions, you may need to be checked more frequently. In those cases, talk to your provider.
Pap Test According to the Department of Health and Human Services, women between the ages of
21 – 29, should get a Pap test every three years.
30 or older? Get a Pap test and HPV test together every five years.
Over 65? Check with your doctor.
 
Mammogram Begin annual mammograms between the ages of 40 – 44. Women aged 45 – 50 need one every year and women 55 and older, every two years, according to the American Cancer Society.  
Colorectal Cancer Screening USPSTF recommends screening 
for colorectal cancer beginning at 50 and continuing until 75.

 

If you are at high risk of colon cancer based on family history or other factors, you may need to be screened using a different schedule.

 
Additional resources can be found at the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Women’s Preventive Services Guidelines and CDC webpages on Check-Ups.
 
It’s easy to forget to make appointments for routine screenings. Use these ideas to help you stay on top of them.

  • At the end of one visit, schedule the next one. Even if your appointment is two years later, your health care provider’s office can add it to their calendar and give you a call when the appointment is approaching.
  • Use important dates as reminders. Anderson tells her patients to take stock of their screenings on their birthday each year. She suggests couples use their anniversary as a time to take stock of their health.
  • Sign up for text message alerts or the email list of your health care providers. They’ll frequently notify you when you’re due for another screening or visit.
  • Take advantage of pharmacies that offer screenings. Many have a blood pressure machine that you can use while you wait for a prescription. Pharmacies nationwide are adding more and more offerings.
  • Utilize hospital or community health fairs. Many offer screenings free of charge and on the spot.

  
Find this information helpful? Have you seen our Men’s Health Cheat Sheet? Share them with a nurse you know on 
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Source List:
All About Vision. Eye Exam Cost And When To Have An Eye Exam.
American Cancer Society. Guidelines for the Early Detection of Cancer. 
CDC. Check-Ups. 
Medline Plus. Health Screening – Women Ages 18-39.
US DHHS. Office on Women’s Health. National Women’s Health Week. 
US News & World Reports. 
The Annual Physical: Do You Need a Yearly Exam?
US Preventative Services Task Force. USPSTF A & B Recommendations.

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