Vanderbilt Center for Women's Health

Annual Exams for Women


AGE 18 — 39

Pelvic exam and Pap smear

  • Screening should start within 3 years after first having vaginal intercourse or by age 21.
  • Beginning at age 21, women should have a pelvic exam and Pap smear every 2 years to check for cervical cancer.
  • If you are over age 30 or your Pap smears have been negative for 3 times in a row, your doctor may tell you that you only need a Pap smear every 3 years.
  • Women who have had a total hysterectomy (uterus and cervix removed) may choose not to have Pap smears.
  • Women who are sexually active should be screened for chlamydia infection. This can be done during a pelvic exam.

Breast exams

  • Women may do a monthly breast self-exam.
  • Women should contact their health care provider immediately if they notice a change in their breasts, whether or not they do breast self-exams.
  • A complete breast exam should be done by a health care provider every 3 years for women age 20-40.
     


AGE 40 — 65

Pelvic exam and Pap smear

  • Pap smears should be done once every 2 years.
  • Pelvic exams may be done more often to check for other disorders.
  • If your Pap smears have been normal for 3 times in a row, your doctor may tell you that you only need a Pap smear to every 3 years.
  • Women who have had a total hysterectomy (uterus and cervix removed) may choose not to have Pap smears.
  • Women who are sexually active should be screened for chlamydia infection. This can be done during a pelvic exam.
     

Breast exams

  • Women may do a monthly breast self-exam.
  • Women should contact their doctor immediately if they notice a change in their breasts, whether or not they do self exams.
  • A complete breast exam should be done by a health care provider every year.
     

Mammograms

  • Women over the age of 40 should have a mammogram done every 1-2 years depending on risk factors to check for breast cancer.

Osteoporosis screening

  • All postmenopausal women with fractures should have a bone density test (DEXA scan).
  • Women under 65 who have risk factors for osteoporosis should be screened.
     


AGE 65 AND OLDER

 

Pelvic exam and Pap smear

  • After age 65-70, most women can stop having Pap smears as long as they have had three negative tests within the past 10 years.
  • Women should have a yearly pelvic exam and Pap smear done to check for cervical cancer and other disorders.
  • If your Pap smears have been negative for 3 years in a row, your doctor may tell you that you only need a Pap smear to every 2 - 3 years.
  • Women who have had a total hysterectomy (uterus or cervix removed) may choose not to have Pap smears.
  • If you are over 70 and your Pap smear has been normal for 10 years, or if your test results have been normal for 3 years in a row, you may choose not to have any more Pap smears.

Breast exams

  • Women may do a monthly breast self-exam.
  • Women should contact their doctor immediately if they notice a change in their breasts, whether or not they do self exams.
  • A complete breast exam should be done by a health care provider every year.

Mammograms

  • Women should have a mammogram done every 1-2 years depending on risk factors to check for breast cancer.

Osteoporosis screening

  • All women should have a bone density test (DEXA scan).
  • Ask your doctor about the proper calcium intake and exercise needed to help prevent osteoporosis.

 


 

 

 

 

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