Women’s Health Examinations and Immunizations

BASIC INFORMATION
DESCRIPTION

  • An annual overall physical examination for healthy adults for all ages is no longer recommended by most medical experts. However, there are certain periodic screening tests recommended for healthy women based on risk factors and preventive services. Counseling about lifestyle and health is considered an important part of a periodic exam. Your doctor will probably discuss health-related behaviors such as smoking cessation, alcohol use, contraception (if appropriate), eating habits and weight problems, exercise programs, sexual activity (to assess risk of sexually transmitted diseases) and seat belt use.
  • Vaccine-preventable diseases cause needles sickness and death in adults. Many women are not aware that they need immunizations or they are not sure about their immunization history. In addition, women are sometimes concerned about possible adverse reactions to immunizations.

SCREENING TESTS FOR PERIODIC EXAMINATIONS
IN HEALTHY WOMEN
AGE 18-39 (CHILDBEARING YEARS):

  • Height and weight.
  • Blood pressure.
  • Nonfasting total blood cholesterol (every 5 years).
  • Clinical breast exam (every 1 to 3 years).
  • Pelvic exam and Pap smear (every 1 to 3 years).
  • Dental exam (every 6 to 12 months).

AGE 40-64 (MIDDLE YEARS)

  • Height and weight.
  • Blood pressure.
  • Clinical breast examination (yearly).
  • Nonfasting total blood cholesterol level (every 5 years).
  • Pelvic exam and Pap smear (annually).
  • Digital rectal examination (annually).
  • Sigmoidoscopy (every 3 to 5 years after age 50).
  • Mammogram (every 1 to 3years beginning at age 35).
  • Oral activity examination (every 1 to 3 years).
  • Dental exam (every 6 to 12 months).

AGE 65 AND OVER (SENIOR YEARS)

  • Height and weight.
  • Blood pressure.
  • Visual acuity.
  • Hearing and hearing aids.
  • Clinical breast examination (yearly for women until age 75, unless an abnormality is detected).
  • Oral cavity examination (every 1 to 3 years).
  • Dipstick urinalysis.
  • Sigmoidoscopy (every 3 to 5 years).
  • Nonfasting total blood cholesterol level (every 4 years).
  • Mammogram (every 1 to 2 years until age 75, unless abnormality detected).
  • Dental exam (every 6 to 12 months).

RECOMMENDED IMMUNIZATIONS

  • Tetanus-diphtheria booster (once between ages 14 to 16, then a booster every 10 years).
  • Influenza vaccine-below age 65, depends on chronic diseases or occupational exposure; annually if over age 65.
  • Pneumococcal vaccine-below age 65, depends on chronic diseases or special conditions; over 65, needed only one time.
  • Rubella vaccine-once, for women of childbearing age without proof of immunity.
  • Hepatitis B vaccine-once, for women in health care occupations or working with blood, intravenous drug users, those having multiple sexual partners or having sex with a hepatitis B-infected person.
  • HIV patients should be evaluated for all immunizations.

OTHER TESTS THAT MAY BE RECOMMENDED FOR WOMEN WITH RISK FACTORS

  • Skin exam – for excessive skin exposure to sun or precancerous skin changes.
  • Blood test for hemoglobin – heavy menstrual periods; women of Caribbean, Latin American, Asia, Mediterranean or African descent.
  • Urine test for infection – diabetes mellitus.
  • Sexually transmitted disease (STD) tests – for women having sex with multiple partners or a partner with multiple partners; sexual contact with a person who has or has had an STD.
  • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) – women being treated for anther STD, intravenous drug user, women having current or past sexual activity with an HIV positive person or one who injects drugs.
  • Genetic testing – women of reproductive age with risk factors.
  • Tuberculosis (TB) skin test – infection with HIV, living or working with someone with TB or other risk factors for TB exposure.
  • Blood test of type of lipids (cholesterol) – women with high cholesterol count, having a close relative with high cholesterol count, diabetes mellitus, smoking, family history of heart disease.
  • Mammogram – women below age 35 years if mother or sister has been diagnosed with breast cancer.
  • Fasting blood glucose (sugar) test – family history of diabetes mellitus, being very overweight, having had diabetes in pregnancy.
  • Thyroid-stimulating hormone test (for thyroid function)- family history of thyroid disease, having an autoimmune disease (such as rheumatoid arthritis).
  • Colonoscopy – personal history of inflammatory bowel disease or polyps in the colon, family history of colon cancer.