Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination is recommended for all girls (and boys) for protection from types of HPV that can cause cancers, such as cervical cancer, and genital warts.**
Start annual visits with your gynecologist. Your doctor will also perform a breast exam every one to three years.
Get a Pap test every three years. This allows your gynecologist to look for changes in your cervix that may require treatment.
HPV testing may be included with your Pap tests. If you have normal results, you only need to have a Pap test every five years.
Start getting mammograms every year. This screening looks for signs of breast cancer at an early, treatable stage. An annual breast exam by your gynecologist is also recommended.***
Colon cancer screening (for example, with a colonoscopy) can detect cancer at an early stage, when it is easier to treat. It is recommended that women start screening at age 50, and African American women earlier, at 45.
A bone mineral density scan checks for osteoporosis. Also, talk to your doctor about whether you need to continue having Pap tests.
Speak with your doctor about whether you still need to have mammograms and colon cancer screening. For some women, it might make sense to stop these tests.
If you are sexually active, talk to your doctor about screening for sexually transmitted diseases, family planning and birth control options.
If you might become pregnant, taking a folic acid supplement or prenatal vitamin with 400 to 800 micrograms of folic acid or folate will help protect against birth defects.
Talk to your doctor about your mental and emotional health. Hormone changes associated with the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, postpartum period and perimenopause can affect your mood.
Eat a healthy diet, exercise and maintain a healthy weight. This reduces your risk of many health problems including cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
*The timeline above focuses on concerns your gynecologist would typically address, and the recommendations are based on average-risk women. If you are at higher risk for certain problems (for example, if you have had abnormal Pap tests or family history of certain cancers), your doctor may recommend that you start testing at an earlier age, or that you repeat a test more frequently. In addition to your gynecologist, it is important to have a primary care doctor, who may also recommend screening for high cholesterol, diabetes, thyroid disease or other health issues. **The vaccine can be administered from ages 9 through 45, so talk to your doctor if you have not received it. ***Mammogram recommendations vary among medical organizations.