Women's Healthcare 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 physician 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 physician 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 doctor 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 doctor know if you use any illicit or "recreational" drugs. If you have any questions about possible side effects, call your doctor 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.

  6. Get checked. Get regular checkups, preventive examinations, and immunizations. Do not forget self-examinations, 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 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 healthcare guidelines for women, but are not meant to replace any advice and guidance given by your physician. Please use them as a reminder to take care of your personal healthcare needs, and also as a list of topics you may want to discuss with your physician.

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.

After age 20: every 5 years have a full lipid profile test for cholesterol and triglycerides.

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

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

After age 50:

have a physical examination by your physician.

Before age 50:

have a physical examination every 3 years after age 30.

have a physical examination every 2 years after age 40.


Watch your fat intake - no more than 25 to 35 percent 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 examination for unusual moles or other skin conditions. Have your physician 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 to 10 years, OR

have a colonoscopy every 10 years.

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 55, 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 examination and Pap test beginning at age 21. Talk with your doctor 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 21-29 should have a Pap test every 2 years. Women 30 and older who have had three consecutive negative Pap Tests may be screened every 3 years if they don't have HIV, moderate or severe dysplasia, or a weakened immune system. It's reasonable to discontinue screening after three or more consecutive negative Pap tests and no abnormal results within the last 10 years once a woman turns 65 or 70, unless she has specific risk factors.

© 2000-2024 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.