Recommended health-checks for women

June 05, 2023 - 09:12


Dr Olga Sambolska. — Photo courtesy of Family Medical Pratice

by Dr Olga Sambolska*

Regular health check-ups can detect diseases at an early stage and successfully treat them. Many women wonder what tests should be done throughout their lives.

Here’s an overview of recommended tests and vaccinations, as a general guide towards a healthy life. Talk to your doctors regarding your particular needs and personalised recommendations.

Cervical cancer

From 21 years old, women should screen for cervical cancer. This is done by a pap smear and should be repeated every three years. Ideally it is done together with a HPV test. The human papillomavirus can be spread by sexual contact and infect genitals, anus, mouth and throat. There is no treatment available for this viral infection, but it can be prevented by vaccinations, that can be done to up to the age of 25 years or even up to 30.

If the pap smear is done together with the HPV test (so called ‘co-test’), then it should be repeated only every five years in case of normal results.

STI and infectious diseases

The standard recommendation is to have everybody between 15 and 65 years old have one HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) test.  Another test for HCV (hepatitis C) should also be done at least once between 18 and 79.  Additionally both tests should be repeatedly done during each pregnancy to prevent maternal to new-born transmission.

Chlamydia and Gonorrhoea

All women under 25 should be tested annually, but also people who have new partners or are in risk groups. This test is important because both infections can stay asymptomatic for a long time, thus spreading infections to new partners. They can also lead to serious complications like PID (pelvic inflammatory disease) or infertility.

Breast cancer

From the age of 40, a yearly mammography is recommended. Or at least once every two years on case of normal results and without family history. Recommendations vary from country to country.  Mammography may detect breast tumors too small to be felt or not causing other symptoms.  

Women with a family history of breast cancer should start screening earlier than the age when their relatives were diagnosed with cancer. In some cases, mammography can be done together with breast ultrasound. With family history of breast cancer discuss with your doctor to see if genetic testing is required which helps quantify the risk even more.

Cholesterol screening

Coronary heart diseases is a leading cause of death for both men and women. Women should start screening for cholesterol at the age of 40 or at the age of 30 in case of known risk factors. The test screens for LDL (‘bad’ cholesterol), HDL (‘good’ cholesterol), total cholesterol and triglycerides.

Colorectal cancer

Recent guidelines recommend to start scanning at the age of 45 for anyone with an average risk of colorectal cancer. Colonoscopy should be performed once every ten years, unless there is a family history or personal risks factors like inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease.. ) or polyps.  

In case colonoscopy is not available, Faecal Immunochemical Testing (FIT) can be performed to check for occult blood in the faeces. FIT should be done annually.


All women aged 65 and older should undergo a bone densitometry every two years. It is also recommended for menopausal women with risk factors like bone loss, history of bone fracture, severe obesity or family history of osteoporosis. 


Screening for diabetes type 2 or prediabetes should be done from the age of 40 (if there are no known risk factors). This should be done every three years, and may prevent prediabetes to develop further. During each pregnancy all women complete a special glucose test OGTT (oral glucose tolerance test) for gestational diabetes to prevent many maternal and foetal complications.

Blood pressure

Blood pressure should be measured in the doctor’s office every year by adults 18-39 years who are not at higher risk for hypertension.  Over 40s an annual screening is recommended.


Apart from health checks, vaccines can prevent many diseases.   Commonly needed vaccines include tetanus – diphtheria – pertussis, hepatitis, varicella and HPV. The HPV vaccine is recommended for the 12 to 26 year olds, both male and female, to prevent cancer caused by HPV infection. Administration depends on your personal situation and should be discussed with your doctor.  The flu vaccine can be administered yearly. — Family Medical Practice

*Dr Olga Sambolska graduated from Lviv National Medical University in 1996 and commenced her medical career at the Volyn Regional Maternity Hospital in Ukraine. Since 1998 she has been a registered obstetrics and gynecology doctor, providing healthcare to women in relation to pregnancy, birth control, menopausal issues, contraception, menstrual cycle diseases and sexually transmitted diseases. She is fluent in Ukrainian, Russian, Polish and English.  

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