The Medical Tests Every Woman Needs in Their 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s

From eye exams to mammograms, here's what you really need–and when.

A lot of the day-to-day care that helps you lead a long and full life happens before anything's wrong with your health.

But according to the Department of Health and Human Services, millions of Americans don't keep up with their recommended preventive tests and screenings. Those exams can help you protect everything from your teeth to your heart to your eyes—and more.

Here are the tests and screenings recommended for women, assuming you're at average risk for different health conditions. If you're at a higher risk for any diseases, talk to a healthcare provider about an appropriate screening schedule.

Medical Exams in Your 30s

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) is an independent panel of experts that issues evidence-based guidelines on disease prevention. Here's what you should know about what the USPSTF and other agencies recommend about the medical exams you should get in your 30s.

Pap Smears

The USPSTF recommends getting a Pap smear every three years if you're 21 to 29. Also, the USPSTF recommends getting a Pap smear and human papillomavirus (HPV) test combined every five years from age 30 to 65.

A Pap smear is a test that detects abnormal changes in cervical cells that might signal pre-cancer or early cancer. HPV is a virus that can cause genital warts, and some strains may cause cervical cancer

After 30, you can continue Pap smears alone every three years. Still, the USPSTF recommends a Pap smear combined with testing for HPV. 

"If both of these are negative, you can repeat them every five years," Therese B. Bevers, MD, medical director of the Cancer Prevention Center and prevention outreach programs at MD Anderson Cancer Center, told Health. "That would apply all the way through age 65."

The American Cancer Society (ACS) also provides cervical cancer screening guidelines. The ACS recommends getting an HPV test alone every five years from age 25 to 65. Also, the ACS recommends an HPV and Pap smear co-test every five years if an HPV test alone is unavailable. Or you might get a Pap smear every three years.

Depression Screening

Since 2016, the USPSTF has recommended that all adults over 18—including those who are pregnant and postpartum—be screened for depression.

During a screening for depression, a healthcare provider will ask a set of questions. Examples of topics that a healthcare provider may ask you about include:

  • Your interest in doing things
  • If you have been feeling down, depressed, or hopeless
  • Your appetite
  • Whether you have trouble falling or staying asleep or sleeping too much

"If [patients] screen positive, we proceed with further questioning," Marie-Elizabeth Ramas, MD, medical director for GateHouse Treatment Center, told Health.

Dental Exams

The National Library of Medicine recommends visiting your dentist every six months. Your dentist can clean your teeth and check for plaque, gum disease, and other oral health problems. 

Also, as you age, your teeth can provide clues about osteoporosis that your dentist might be the first to spot. Osteoporosis typically affects people 50 and over and causes bones to weaken and fracture more easily.

Osteoporosis worsens periodontitis, which causes tooth loss. Also, the condition causes changes to the bones in your jaw that your dentist may spot on an X-ray.

Some evidence suggests that routine check-ups with your dentist may also help prevent oral or head and neck cancers from progressing.

Some people need more frequent dental exams than others. Check with a dentist about an optimal schedule for you.

Blood Pressure Screening

Blood pressure screening recommendations vary slightly among different organizations. The USPSTF suggests getting your blood pressure tested every three to five years starting at age 18. Then, you ought to have an annual test starting at age 40.

However, the USPSTF recommends getting tested more often than that if you have an increased risk for high blood pressure, like being overweight, or if the reading is on the high end of normal.

Also, in the United States, high blood pressure disproportionally affects Black people. Several social and economic factors, including distrust of healthcare providers, affect that statistic. Addressing discrimination and implicit bias in healthcare is one of the keys to properly treating high blood pressure in Black people.

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends blood pressure screenings starting at age 20. The AHA also recommends redoing the test at least once every two years unless you've been diagnosed with previous blood pressure issues or have a family history of problems.

Cholesterol Tests

A fasting lipoprotein profile or panel measures total cholesterol as well as both LDL ("bad") cholesterol and HDL ("good") cholesterol after a brief period without eating.

The AHA recommends getting a baseline panel at age 20, then repeating the test every four to six years for people at average risk of high cholesterol.

Blood Glucose Test

Blood glucose tests can help determine if your body is having trouble processing blood sugar, which can be a sign of prediabetes or diabetes. Screening methods include a fasting plasma glucose test and an A1C test.

People ages 35 to 70 who are overweight or have obesity should have their blood sugar levels checked regularly, according to the USPSTF.

Also, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends that everyone have their blood glucose tested at age 35.

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) Test

If you've never been tested for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), a sexually transmitted infection (STI), consider receiving a screening as soon as possible. Everyone between 15 and 65 should test for HIV at least once, according to the USPSTF.

But if you're at a higher risk of infection, you should receive an HIV test more often or if you think you've been exposed to the virus. Risk factors for HIV include:

  • Having vaginal or anal sex without a condom
  • Testing positive for other STIs, like syphilis, herpes, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and bacterial vaginosis
  • Using and sharing drug paraphernalia, like needles and syringes
  • Receiving injections, transfusions, or transplants with unsterile equipment
  • Accidentally being exposed to needle stick injuries

Still, there are no specific guidelines on how often screenings should occur. So, talk to a healthcare provider about what's right for you.

Additionally, all pregnant people should receive an HIV test. The virus can be transmitted to the fetus through the placenta during pregnancy. The fetus is further at risk during and after labor because HIV can spread through blood, amniotic fluid, and breast milk.

If you're pregnant and HIV-positive, there are treatment options that can help make sure the virus doesn't pass to the fetus during pregnancy. 

Hepatitis C Test

The USPSTF recommends that adults aged 18 to 79 be screened for hepatitis C (HCV) infection at least once.

Based on your risk, a healthcare provider may recommend that you receive an HCV test more often. Risk factors for HCV include:

  • Being HIV-positive
  • Using and sharing drug paraphernalia, like needles and syringes
  • Having received maintenance hemodialysis
  • Showing abnormal alanine transaminase (ALT) levels
  • Having had received a transfusion or organ transplant before July 1992
  • Healthcare providers 
  • People who were born to a parent with an HCV infection

Chlamydia and Gonorrhea Screening

Per the USPSTF, women younger than 24 who are sexually active should regularly receive chlamydia and gonorrhea screenings. 

Also, women 25 and older with risk factors for chlamydia and gonorrhea should receive regular screenings. Risk factors include:

  • Having a previous or current STI
  • Having a new or more than one sexual partner
  • Being with a sexual partner with an STI
  • Not consistently using condoms outside of a monogamous relationship
  • Having a history of transactional sex
  • Being or having been incarcerated

Intimate Partner Violence Screening

According to the USPSTF, healthcare providers should screen all women of reproductive age for intimate partner violence (IPV). IPV can include physical violence, sexual violence, stalking, and psychological aggression toward a romantic partner (former or current). Risk factors that increase the risk of IPV include:

  • Experiencing violence during childhood
  • Being young
  • Being unemployed or having economic hardships
  • Having substance use disorder
  • Having difficulties in relationships or marriages

Healthcare providers may use the following tools, which include a set of questions, to test for IPV:

  • Humiliation, Afraid, Rape, Kick (HARK)
  • Hurt/Insult/Threaten/Scream (HITS)
  • Extended Hurt/Insult/Threaten/Scream (E-HITS) 
  • Partner Violence Screen (PVS)
  • Woman Abuse Screening Tool (WAST)

If a healthcare provider detects IPV, they should refer you to support services. If you or a loved one experiences IPV, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or visit for additional resources.

Skin Exams

There are no official recommendations for skin exams. In 2016, the USPSTF concluded that there wasn't enough evidence to recommend routine visits to a dermatologist for people at average risk of skin cancer who don't have any symptoms.

The American Academy of Dermatology Association (AAD) encourages everyone to check their skin regularly, especially if skin cancer runs in their family. The AAD also recommends seeing a dermatologist if you notice any changes in your skin or abnormal moles.

Medical Exams in Your 40s

During your 40s, you should continue receiving the medical exams you regularly got during your 30s. Also, you may start regular mammograms, eye exams, and colorectal cancer screenings.

Here's what you should know about what the USPSTF and other agencies recommend about the medical exams you should get in your 40s.


There are some conflicting opinions about when and how often people should start getting mammograms to screen for breast cancer.

As of May 2023, the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends that cisgender women and people assigned female at birth get mammograms every two years beginning at age 40. This is 10 years earlier than the current guidelines.

The ACS advises that people ages 40 and 44 can choose if they want annual mammography screenings. But people ages 45 and 54 should get annual screenings, and people 55 and older can continue yearly mammograms or switch to every other year.

Additionally, the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) recommends annual mammograms starting at age 40.

Talk to a healthcare provider about your risk of breast cancer and the screening routine that makes sense for you. That may include getting a breast cancer risk assessment in your 30s.

Eye Exams

The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) recommends getting a baseline eye exam when you turn 40 to check for early signs of disease or vision changes. Age-related farsightedness usually starts in your 40s.

After your first eye exam, a healthcare provider can tell you how often to return for a repeat screening.

Once you turn 65, check your eyes every year or two to monitor for cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, and glaucoma.

Colorectal Cancer Screening

The USPSTF recommends that people at average risk for colorectal cancer start screening at age 45 and stop at age 75. Also, the USPSTF recommends selective screening for people ages 76 to 85. Also, repeat screening timing varies after your first test. 

"The frequency is going to be determined by the risk depending on precancerous polyps," explained Dr. Bevers. 

For example, if no polyps are found after a colonoscopy, you can typically wait 10 years before having another. Other testing methods require more frequent screening. In any case, it's best to talk to a healthcare provider about colorectal cancer testing and how often to repeat it.

Medical Exams in Your 50s and 60s

During your 50s and 60s, you should continue receiving the medical exams you regularly got during your 30s and 40s. Also, you may start regular lung cancer screenings, hearing checks, and bone density tests.

Here's what you should know about what the USPSTF and other agencies recommend about the medical exams you should get in your 50s.

Lung Cancer Screening

The USPSTF recommends screening for lung cancer with low-dose computed tomography for adults aged 55 to 80 who meet both of the following criteria:

  • A 20-pack-year smoking history
  • Currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years

A pack-year is a way of measuring how much someone has smoked in the past. One pack-year equals an average of one pack of cigarettes a day for a year. A 20-pack-year history is a pack a day for 20 years or two packs a day for 10 years, for example.

Hearing Check

In the United States, about one in three people between 65 and 74 have hearing loss to some degree. As many as 50% of people older than 75 have difficulty hearing. Still, the USPSTF advises that there is no clear evidence to recommend screening for hearing loss.

However, "routine hearing screenings may reduce the prevalence of under-diagnosed and under-treated hearing loss in adults," according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).

If you suspect you don't hear as well as you used to, ask a healthcare provider about screening.


Bone Density Test

Bone density tests screen for osteoporosis. Those tests can measure whether you have a bone condition or are at risk of developing one. One of the most common tests is dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA or DEXA).

The USPSTF suggests osteoporosis screening for all women aged 65 or older. But you may want to get one earlier than that if you have risk factors, such as long-term steroid use.

A Quick Review

Staying up-to-date on your regular check-ups and screening tests can be a valuable tool for protecting your health. Preventative health services can catch illnesses before they advance.

Still, some people are at a higher risk for some diseases than others due to family history or lifestyle risk factors. So, it's essential to communicate with a healthcare provider about the tests suitable for you and how often you should receive them. 

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