Women’s Healthcare Guidelines

Women’s Healthcare Guidelines

Portrait of woman sitting in chair.

The National Women’s Health
Information Center (NWHIC) offers these 10 things you can do for better health:

  1. Be informed. Learn about health
    promotion and disease prevention. Ask your healthcare provider for specific
    information about your needs.

  2. Be good to your bones. For
    healthy bones, be sure to get calcium every day with plenty of foods and drinks that
    have it. This includes milk and dairy foods, tofu, leafy greens, canned salmon or
    sardines, and juices or breads with added calcium. Ask your healthcare provider if
    you need calcium supplements.

  3. Don’t use illegal drugs and limit
    For women, the definition of moderate drinking is 1 drink a day. The
    National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines a drink as 1 5-ounce glass
    of wine, 1 12-ounce bottle of beer or wine cooler, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof
    distilled spirits. Keep in mind that the alcohol content of each type of drink can
    vary. For illegal drugs, there is no safe or moderate use.

  4. Take medicine wisely. Read the
    labels and follow the instructions carefully. Tell your healthcare provider or
    pharmacist about any other medicines or supplements you are taking. This is because
    they could change the effects of your medicines. For your safety and to lower your
    risk for side effects or interactions, tell your healthcare provider if you use
    any illegal or recreational drugs. If you have any questions about side effects,
    call your healthcare provider or pharmacist.

  5. Play it safe. Prevent injuries.
    Use your seatbelt. Wear a helmet when you ride a motorcycle or bicycle. Use smoke and
    carbon monoxide detectors at home. Wear sunscreen and sunglasses with UV protection.
    Use street smarts and common sense. Practice safe sex by using condoms to protect
    against sexually transmitted infections.

  6. Get checked. Get regular
    checkups, exams, and vaccines. Don’t forget self-exams, too. These include skin,
    oral, and breast self-checks.

  7. Don’t smoke. Smoking is the
    leading preventable cause of death in the U.S.

  8. Eat smart. Eat plenty of fruits,
    vegetables, and whole grains. Enjoy a variety of foods from each food group, and eat
    sensible portions.

  9. Get moving. Get 30 minutes of
    physical activity over the course of each day. It can greatly improve the way you
    look and feel.

  10. Be happy. Take time for
    yourself. Connect with family, friends, and your community. Do things you enjoy!

Maintaining good health

This chart shows general healthcare
guidelines for women. But is not meant to replace any advice from your healthcare
provider. Please use it as a reminder to take care of your personal health needs. And
use it as a list of topics you may want to talk about with your healthcare provider.

Each day Each month Each year Other

Exercise 30 minutes a day.

Do an oral cavity self-exam, gums, teeth, lips, tongue

Have a dental checkup once or twice a year. Have vision and hearing checked annually.

Ask your healthcare
provider if you need an annual exam.

Protect yourself
from the sun. Use sunscreen and wear clothes that protect your skin from

Do a full-body
self-exam for moles or other skin conditions. Have your healthcare
provider look at moles every year, or right away for new or changed

Have a pelvic exam
and Pap test starting at age 21.Talk with your healthcare provider about
his or her advice for other testing and screening for the human
papillomavirus (HPV).*

Women starting at
age 45 at average risk: :

  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years, or
  • Colonoscopy every 10 years, or
  • CT colonography (virtual colonoscopy) every 5
    years, or
  • Yearly fecal occult blood test, or
  • Yearly fecal immunochemical test every year,
  • Stool DNA test, every 3 years

If you choose a test other than a colonoscopy and have an abnormal test
result, you will need to follow-up with a colonoscopy. Screening advice
varies among expert groups. Talk with your healthcare provider about which
tests are best for you.

Some people should be screened
using a different schedule because of their personal or family health
history. Talk with your healthcare provider about your health

Watch your fat intake – no more than 25 % to 35% of your calorie intake. Most fats should come from sources of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids, such as fish, nuts, and vegetable oils.

Be aware of your weight, check your BMI (body mass index)

 Have your blood pressure and cholesterol levels checked

Starting at age 45: every 5 years have a full lipid profile test for cholesterol and triglycerides.

Earlier screening is
advised if you have risk factors for coronary artery disease.

Eat sources of protein such as lean or low-fat meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs, and nuts.

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.

Talk with your
healthcare provider about when you should have a mammogram.

Get pneumococcal and
shingles vaccines. Ask your healthcare provider if any other vaccines are
needed or if vaccine advice has changed.

After age 65:  Get
the pneumococcal vaccine. This is also advised for people under age 65
who have health problems that increase the risk for serious problems and

Be aware of your alcohol intake and stress level.

Get a flu shot.

 Get a tetanus/diphtheria (td) booster every 10 years

* The American Congress of
Obstetricians and Gynecologists advises that women have their first Pap test at age 21.
Women ages 21 to 29 should have a Pap test every 3 years. Women 30 and older are advised
to have the Pap test plus cytology and HPV every 5 years, or cytology every 3 years.
It’s okay to stop screening for cervical cancer in women age 65 and over who have had no
positive screening tests and no history of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN) 2+
in the last 20 years. After screening has been stopped, it should not be resumed. This
is the case even if a woman has multiple sexual partners.