Women's Health 101
In the United States, there are more 147 million women, comprising over half of the total population. Nearly 30 percent are racial and ethnic minorities.
Poverty disproportionately affects women. Nearly 13 million women live in households with incomes below the Federal poverty level. Poor or near-poor women are more likely than high-income women to report fair or poor overall health and limitations of activity. They are also more likely to report having anxiety or depression, arthritis, asthma, diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and osteoporosis.
In 2002, eight of the 10 states with the highest stroke death rates among women were in the South. Colorado, Hawaii, and Utah had the lowest death rates for heart diseases and cancers. The states with a high proportion of women with recent mammograms and recent cholesterol screenings clustered in the Northeast.
Minority Women's Health
For detailed information on the health status of racial and ethnic minority women, click on the appropriate link below:
- Health Status of American Indian and Alaska Native Women
- Health Status of African American Women
- Health Status of Hispanic/Latina Women
- Health Status of Asian American and Pacific Islander Women
Health Screening Schedule for Women
Have a mammogram every 1 to 2 years starting at age 40. If you have a higher risk for breast cancer, such as a family history of breast cancer, talk to your health care provider about whether to have mammograms before age 40 and how often to have them. Click here to Find a free or low-cost mammogram in your state, territory, or American Indian/Alaska Native tribe.
You should also do self-breast exams starting at age 20 and continue once a month.
Have a Pap smear every 1 to 3 years if you have been sexually active or are older than 21. If you have had an abnormal Pap smear result in the past, your provider may want to screen you more frequently. In addition, talk to your health provider if you or your mother used DES (diethylstilbestrol), a synthetic form of estrogen, during pregnancy between 1940 and 1971. Scientists found a link between DES exposure before birth and an increased risk of developing abnormal cells in the tissue of the cervix and vagina. To find out more about DES, visit: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/DES.
Blood Cholesterol Screening Checks
Have your cholesterol checked regularly starting at age 45. If you smoke, have diabetes, or if heart disease runs in your family, start having your cholesterol checked at age 20.
Have your blood pressure checked at least every 2 years.
Colorectal Cancer Tests
Have a test for colorectal cancer starting at age 50. Your doctor can help you decide which test is right for you.
Have a test to screen for diabetes if you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
If you've felt "down," sad, or hopeless, and have felt little interest or pleasure in doing things for 2 weeks straight, talk to your doctor about whether he or she can screen you for depression.
Have a bone density test at age 65 to screen for osteoporosis (thinning of the bones). If you are between the ages of 60 and 64 and weigh 154 lbs. or less, talk to your doctor about whether you should be tested.
Chlamydia Tests and Tests for Other Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Have a test for chlamydia if you are 25 or younger and sexually active. If you are older, talk to your doctor to see whether you should be tested. Also, talk to your doctor to see whether you should be tested for other sexually transmitted diseases.
For more information on women's health:
National Women's Health Information Center
2004 National Healthcare Quality Report (NHQR)
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
National Center for Health Statistics
CDC Office on Women's Health