Wise and wonderful: the mature woman

Wise and wonderful: the mature woman

Many women look and feel their best at midlife. While it’s true that your body is changing, this natural process can be your stepping-stone to a healthy future, depending on the choices you make now. Learn as much as you can about this life stage and use this knowledge to do what’s best for you. Here are some tips to get you started:


[check] Continue to be safety conscious; for example, always buckle up in the car.

[check] Use condoms to reduce risk of sexually transmitted infection.

[check] Learn the early-warning signs of heart attack and stroke in women. Call 911 immediately if you notice symptoms.

[check] Take medications exactly as prescribed, don’t use anyone else’s prescriptions and inform your health care professional and pharmacist of all medications you are taking.


[check] Eat fruits, vegetables, whole grains and complex carbohydrates such as pasta, cereal and beans daily. Consume foods containing omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, albacore tuna, walnuts and flax seed, and soy-rich foods such as tofu. Avoid foods high in saturated fat.

[check] Get between 1,000 and 1,200 mg of calcium and 400 to 800 international units (IU) of vitamin D daily (for calcium absorption). Also take B-complex vitamins to help fight osteoporosis and heart disease.

[check] Walk or do other aerobic activity on most days of the week for 30 to 60 minutes. Lift weights regularly to increase muscle strength and bone density. Talk to your doctor before beginning any exercise regime.


[check] Get checkups annually and health screenings as appropriate (see chart on page 18).

[check] Discuss any menopausal symptoms you may experience with your health care professional. Irregular menstrual periods, hot flashes, mood changes, vaginal dryness and insomnia are common symptoms. If your symptoms become overwhelming, a variety of treatment options are available. Ask your health care professional for guidance.

[check] Stay physically active and connected to friends and activities you enjoy.

[check] Quit smoking. Discuss nicotine replacement therapy products and self-help programs with your doctor.

[check] Seek a second medical opinion if you need surgery or treatment for a chronic illness.

Sources: National Women’s Health Resource Center; the National Osteoporosis Foundation; and the American Heart Association

Women’s Health Screening Guidelines

Continue preventive health screenings as you age. These guidelines are for women at low risk for conditions associated with the screenings suggested. If you are at high risk for a condition, such as diabetes, your health care professional may recommend other screening tests possibly at more frequent intervals.


Blood pressure Every two years for women over age 21; more

reading frequently if borderline-high or high blood pressure

is indicated, or if there is a history of high blood


Bone mineral Routine screenings are recommended for premenopausal

density test women who have risk factors for osteoporosis and for

all women over 65.

Breast Women ages 20 to 39 * should have their breasts

examination examined by their doctor every three years and once

a year beginning at age 40.

Cholesterol All women age 20 or older should have a fasting

check lipoprotein profile every five years or more often

if there is a family history of high cholesterol.

Colon cancer Beginning at age 50,women should have an annual

screening fecal occult blood test and a flexible sigmoidoscopy

every five years; women with a family history of

colon cancer or polyps should ask their doctor when

and how often to have screenings.

Dental Adult women should have their teeth cleaned and

checkups examined twice a year by their dentist or dental


Hearing test Between ages 18 and 49, women should have a hearing

test every 10 years; at age 50, discuss with your

doctor how often hearing tests should be done.

Mammography Women ages 40 and older should have a mammogram

Pap test every year. Get tested every year within three years

of becoming sexually active but no later than age

21. Women age 30 and older at low risk for cervical

cancer may be tested every two to three years after

three normal Pap tests in a row. At age 70 and

older, women may choose to stop Pap tests if they

have had three or more normal Pap test results in a

row and no abnormal results in the past 10 years.

Pelvic Any woman who is or has ever been sexually active

examination should have a pelvic exam every year until age 70.

Skin Visual inspection of the skin for abnormal or

examination precancerous conditions should be done every three

years between ages 20 to 40, and yearly for women

age 40 and older. Skin self-exams should also be

performed monthly.

Vision Women ages 40 to 64 should have routine eye exams

examination every two to four years; after age 65, exams should

be yearly.

* Most major medical organizations continue to support clinical

breast examination in cancer screening guidelines; however, several

organizations no longer include breast self-examination (BSE) as an

early detection strategy in their guidelines because research has not

demonstrated that BSE saves lives.

Sources: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; American Cancer

Society; American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists;

American Academy of Family Physicians; American Heart Association;

American Academy of Ophthalmology; American Geriatric Society;

American Medical Association; American Speech-Language-Hearing

Association; National Cancer Institute; National Women’s Health

Information Center, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services;

and the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force

COPYRIGHT 2005 National Women’s Health Resource Center

COPYRIGHT 2007 Gale Group