(HealthDay News) — The use of estrogen-progestin has varied over the past 40 years, peaking in the 1990s and declining in the early 2000s, according to a study published online September 8 in Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Patricia I. Jewett, from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and colleagues integrated data on oral estrogen-progestin use from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (1999–2010) with data from the National Prescription Audit (1970–2003). Long-term trends in estrogen-progestin prevalence were estimated for 1970–2010.

The researchers found that the estimated prevalence of oral estrogen-progestin was below 0.5% in the 1970s and began to rise in the early 1980s. Between 1990 and the late 1990s the estimated prevalence almost tripled. For women aged 45–64 years, the age-adjusted prevalence peaked at 13.5% in 1999, with highest use among women aged 57 years (23.3%). In the early 2000s, the prevalence of estrogen-progestin use declined dramatically, with use estimated at 2.7% for women aged 45–64 years in 2010, comparable to prevalence in the mid-1980s.

“The dramatic rise and fall of estrogen-progestin use over the past 40 years provides an illuminating case study of prescription practices before, during, and after the development of evidence regarding benefits and harms,” the authors write.

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