Bio-identical Hormone Replacement Therapy

Most women associate hormone replacement therapy (HRT) with menopause, but it actually has many more uses to correct hormone concerns that arise throughout a lifetime. Naturopathic and functional medicine doctors use a special class of hormone replacement therapy, called bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT), to treat not only menopausal women, but, also perimenopause, fertility, PMS, PCOS, anxiety, insomnia, and even men who are having issues with low testosterone.

Bioidentical hormones are derived and modified from natural sources, such as the Wild Mexican Yam, and are structurally identical to the hormones our bodies naturally produce. Therefore, we can expect similar results from them.

Bioidentical hormones differ from synthetic hormone replacement therapy in several ways. Synthetic hormones are chemically foreign from the hormones we produce, so, they often behave a little differently than our natural hormones. One significant difference is that synthetic hormones have been shown to bind more tightly to the receptors in our bodies, which makes the receptors work overtime and have a much more potent effect, sometimes more than what we want.

A good example of synthetic hormones hijacking the normal processes of the body is birth control. Hormonal birth control is made up of synthetic hormones that bind very tightly to the body’s estrogen and progesterone receptors and “trick” the body into thinking it’s pregnant. This can happen even in relatively low doses. In this way, we can use the synthetic hormones to our benefit for family planning, but, we don’t necessarily need this effect in our hormone balance regime.

Bioidentical hormone therapy offers several options for delivery and personalization. Bioidentical hormones are often compounded, which provides more flexibility in customized dosing and delivery form for your personal needs. The forms of bioidentical hormone therapy generally include transdermal cream or gel, lozenges, capsules, or suppositories.

Some benefits of bHRT include:

  • Lowers cholesterol and increases HDL (the good fat)
  • Maintains collagen in our skin and connective tissues
  • Improve cognition and protect brain tissue
  • Improve sleep
  • Improve mood and alleviate anxiety
  • Mitigate thermal regulation (warm rushes and hot flashes)
  • Improves cardiovascular health
  • Stabilizes bone health

At Hill Park Integrative Medical Center, we have several doctors who specialize in the prescription of bioidentical hormones for many different clinical applications. We treat both according to symptoms and labs and have had great success in hormone treatments across many patient populations, including reproductive age women, men, fertility, and post/perimenopausal women.

We don’t think that bioidentical hormone therapy is the only hormone balance regime – there are many solutions to hormone imbalance with the use of herbal medicine, targeted nutrient therapy, acupuncture, and many other resources. For moderate to severe concerns, bioidentical hormones can be very effective, especially in combination with other natural therapies, to correct hormone balance and are safe when applied correctly by an experienced doctor.

Understanding Perimenopause

Information about Perimenpause

Perimenopause is the window of time before menopause, which can be as long as a decade or more of changes prior to having a last period. The symptoms of perimenopause are often totally unrecognized by the general medical community, even though it is a time when women are seeking the most medical care. The hormonal fluctuations during this time influence change in our physical, mental, and emotional health that can significantly alter a woman’s sense of well-being as well as her relationships.

Many women are quite familiar with the symptoms of perimenopause: changes in her menstrual cycle: either heavier/lighter flow or more irregular than they have been, hot flashes or “warm rushes”, brain fog, difficulty losing weight, night sweats, joint pain, tendonitis, vaginal discomfort during intercourse, anxiety, depression, fatigue, palpitations, emotional lability, loss of libido, and a whole lot more.

One of the more challenging issues of perimenopause is that our brain can become like a “sieve” where words and tasks are easily lost, making multi-tasking a really difficult course of the day, at one of the busiest times of our lives.

Stress plays a significant role in the early onset and rapid progression of perimenopause. It is common that women will have hormone imbalance due to chronic stress while entering perimenopause, possibly worsening the symptoms and adding momentum to the process, which can have a negative impact on our fertility, and overall health.

Along with the overt symptoms, there are risks to the decline in hormones: bone thinning and osteoporosis, alzheimer’s disease, insulin resistance/diabetes, high blood pressure, and arthritis. This is an important window of time to examine a personalized “risk reduction” approach to hormone fluctuations such as family history or existing conditions so that the transition toward menopause does not have a cost on the decades of health ahead.

While some women are just moderately inconvenienced by these symptoms, they can be quite severe for other women. Often times the medical messaging is to just “live with it”, but this is pretty dated, and frankly… not sufficient. There are many treatment options that integrative medicine and naturopathic doctors offer to effectively balance hormone fluctuations and minimize symptoms while not interrupting the natural process of perimenopause.

Women have been finding their own medicines to balance their health since the beginning of time, but sometimes we need help when our own approach is not quite enough, or uncertain. After a detailed medical interview, if necessary, one of our doctors can help to test your hormones levels, along with thyroid and adrenal hormone levels, or any additional tests that may be important for you. We can then formulate a treatment course that will be personalized to your symptoms, hormone balance, and overall wellness.

Perimenopause and hormone health can be a smooth, safe, and even enjoyable experience with the support of nutrition, herbal medicine, bioidentical hormone therapy, self-care, acupuncture, and an experienced doctor to help find the right course for you. Contact us at 707-861-7300 to reach out to the office staff.

Introducing Dr. Michaela Falkner, ND

Dr. Michaela Falkner is an integrative general medicine doctor with a focus on complex cases and autoimmunity. After completing her Naturopathic Doctorate from Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine (SCNM) in Tempe, Arizona, she was selected as one of five national candidates to complete a prestigious family medicine residency at SCNM. During both her degree program and residency, she focused much of her education on caring for complex cases and autoimmune diseases.

After completion of her residency, Dr. Falkner moved into the Bay Area to start practice and enjoy the beautiful abundance our region offers. Her practice continues to be focused on autoimmunity and chronic illness, though she also specializes in the treatment of hormone balance for thyroid, adrenal, and sex hormone dysfunction. She has a unique literacy in digestive health and uses a multifaceted approach in healing gastrointestinal disorders, normalizing the immune system, and symptom management.

Dr. Falkner appreciates that autoimmunity is becoming more widespread in the population due to the increase in chemicals in our environment and knows that naturopathic medicine fills a niche that has yet to be addressed well by conventional treatments. She believes the core of immunity begins in the gut and often approaches autoimmunity by addressing the digestive system, along with managing symptoms, protecting from future risks, and normalizing the immune system.

As an adjunct to her autoimmune treatment protocols, Dr. Falkner specializes in Neuro-Emotional Technique (NET). NET is a form of physical medicine that helps the body to reduce the impact of stress, as well as its consequent health concerns. She finds this modality is uniquely quick and effective in reducing stress, situational and general anxiety, and phobias, among several other concerns. She often combines NET with homeopathy, herbs, and lifestyle techniques proven to reduce stress for optimal outcomes. Dr. Falkner finds trigger point injections for pain associated with stress to be quite effective in extending treatment benefit and has even developed her own neural therapy technique to interrupt patterns that negatively affect health.

Dr. Falkner has extensive experience in nutritional medicine, intravenous and intramuscular vitamin infusions. She enjoys personalizing nutrient shots and IVs to the patient’s needs and you will probably see her in the IV room and helping out with the nutrient shot clinics. She is also passionate about herbal medicine and known for her thoughtful and comprehensive individualized care.

Dr. Falkner is excited and eager to get to know the patients of Hill Park Medical Center and offers complimentary 15 minute consults as an introduction to her practice. Please call 707-861-7300 to schedule a consult with her!