'I went through menopause aged 15 and was too embarrassed to talk about it'

Sheree Hargreaves welcomes innovative products launched by two Scottish entrepreneurs to break the stigma around early menopause.

Scots women in their 20s create ‘safe and inclusive’ menopause care brand to help manage symptoms Sheree Hargreaves via Instagram

A woman diagnosed with primary ovarian insufficiency (POI) aged 15 has hailed the work of two Scottish entrepreneurs creating luxury products to help people manage the first signs of menopause.

Sheree Hargreaves, now 23, says not being able to see herself in the “menopause space” made her feel worse about her diagnosis.

But she says brands like GLORIAH – launched by Jessica Watson and Isla Telfer – help take away the “negativity” when they talk about menopause inclusively.

Ms Watson and Ms Telfer, both 28, created the brand after their close friend was chemically induced into the menopause in her mid-twenties.

They have now received £80,000 in funding for their “empowering” menopause care brand.

Ms Hargreaves said: “I walked out of the doctors with a prescription slip in one hand and a leaflet with two older women in the other.

“The lack of representation worsens any negative feelings around your diagnosis – you feel like you’re in the wrong body, you ask why is it happening to me and what did I do wrong?”

Musselburgh NHS nurse, Isla, who co-founded GLORIAH alongside her friend said there was an “urgent” need for products that can help with symptoms of menopause.

“There just wasn’t a lot out there, and the designs were largely medical,” she said. “Early menopause makes up 10% of all menopause cases, so that’s an unspoken market even if it’s a buzzword at the moment,” the co-founder said.

Jessica, a marketing executive from Leith, believes the stigma surrounding menopause needs to be “broken” as more people are entering menopause early.

She said: “More and more people are entering menopause early. Whether it’s through surgical menopause, POI, Endometriosis, they share one thing in common – a lack of recognition by professionals, friends, family, and society.”

Isla Telfer and Jessica Watson.Supplied

The brand has also created a “safe and inclusive” community that shares education and empowers other people through the transition.

With the £80,000 from Scottish EDGE funding, the brand is set for major growth to help more women like Ms Hargreaves who was diagnosed at 15-years-old but began experiencing symptoms earlier than that.

Ms Hargreaves added: “Vaginal dryness is a common symptom of menopause and something I struggled with, so much so that I couldn’t sit down for long periods of time, and it even hurt to wear tights.

“I put up with this symptom for so many reasons – partly because I was too embarrassed to talk about it with a doctor or anyone.

“These products don’t seem out of place among my things, it’s just like a moisturiser for your face, and it takes away that embarrassment.

“When you’re in a hospital environment and see doctors all the time there’s a lot of medicalisation of the female body.

“You hear things like premature ovarian failure, those words perpetuate you’re a woman who has failed to be a woman – that’s really hard to escape.”

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