When Debbie Wheeler started suffering severe joint pain she was convinced she’d inherited rheumatoid arthritis.
And, at the age of 43, the Banchory mum was shocked to find out from her GP it was actually a symptom of early menopause.
“She did blood tests then told me that I was well into menopause,” Debbie said. “I was really quite astonished.
“It wasn’t what I was expecting. For me, and a lot of women, perimenopause creeps up on you and you don’t realise that you’re going through it.”
‘I couldn’t remember the name of my son’s school’
Debbie was prescribed high strength HRT (hormone replacement therapy) to relieve the symptoms, but her body didn’t tolerate it well.
She tried a range of treatments but, with the pain persisting, she knew she needed something more effective.
She overhauled her diet and started exercising, taking up running outdoors with friends.
Debbie also tried supplements, including sage and starflower oil, but found they still could not keep all her symptoms at bay.
“My memory was really affected by the menopause,” the holistic therapist, who is now 54, said.
“I was once in a situation when I was speaking to another mum at an event who asked what school my son was at and I couldn’t remember the name of it.
“It was awful – that’s how brain fog can affect your short term memory.”
‘My GP thought I was depressed’
Debbie’s GP suggested she might be depressed – but she just wanted her life back.
Then one of Debbie’s friends started confiding in her about her own health battles with perimenopause.
Morven Shaw, 45, of Perth, spent her high-powered career as an intellectual property lawyer working in Scotland and London.
She was working as a managing partner at a law firm when she started feeling not quite herself.
Exhaustion, brain fog, stress and anxiety seeped into her everyday life – things she had never experienced before.
‘I just wanted to feel myself again’
Frustratingly, she had just achieved the work-life balance she always wanted with a new role as a legal consultant, but felt her personality was changing.
“I felt I was losing my edge,” mum-of-three Morven said. “Everyday tasks were completely wiping me out.
“Because of that I was much more irritable with my family which I didn’t like because that’s just not my personality.
“A lot of women fall out of the workplace around this time and really high-achieving women as well because it just all gets too much.
“And I think many women perhaps don’t realise it’s because they’re peri or menopausal and they just feel overwhelmed by everything.
“I just felt like there was a cloud over me and things weren’t quite right.
“That was my driving reason for speaking to Debbie – I just wanted to feel like myself again.”
Early menopause supplement
Using Debbie’s training in holistic therapy, the pair started researching natural products to ease their symptoms.
But they were surprised to find there was no single solution on the market – and decided to make a product themselves.
They went on to launch Selaura, a supplement combining 12 ingredients to help alleviate the physical and mental symptoms of menopause.
Debbie said: “My memory and concentration are far sharper and more focused than they were.
“I was never what I would describe as an anxious person but I do feel a sense of calm and can think rationally about life in general now.
“I think my favourite benefit though above all is that I feel alive – friends have commented on the positive energy coming from me.
“Even my husband has said I’ve got a sparkle in my eyes again.”