Tired of pills & powders? This startup has a delicious solution to your menstrual woes

What if we told you that the solution to your hormone-based problems is in a delightful health beverage? We spoke to Sheta Mittal, the co-founder of &Me, to know more about the idea behind their healthy FnB startup.
Tired of pills & powders? This startup has a delicious solution to your menstrual woes
The brand recently launched a 'period subscription box', that made the news for its quirky menstruation-friendly contents.&Me

More often than not, women have to combat various stressors that affect their health throughout their lives. Beginning from their early adolescent age to the time they are toiling away in their respective fields, several factors contribute to hormonal imbalance in women. However, eating right and sleeping well, more often than not, are easier said than done! There are several other peripheral factors leading up what is perhaps our biggest enemy today: hormonal imbalance.

What causes a hormonal imbalance in women?

It may seem irrational mood swings or it could be the reason why you're feeling fatigued -- hormonal imbalance is often disguised under common, day-to-day symptoms. We spoke to a gynaecologist to get a closer look at the reason behind this imbalance, and here's what they had to say:

"Nowadays, teenage girls have different kinds of stress. It can be due to peer pressure, studies, relationships and body image issues. Teenagers experience emotional changes owing to the hormonal changes in the body. These changes come in the way of coping up with the society, studies, parents, which leads to hormonal imbalance," said Dr Pratima Thamke, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist at Motherhood Hospital in Kharghar.

"Anorexia (starving) is also very common among teenagers, as they are conscious of their body image. Excessive snacking on wrong foods, bulimia, are some eating disorders seen in teenagers. They are associated with extreme weight gain and loss, both of which affects menstruation." she added.

Bringing health to your menu

As we grow older, both sleeping, as well as eating, are considered as the luxuries of life. We find ourselves hoping to catch a break amidst a chaotic schedule. And while numerous tonics and pills have helped regularise this issue, it wasn't until 2015 that founders Ankur Goyal & Sheta Mittal decided to launch what is now known as a one-of-its-kind food startup for women's health. "We took one year to launch our first product as we spoke to thousands of women to understand her needs and preferences," said Sheta. "One of our key findings was that Asian women would rather not have pills and powders due to their association with medicines. For her everyday concerns, she is looking for natural remedies that can be easily integrated in her routine and don't bring side effects," she added.

&Me, founded after rigorous research and interviews with gynaecologists, nutritionists, today claims to have served over 2.5 lakh women with a digital building community of over one lakh women across the country. "Almost 50 per cent of the world's population is women, of which 75 per cent women experience severe premenstrual discomfort symptoms every month. Apart from that, over 80 per cent women also experience hair fall and skin acne post-pregnancy, 55 per cent and above are calcium deficient," Sheta explained. "But as we saw ourselves, our mothers and our girlfriends deal with women's unique life stage health needs of menstruation, pregnancy and menopause, research and solutions seemed unsatisfactory. There is limited investment in the women health space by large companies due to the tabooed nature of the topic traditionally," she said. Talking about women's health, she also mentioned how the sector is slated to become a $50B opportunity by 2025.

Sailing through the tide

However, being a first of its kind food and beverage health-brand dedicated to women had its own set of challenges and was not instantly accepted. "When we first launched the products offline, we saw limited traction. Women were glancing past it," Sheta stated. "We tried expanding stores, enhanced retail marketing and even sales team overhaul," she added. However, it wasn't until October 2019 when the &Me team experimented with the online space. "Starting from our first ad post we have been growing the business 20 to 30 per cent every month," she answered. Today, Sheta & Ankur receive messages from content consumers about their positive experience. "When women see the ad, they get intrigued because the need is high. They are happy to try these products because an alternative doesn't exist as of yet. Creating online awareness has helped drive offline sales for a new category, that earlier women weren't expecting to find in stores," she said.

A box for your menstrual needs

The brand recently launched a 'period subscription box', that made the news for its quirky menstruation-friendly contents. "The 'Uncompromising Period comfort' box helps provide period comfort inside and out with its assortment of sanitary pads, menstrual cup, period tea, period chocolate, and roll-on," Sheta explained. The contents also come packaged in a pretty 'period box'! "During the monthly PMS and period cycle, a woman notices more than ten changes in her body, including cramps, fatigue, mood swings, and cravings," Sheta said. "And the period care category has grown significantly over the last few years but has also largely focused on period hygiene," she stated.

Being the messengers of change

Speaking about the steps we as a society could collectively take to spread awareness against period-related issues, Sheta remarked that girls should be more vocal. "One of the simplest things we as women don't do, even with our BFFs, is sharing our stories, because somewhere as a society we have been made to believe that it is a sign of weakness and as a woman, we should bear the pain," she said. "If we could all share our period story, pregnancy story, menopause story with men and women around us, it would spread awareness and help give strength to other women to deal with the changes and take corrective actions!" she concluded.

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