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GLAMOUR Women in Charge: Meet Founder of Honest Hormones, Giada Bertola

Giada Bertola is the founder of Honest Hormones, a range of all-natural supplements aimed at tackling women's health issues. The company was born out of her own struggle to find relief from painful endometriosis, a condition which impacts millions of women around the world. In 2023 Honest Hormones was named one of 30 game changing healthcare startups in Africa and the middle East by the Bayer Foundation, it was also named African winner in the Tie Women Global Pitch competition, for female-led start-ups. Giada remains an advocate for women’s health while shining a positive spotlight to women health care through Honest Hormones and other social impact initiatives.

What made you start Honest Hormones? take us through your journey?

11 years ago I was diagnosed with endometriosis - and at the time, people and most doctors alike, knew so little about it. I was sick for many years with no real treatment in sight. I was put on antibiotics for years - that completely wrecked my health and aggravated my health. So, I decided to take charge of my condition and speak to anyone I could - doctors, endocrinologists, herbalists - to find a solution that could work for me. It took us 4 years of research and clinical data from all over the world to come up with a supplement that is contraceptive friendly, medication friendly and that actually works for endometriosis.

Do you think there is enough awareness on women related health issues - specifically in Africa? and how can we change that narrative?

Not at all. Worldwide, research into women's health is severely underfunded. There is a lot that needs to be done - education at home and at school, from a primary school level, for both men and women, is crucial. The effective 'normalisation' of female health is the best starting point - and by that, I mean, treating issues that are unique to the female anatomy, the same we treat health issues that both men and women share, from diabetes down to a headache. Female health has also been seen as a taboo thing - or something only women should talk about. No more - in order to solve this crisis, it is imperative men learn about it just as much. It needs to become a normal conversation to have, because female health issues are very normal.

Tell us a little bit about the type of supplements offered at Honest Hormones?

We have developed a range of supplements tackling the all sorts of 'looked over' issues like endometriosis, contraceptive hormonal imbalance, post-partum, hormonal sleep, morning after pill, abortions, miscarriages and more. Currently, we have release two supplements: the first natural treatment targeted at endometriosis and the first supplement that is a complimentary to contraceptive.

Endometriosis Care alleviates symptoms of endometriosis like pelvic pain, unbearable period pain, fatigue, nausea, bloated tummy; it inhibits malignant tissue formation and may reverse lesions.

Birth Control Balance is made to alleviate side effects of contraceptive, replenish nutrients that contraceptive depletes and balances your hormones.

Please expand on your approach to social impact through Honest Hormones

Our products alone seemed to have been a source of hope for many women who had just given up to the idea that they would have to chronically suffer for the rest of their lives. Giving back is very important to me as I personally have seen the difference it can make in a young woman's life, both long term and short term.

We are partners with MENstruation Foundation - they are the most sustainable menstrual health organisation in the country and impact the biggest number of schoolgirls in townships across the country - A portion of our revenue goes to them we also give talks about female health to girls in schools all over.

What has Honest Hormones taught you about entrepreneurship?

Too much! Joking, but the lessons haven't all been easy to learn, I had to be (metaphorically speaking) be slapped in the face a few times. I believe adaptability and relentless interest around what customer understand, need and want, to be crucial. Your product may be great but if you don't promote in a way the end-client will understand - and enjoy from an efficiency point of view - then you won't go far. The visual aspect of it is also very important - make sure that your branding isn't the reason why people are not buying. For us it was important to make it accessible, affordable whilst retaining high quality - but the branding had to go through a few hoops, and we'll keep updating that and all aspects of the business, as we go.

How we get more people to advocate for better healthcare system for women?

Speak up. Many cultures in South Africa still today, shame women for their periods and really all issues related to reproductive health that don't involve a seamless pregnancy and the birth of a healthy child. So, as hard as it is, the first step would be to speak up, be proud of your female anatomy, and do not gaslight yourself into thinking that pain is something that you should chronically experience.

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