When Claire Pape experienced hot sweats and mood swings as a 13-year-old, her parents thought it was just part of puberty.
But after having just one period, tests revealed that Claire had gone through menopause as a young teenager.
As a result, she was told at 17 she’d never be able to have children.
However, now at the age of 43, Claire is a proud mum to 15-year-old Louie and five-year-old Isabelle – who were conceived via egg donation.
The business owner says: ‘I am sharing my story to give other women with premature ovarian insufficiency some hope.
‘My ovaries stopped functioning at 13, I had one period before my 14th birthday.
‘It is heartbreaking but it is something I learnt to accept at a very young age’
Claire adds that she felt incredibly alone going through the experience as a teenager – as none of her friends could relate.
She says: ‘I was taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT) from the age of 17.
‘Most girls my age didn’t even know what that was. It was awful and a massive shock to the system.
‘It was a lonely experience but I took it in my stride.’
Claire had one round of IVP for free on the NHS in 2004, but it failed.
The next round, which cost £1,800, was a success and Louie was born.
However, Claire encountered more problems down the road as she later miscarried twins and suffered an ectopic pregnancy.
She says: ‘IVF began taking its toll on my body and mental health. I did want to give up after the ectopic pregnancy as it was devastating.
‘But after a few years, I realised I have nothing to lose. Being a mum is all I have ever wanted.
‘It cost £15,500 for three more rounds of IVF.’
Now the mum-of-two wants other women who have gone through early menopause to know there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
She adds: ‘There are other routes to motherhood.
‘I have told my children since babies that I needed to use another woman’s seed.
‘Louie is a teenager so he understands more now but it hasn’t affected our bond.
‘I adore my children and they were worth the struggle to get here.’
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