Naomi Watts 'Went Into a Panic' Experiencing Menopause Symptoms at 36: 'Flooded Me with Shame' (Exclusive)

“Every woman is going to get to this point. Why are we not getting better care?” the actress tells PEOPLE

<p>Stripes Beauty</p> Naomi Watts Stripes Beauty

Stripes Beauty

Naomi Watts Stripes Beauty

Naomi Watts is trying to make sure no woman has to navigate menopause alone.

The Goodnight Mommy actress, 55, opened up to PEOPLE about having symptoms of menopause at an early age, and how that experience translated into her menopausal wellness brand, Stripes Beauty.

The transition to menopause typically begins between ages 45 and 55, according to the National Institutes of Health. However, Watts says her transition began at 36, catching her completely off guard. “My story started so early. It was so shocking and just flooded me with shame that I just went into a panic,” she tells PEOPLE.

“I had irregular periods, night sweats and I certainly told doctors about it, but they didn't chalk that up to being anything other than stress or something because of course, 36, no way, you're far too young.”

By her early to mid-40s, Watts was having “hardcore symptoms” of menopause, calling it “ridiculous” that there was no community for advice and little education on navigating the transition.

“My skin started going berserk. I had irritable, itchy, sensitive skin,” she recalls. “I was in this loop of not knowing enough about my health and I just started googling and figuring it out on my own.”

<p>Stripes Beauty</p> Naomi Watts Stripes Beauty

Stripes Beauty

Naomi Watts Stripes Beauty

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.

On June 24, the British actress reintroduced Stripes Beauty, a product line aimed at catering to menopause and healthy aging, which she originally launched in 2022.

“I know I had shame and fear and doubt. Chances are that a lot of other people are going through the same thing,” she says. “I had a lot of anxiety in the lead up to creating this business, and then I just felt like, well, every woman is going to get to this point. Why are we not getting better care? There's just a lack of education and research.”

Since founding Stripes, Watts has met numerous doctors and sat on panels learning and discussing the new research on alleviating symptoms of menopause. The company — which is expanding into new global markets, including Canada — offers guides to understanding the natural transition, in addition to its products.

Watts’ advice to women approaching menopause: “Don’t fear it, get ahead of it.”

Related: Naomi Watts Recalls 'Spiraling Out of Control' After Experiencing Menopause Symptoms at 36: 'Not Easy'

Angela Pham
Angela Pham

The PEOPLE Puzzler crossword is here! How quickly can you solve it? Play now!

The actress has been getting ahead of it herself by incorporating some of her Stripes products into her daily regimen.

"For my nighttime routine, I use Bioderma Micellar Water Makeup Remover for Sensitive Skin to remove any makeup from the day, Tammy Fender Eye Gel applied under my eyes to keep them looking fresh, a spritz or two of The Cool Factor for a soothing night time cooldown, a few dabs of Evening Wear gently massaged into my skin to lock in moisture before bed, and a couple pumps of Vag of Honor, to make sure it stays nice and comfortable down there."

She adds, “Part of it is taking the shame out of everything, taking the stigma away and just creating this community where everyone gets to share their stories and feel less alone and taken care of.”

The Mulholland Drive star tells PEOPLE that she feels a sense of relief knowing that women are now more vocal about menopause and that she’s playing a part in helping others feel less alone.

“There's education available now and there's far less shame,” she says. “The conversation has been opened. Women are talking to their daughters and younger generations about it with far more openness than I was set up for in my generation.”

“And it's far more empowering,” Watts adds.

For more People news, make sure to sign up for our newsletter!

Read the original article on People.