Image: Brunel University

The management of menopausal symptoms, particularly hot flashes, has taken a significant step forward with the introduction of the Zera Cooling Crescent. Developed by Aphra Hallam, a 22-year-old Industrial Design and Technology student at Brunel University London, this innovative device offers discreet and effective relief for women experiencing this common discomfort.

Historically, menopause has been a topic of limited discussion and understanding, often resulting in women’s concerns being marginalized. However, recent advocacy efforts by public figures such as Davina McCall, Lorraine Kelly, and Michelle Obama have contributed to dismantling the stigma around menopause. Hot flashes, a challenging symptom, are now being addressed more directly with solutions like the Zera Cooling Crescent.

Aphra Hallam’s inspiration for this creation stemmed from witnessing her mother’s struggles with menopausal hot flashes. Hallam set out to design a device that could be easily worn on the back of the neck, hidden beneath hair or clothing. The device uses reusable silicone gel pads, similar to those in TENS machines, to stay in place without causing skin irritation.

Operating alongside a dedicated mobile app, the Zera Cooling Crescent is activated via Bluetooth, providing a cooling sensation. The app also serves as a comprehensive resource, offering guidance and support for women navigating the menopausal journey. The device made its public debut at the Made in Brunel exhibition, an annual event showcasing the innovative designs of final-year students from Brunel Design School.

Hallam’s impetus for creating the Zera Cooling Crescent was the lack of discreet and non-invasive solutions for menopausal symptoms. “Over 70% of women do not treat their menopause symptoms. This can be attributed to a lack of discussion and education surrounding the menopause, as well as a limited number of discreet and non-invasive solutions available,” she explained.

The cooling mechanism of the device is rooted in physiological principles. “When activated by the Zera app, the device produces a cooling sensation that targets the blood vessels in the back of the neck. Its close proximity to the end of the brain stem allows your body to cool down,” Hallam clarified. This mechanism taps into the body’s natural cooling responses for efficient relief.

Zera Creator Aphra Hallam. Image: Brunel University

Hallam’s commitment to inclusivity is evident in the device’s design. Recognizing that menopause affects black women differently, the Zera Cooling Crescent is available in various skin tones, addressing the racial disparities often seen in reproductive aging. The name “Zera” is a combination of “zen” for relaxation and “era” from the Yoruba word “Ilera,” meaning health.

In Hallam’s words, “The menopause is not as widely talked about as it should be, even though it affects such a large proportion of the population. I hope that Zera raises awareness about menopausal symptoms and addresses racial disparities. The Cooling Crescent can be used on the go and will provide a quick and easy solution to hot flashes.”

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