Claire Richards reveals 'horrendous' early stages of perimenopause

‘You feel like you’re shrivelling up!’ Steps’ Claire Richards, 45, reveals she was housebound during early stages of perimenopause as she struggled with ‘horrendous’ symptoms

Claire Richards has revealed the early stages of perimenopause left her housebound. 

The Steps star, 45 – who is mum to Charlie, 16, and Daisy, 13 with husband Reece Hill – has admitted she felt unable to leave home as she struggled with ‘horrendous’ symptoms.

In a new interview Claire candidly confessed to having severe anxiety, ‘the worst’ palpitations, ‘pounding’ through her neck, and feeling as though she was ‘shrivelling up from the inside out.’

The popstar- who was revealed to be Knitting on The Masked Singer in February – also admitted that it took her a long time to come to terms with what was happening to her body, with ‘fear and denial’ preventing her from seeking treatment.

Claire is now on hormone replacement therapy and thankfully is starting to feel ‘more like herself,’ as it helps to ease symptoms.  

Nightmare: Claire Richards, 45, has revealed that the early stages of perimenopause left her housebound as she struggled with ‘horrendous’ symptoms

Candid: The popstar admitted that it took her a long time to come to terms with what was happening to her body, with ‘fear and denial’ preventing her from seeking treatment

Awful: ‘When I was doing The Masked Singer, the anxiety was horrendous. I was having the worst palpitations, pounding through my neck’ admitted the singer (Pictured in February) 

Claire told The Mirror: ‘This last year has been a weird one. I started getting perimenopause symptoms and I was like, ‘Hold on a second, I don’t like this’.

‘When I was doing The Masked Singer, the anxiety was horrendous. I was having the worst palpitations, pounding through my neck. I didn’t feel I could give it my best at all.’

You kind of feel like you’re shrivelling up from the inside out. It took me a long time to address it. It’s a milestone, isn’t it? I’m not an angry person at all, but you can feel it rising’

Claire confessed to the publication that ‘fear and denial’ prevented her from seeking treatment until the symptoms got so bad, she struggled to leave her Surrey home.

What is Perimenopause?

Perimenopause, or menopause transition, begins several years before menopause. It’s the time when the ovaries gradually begin to make less estrogen. It usually starts in women’s 40s, but can start in their 30s or even earlier.

Perimenopause lasts up until menopause, the point when the ovaries stop releasing eggs. In the last 1 to 2 years of perimenopause, this drop in estrogen speeds up. At this stage, many women have menopause symptoms. 

The average length of perimenopause is 4 years, but for some women this stage may last only a few months or continue for 10 years. Perimenopause ends when women have gone 12 months without having their period.


She added: ‘My husband knows I’m going through something and he’s been really patient. I’m definitely feeling more like myself. It must be the HRT starting to work.’ 

Last May, Claire opened up about her struggles with body image and shared her anxieties about how easily photos can be heavy filtered online today.

Speaking on the Spinning Plates podcast with Sophie Ellis-Bextor, the Steps singer said: ‘Also knowing the things that the kids have to…all we had to deal with was airbrushing.

‘I remember going for a meeting years ago and our record company were trying to persuade us to do FHM. 

‘And the way they persuaded us, or tried to persuade us to do it was, they came and they brought two photographs.

‘And they said this is the photo – the airbrushed photo – but this is what it looked like before, so look what we can do! We can make you look like this! And that was the selling point.

‘And now, that’s on your phone. So it’s even less real than it was back then.’

The star, who added that she has been both ‘dangerously thin’ and ‘obese’, also shared that there is still a lack of understanding about the mental aspect of eating disorders.

Claire said: ‘I’ve gone from being dangerously thin to obese and I honestly do believe it’s all part of the same…if it’s an eating disorder, it’s one extreme to the other.

‘There is a massive lack of understanding, generally, and I think especially on the overweight side of it.

‘I think people just look at anybody who’s overweight (and think) that they’re lazy and have got no discipline. And I’m not lazy and I definitely have discipline but I found myself in that position.

‘…I struggle everyday, and I’ve managed to maintain a good size now for a long time but it’s a battle every day and people just don’t understand that psychological side of it generally.’

Family: Claire and husband Reece Hill have been together for 25 years and share son Charlie, 16, and daughter Daisy, 13

Claire has previously spoken of the struggles she faced with her body image while in the chart-topping band, saying: ‘I definitely had an eating disorder back then.

‘I wasn’t diagnosed, but for four years at least I exercised like crazy. I ate as little as I could possibly get away with.’

The mother-of-two’s weight struggles have been widely documented with the star gaining 4 stone and soaring to a size 20 after her Steps days.

In 2017, she lost six stone and revealed she stays in shape by limiting herself to around 1,000 calories a day and snacking on small portions of yoghurt and fruit.

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