Claire Richards says extreme perimenopause symptoms 'stopped her leaving house'

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Claire Richards says extreme perimenopause symptoms
Claire Richards says extreme perimenopause symptoms 'stopped her leaving house'

It’s safe to say Claire Richards is entering a new era of her life. Not only is the Steps singer and mum-of-two launching her up-tempo second solo album at the end of this month, but personally she’s going through a transition.

Claire, who is soon to turn 46, is chatty and candid for our exclusive chat when we natter over Zoom about her exciting latest venture. But as we delve deeper, she lifts the lid on a personal battle she’s going through – the perimenopause.

Keen to spread awareness of the symptoms and keep the conversation going around the subject, Claire opens up to us about her own experiences. Over the last year, she started suffering from severe anxiety, night sweats, rage and, at her lowest ebb, struggled to leave the house.

“Around the time I was doing The Masked Singer, I started really noticing symptoms that threw me a little bit. The anxiety while doing that show… I get nervous anyway, but it was off the scale.

Claire Richards says extreme perimenopause symptoms 'stopped her leaving house' eideziqkeiqhhinvClaire was revealed to be Knitting on The Masked Singer 2023 (ITV)

“I was having these really bad palpitations that I’ve never had before – and it was every single day. I would just be sitting in my dressing room and my heart was beating out of my neck.”

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“At first, I didn’t realise what it was,” she continues. “I feel quite lucky that I’m going through it at a time where it’s being spoken about by other female celebrities who’ve really brought it to the forefront. It’s amazing how little anybody really knows about it.”

Her symptoms became so bad that at their worst she distanced herself from friends. “I couldn’t face going out because I was feeling anxious about going out and socialising,” she admits.

Now taking a range of supplements, oestrogen spray and liquid collagen, she is starting to see an improvement. “I’ve only been using the medicines and vitamins for six weeks – it took me all that time [since last August] to do something about it and see somebody.

“I think we as women need to be armed with information. Some people are like, ‘I’m just going to ride it out.’ But you don’t have to. I don’t want to shrivel up and lose all my collagen – I like having plump cheeks, I don’t want my hair to break off. There are so many symptoms and I don’t think people realise just how extreme it can get. Don’t just put up with it – because it’s pretty miserable to be honest.”

This year Claire will celebrate her 15th wedding anniversary with husband Reece Hill and the couple share two children – Charlie, 16, and 13-year-old Daisy. She praises her husband’s support through this challenging time.

Claire Richards says extreme perimenopause symptoms 'stopped her leaving house'Claire Richards in 2019 (Getty Images for British Summer Time)
Claire Richards says extreme perimenopause symptoms 'stopped her leaving house'Claire Richards in her Steps days (Getty Images)

“He hasn’t told me he has, but I think he’s listened to podcasts and read a few things, so he’s been very patient,” she says. “It can be a very difficult time for couples and marriages.
You hear about so many marriages that break up – probably because of this. Because people don’t know what’s happening to them and your partner does not understand what’s going on. But he’s been very supportive actually.”

Claire has had her fair share of struggles over the years. She signed the deal with Steps on her 18th birthday and was immediately told she had to lose weight. What followed were decades of weight battles and headlines. From living off 900 calories a day during the band’s heyday to coping with anorexia, Claire has previously admitted she will always struggle with body confidence. At her biggest she reached a size 20, but now has found a healthy balance. She does admit however, that her body image demons are still there.

“I think I probably deal with it better and maybe care a little bit less,” she explains. “I never believe anybody when they tell me I look nice, because I’m in my own head with it all the time.

“But I’ve found ways of making myself feel good about stuff. I look after my skin, I try to be as active as possible, I do things to try and keep me in a good headspace. But I don’t think those demons will ever really go away because they’ve been there for such a long time and its years and years of conditioning.”

She tells us, “I started my career at a time where it was alright to be told to lose weight when you started a job. I can’t imagine that being OK any more.” Claire keeps active by walking the dog upwards of 6km a day, and is looking to start weight training, too. But it’s nice to hear her be more self-accepting of her body.

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“I’m nearly 46 – I’m not trying to impress anybody. Would I like to have a firmer stomach and skinnier legs? Yeah, I would, but it’s not going to happen.” Despite clearly finding some peace in herself, the singer does have her gripes about social media. While her followers on Instagram are mainly positive in their communications, she stays away from Twitter and the comments sections on news articles.

Claire now has some exciting work in the pipeline. Her new album, Euphoria, is made up of fun, dance-style takes on some classic songs from strong women – very fitting for our interview we think. From Whitney Houston to Olivia Newton-John, every track is a belter.

“It’s the story of the influences of women who’ve had some impact on me, my voice and career,” she says. “I never thought I’d do
an album full of up-tempo bangers. It was quite exciting to do all those songs.” So are they representative of her life and is she feeling strong herself?

“Once I hit 40 something did kick in for me and I felt a shift,” she says. “I don’t know if that’s because I felt like I’d earned my stripes and earned the right to be here. It’s not a fluke, it’s not an accident – I’ve worked hard, we’ve worked hard, I’ve hopefully got a good reputation and the goods to back it up. I feel like that really helps.”

  • Claire Richards new album, Euphoria, is out on 25 August

Gemma McCartney

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