What effect does alcohol have on menopause? Symptoms and side effects explained after Nicola Bulley statement
Lancashire Police has faced severe backlash after revealing in a statement that Nicola Bulley had ongoing struggles with alcohol and the menopause.
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The family of missing mum-of-two Nicola Bulley have said that the “appalling” speculation and rumours surrounding her private life “need to stop”.
Nicola went missing three weeks ago, on 27 January, while walking her dog in St Michael’s on Wyre in Lancashire. She has not been seen or heard from since.
Yesterday (15 February) Lancashire Police faced severe backlash after revealing in a statement that the 45-year-old had “significant issues with alcohol” brought on by “her ongoing struggles with the menopause”. These “individual vulnerabilities” meant she had been categorised in the highest risk category, the police said.
Many were outraged by the disclosure of this personal information, with Labour MP Stella Creasy slamming the police’s statement as “deeply troubling”. Other critics, such as Tory MP Alicia Kearns, said the information served only to “assist those wishing to victim blame or diminish”, while the government’s mental health ambassador, Dr Alex George, said the words felt like the “stigmatisation of a speculative alcohol misuse disorder”.
Today (16 February), Nicola’s family have addressed the newly-released health information - stating that while they were aware “Nikki would not have wanted” the personal details to be released, the police had “kept them informed” about the disclosure. They continued: “There are people out there speculating and threatening to sell stories about her. This is appalling and needs to stop. The police know the truth about Nikki and now the public need to focus on finding her.”
Speaking specifically on Ms Bulley’s struggles with menopause, her family said: “Due to the perimenopause, Nikki suffered with significant side effects such as brain fog, restless sleep. [She] was taking HRT to help, but this was giving her intense headaches which caused Nikki to stop taking the HRT, thinking that may have helped her but only ended up causing this crisis. The public focus has to be on finding her and not making up wild theories about her personal life.”
What are the symptoms of menopause?
According to the NHS website, symptoms of menopause and perimenopause include:
- Changes to periods
- Changes to moods, e.g., anxiety, mood swings, low self-esteem
- Problems with memory or concentration, e.g. brain fog
- Hot flushes
- Difficulty sleeping
- Heart palpitations
- Muscle aches and joint pains
- Skin changes, e.g. dry or itchy skin
- Reduced sex drive
- Vaginal dryness and pain
- Recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs)
What are the side effects of HRT?
Hormone replacement therapy, or HRT, is a treatment used to relieve symptoms of the menopause. Like any medicine however, it can cause side effects. These include:
- Feeling sick
- Abdominal pain
- Breast tenderness
- Vaginal bleeding
Why was this information released?
Lancashire Police revealed the information about Ms Bulley as a way of explaining that she was in a high risk category as a missing person, meaning there was risk of her coming to serious harm. But critics have said there was no reason to reveal the information.
Zoë Billingham, the chairwoman of an NHS mental health trust, asked: “Why on earth was this information even vaguely relevant to an investigation that’s 20 days on? If there are issues relating to Nicola that needed to be put in the public domain, why wasn’t this done earlier? And why was such personal information, such potentially sensitive information, disclosed?”
A former detective also told Sky News that he was “confused” by Lancashire Police’s strategy, adding that he had “never seen such level of detail” released in a missing person case before. Martyn Underhill explained: “You can understand why some people are saying it’s victim blaming to protect their own reputation. I can’t see how it progresses the case any further forward now we’re three weeks in, to be frank.”
The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has said it has made contact with Lancashire Police regarding information made public in Wednesday’s press conference. A spokesperson said it had done so "to determine if a referral to the IOPC may be required".
What else did Nicola Bulley’s family say?
Also in their statement, Ms Bulley’s family said: “Nikki is such a wonderful daughter, sister, partner and mother and is missed dearly – we all need you back in our lives.
“Nikki, we hope you are reading this and know that we love you so much and your girls want a cuddle. We all need you home. You can reach out to us, or you can contact MissingPeople.org.uk. Don’t be scared, we all love you so very much.”