Penny Lancaster has shared an insight into her own struggle with the menopause

Plus, the TV star opens up about how she overcame it.

Penny Lancaster attends the 21st National Television Awards at The O2 Arena on January 20, 2016 in London, England.
Penny Lancaster attends the 21st National Television Awards at The O2 Arena on January 20, 2016 in London, England.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Plus, the TV star opens up about how she overcame it.

In the past couple of years, more women have started to speak up about their experiences of menopause and perimenopause, challenging outdated and damaging taboos. 

Model, TV personality, and police officer Penny Lancaster admitted to “bursting into tears” in front of a friend as she discussed her early menopause symptoms on Loose Women last year.

Penny is set to star on Michael McIntyre’s The Wheel tomorrow night on BBC One, among other celebrity guests Dermot O’Leary, Krishnan Guru-Murthy, Judi Love, Michael Vaughan, Craig Revel Horwood, and Nikki Fox.

Now 50, Penny is married to rockstar Sir Rod Stewart, 77, and the pair have two children together. The TV personality first become known as the face of designer lingerie brand Ultimo. She went on to appear in Strictly Come Dancing before joining Loose Women eight years ago. 

Penny Lancaster and Sir Rod Stewart attend the Langan's Launch Night on October 28, 2021 in London, England.

As Penny spoke about her menopause symptoms on Loose Women, she recalled experiencing uncontrollable fits of tears, crippling anxiety, and a feeling that she had lost her grip. 

She said: “I had a few tears with her [the doctor], trying to explain what I’ve been going through in the last few months and she said, ‘You’ve got to get to the point where you say to yourself, ‘I see you’.”

She continued: “You’d feel guilty for being upset, and then you go for coffee with a friend and they say, 'How are you, everything good?’ And then you burst into tears and you don’t know why you’re crying."

The doctor prescribed her antidepressants, but according to Penny they only acted as a “form of plaster that covered it up”.

After speaking to an expert at Loose Women, Penny began taking HRT [hormone replacement therapy] tablets and came off the antidepressants. 

Now, she no longer suffers from hot sweats but continues to experience anxiety — a common symptom of menopause — and an underactive thyroid gland.

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Penny opened up further about her experiences in an interview with Hello! magazine in October. Remembering one night when her struggles came to a head, she said: “I was calling the boys [son Alastair, 15, and Aiden, 10] down for dinner, and getting impatient."

“When they eventually came into the kitchen, rowing, I screamed and threw a plate of dinner across the room and burst into tears,” said Penny. “Rod was worried for me. We’re honest and talk openly about everything, but I didn’t know how to explain why I was feeling the way I did.”

“The menopause freaked me out at first," Penny continued. "I thought, ‘This is the end of the road. I’m not going to have any more sex appeal, I’m not going to be as lenient or forgiving. I’ve got to say goodbye to the old Penny and say hello to the new one.’ I felt it was all shutting down around me. But as you get older you embrace each stage of your life with more maturity, and give yourself a bit of a break."

Penny explained how she’s changed her perspective about what this new stage of life could mean for her. 

“I wanted to show that I’ve still got something to give, which is why I signed up to train as a special constable,” said Penny. “I wanted to continue to be productive, give back and be the best that I can be. So now that I’m on HRT it’s like a fresh start. Not the end, but the beginning of a new chapter.”

If you’re struggling with the impact of the menopause, know that you are not alone. As Penny illustrates, finding support from others can make all the difference, so let’s keep the conversations going.

Kate Hollowood
Kate Hollowood is a freelance journalist and writes about a range of topics for Marie Claire UK, from reports on royal news and current affairs to features on health, careers and relationships. Based in London, Kate has also written for titles like the i paper, Refinery29, Cosmopolitan and It’s Nice That.