MISSING Nicola Bulley suffered significant side effects brought on by the perimenopause before she disappeared, her family said today.
The 45-year-old, who vanished after dropping her kids off at school in St Michael's on Wyre, Lancashire, almost three weeks ago, reportedly battled brain fog and restless sleep.
She was taking HRT to help with her symptoms but subsequently came off the medication after experiencing intense headaches, relatives said.
Breaking their silence after detectives working on the case revealed she was deemed "high risk" due to struggles with alcohol, they said in a statement issued through cops: "The police know the truth about Nikki and now the public needs to focus on finding her.
"Due to the perimenopause Nikki suffered with significant side effects such as brain fog, restless sleep and 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.
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"The public focus has to be on finding her and not making up wild theories about her personal life."
Nicola was last seen close to the River Wyre on January 27 with her springer spaniel Willow.
Extensive water and land searches have been carried out, but there has been sign of her since.
Her family are desperate to bring the mortgage adviser home to give her children a much-needed cuddle.
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They said today: "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."
Cops yesterday said Nicola had "significant issues with alcohol" as a result of menopause.
Lancashire Police also revealed they'd been called to the family's home after "a report of concern for welfare" on January 10.
These factors, identified by her partner Paul Ansell, meant she was classified as a high risk missing person.
Detectives, who may face a probe by the police watchdog, today vowed to continue their hunt.
'BRING HER HOME'
A spokesperson for the force said: "Our sole focus throughout the investigation has been to find Nicola, to bring her home and to support her family through the trauma they are experiencing.
"The most important person in all of this is Nicola.
"As we approach the three-week anniversary of her going missing, we remain committed to doing everything we can to find her."
But officers have faced huge backlash for sharing these details as it could "destroy" Nicola's reputation.
Broadcaster Fern Britton, 65, said in a tweet: "I am uncomfortable with the latest news suggesting that Nicola Bulley has an issue with alcohol and menopause.
"The undertone is that she maybe ‘a bit unstable’ or perhaps even ‘not in her right mind.’
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"Too easy to write a woman off like this. What lies behind it?"
Labour MP for Walthamstow Stella Creasy also questioned the cops' decision to publicly disclose the private information, describing it as "deeply troubling".
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