Strictly judge Shirley Ballas on ‘suffering in silence’ and menopause

Shirley Ballas has revealed that she often suffers in silence “like a lot of women”, even before she was found to have an abnormally high level of testosterone.

The Strictly Come Dancing judge, 61, was recently told by her doctor following tests that the level of testosterone in her body was “that of a man”.

In an interview with Times 2, Ballas has admitted that before this news she had been hiding for months that she felt permanently tired, suffered insomnia and found it difficult to lose weight.

Strictly Come Dancing
The Strictly judge went for tests after viewers noticed a lump during the show. (Guy Levy/BBC)

She told the paper: “For a while I’ve felt I have to push my buttons to get going.

“But then suddenly it’s ‘lights, camera, action’ and I put this mask on because that’s your job.”

The professional dance coach revealed she is unsure when she started to feel out of sorts, adding: “It’s hard to pinpoint. I don’t know whether it’s got something to do with lockdown.

“Then there’s all this anxiety when you go back out into the workplace, the virus is still there and I have to meet a lot of people because I run two jobs.

“My life is like a tumble dryer and — like a lot of women — I suffer in silence.

“You’ve constantly got this on switch; the off switch only comes at night when you’re on your own and you go into this dark place.”

The Strictly Come Dancing head judge went for tests after viewers noticed a lump under her arm during a broadcast of the BBC One show.

Strictly Come Dancing Launch 2019 – London
Ballas is the head judge on Strictly Come Dancing. (Ian West/PA)

She said: “When they came back the GP wasn’t happy because my testosterone’s that of a man.

“She said: ‘That’s alarmingly high. It can wreak havoc on the organs.’”

The dancer also found out her oestrogen levels were “almost zero” and has recently had a scan of her ovaries, kidneys and adrenal glands at King’s College London.

In 2019 she had her breast implants removed after being told by a healthcare professional during a mammogram that they may not always be able to check for cancer behind the implants.

The dancer revealed she also had a family history of cancer, with her mother Audrey Rich, 84, suffering from colon cancer in recent years, and two of her aunts and her great-grandfather having died of cancer.

She also discussed how she had a difficult time due to menopause, adding: “You have your child-bearing years, and then you have these years when you feel like slipping down the other side of the hill and trying to ride a bicycle back up it to get to that feeling that you had when you were a young person.”

Ballas has been taking bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for the last 10 years and is hoping it is related to her present hormone imbalance.

She explained that her private GP and her doctor in the US believe her high testosterone levels are nothing to worry about but her NHS doctor wants more tests run as she feels the high levels are not right.