A leading group of doctors has criticised 'scientifically unsound' tests and treatment for fertility problems.
Infertility affects one in seven couples and recurrent miscarriage, the loss of three or more pregnancies, affects one in a hundred women. Fertility clinics are now offering a range of tests and treatments for these problems over the internet.
However a review by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists found that many fertility patients are routinely paying more than £1,000 a time for screenings and drugs that are unproven in the hope of helping their chances of conception.
Professor Lesley Regan, who carried out the review on behalf of the RCOG's Scientific Advisory Committee, explained that couples who are distressed because they fail to or are unable to carry a baby to term are turning to 'unvalidated immunological tests'.
'It is clear that the advice given on many sites is strongly influenced by the personal prejudices of doctors practising non-evidence based medicine. Much of the data they provide has never been exposed to the rigorous scrutiny of peer review,' she said.
Experts believe that some cases of infertility or repeated miscarriage may be caused by the man's immune system reducing the potency of sperm or the mother's immune system attacking embryos.
But the review concluded: 'There is no good scientific evidence to support the idea that reproductive failure is due to immunological abnormalities.'
Professor Peter Johnson, Head of the Reproductive Immunology Group at the University of Liverpool, commented: 'Clinical investigations and treatments that are without a sound scientific basis mislead patients, often at high cost, exacerbating their emotional roller coaster ride.'