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Are online retailers misleading customers about at-home fertility tests?

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Researchers from the University of Sydney have accused a group of online retailers of misleading customers about the effectiveness of at-home fertility tests in a new study.
online retailers misleading customers at-home fertility tests

Researchers from the University of Sydney have accused a group of online retailers of misleading customers about the effectiveness of at-home fertility tests in a new study.

Some online retailers promote Anti-Mullerian hormone (AMH) tests as a means to predict a person’s chances of getting pregnant. People use the tests to measure their egg count.

Researchers are now advocating for increased regulation in the marketing of these tests.

Background

Sometimes called ‘egg timer tests’, AMH tests were originally developed as a tool for IVF – the process of joining egg and sperm together outside the body to create an embryo – but are increasingly sold for at-home use.

AMH tests use a blood sample and claim to provide a clearer idea of a person’s ‘fertile window’ (how long they have left to conceive based on how many eggs they have left).

Studies suggest their effectiveness varies.

Findings

The study by the University of Sydney investigated 27 online retailers of home-fertility tests across multiple countries, including Australia.

It found many websites were making misleading claims about the effectiveness of the test. 74% stated their AMH tests would help consumers determine how likely they were to fall pregnant.

Researchers also found that most of these retailers claimed the test could predict the timing of menopause. They also claimed their products could diagnose polycystic ovary syndrome.

A small number of retailers suggested their tests could evaluate the effectiveness of ovarian cancer treatments.

Fewer than half of the websites provided information about the limitations of the tests.

Impact

The study warned the AMH tests could “undermine informed decision-making” and discourage consumers from seeking professional fertility advice.

Study co-author Dr Rachel Thompson said such claims “undermine women’s ability to make an informed decision”.

“People may also be worried or reassured by the test results without basis and may change their reproductive plans and behaviour as a result.”

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