Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Underground Updated

I got the following response back from the ASA on the Zhea Clinic ad.

Dear Mr Xxxxxxx


Thank you for your continued patience.

We have visited the Zhai Clinic website which provides further information about Dr Zhai. It states that she is qualified in both western and Chinese medicine. It also appears that the Zhai Clinic practises both western and Chinese medicine. On that basis and without further evidence to suggest otherwise, I’m afraid we do not have grounds to pursue this matter further.

If you can provide evidence to show that Dr Zhai does not hold a qualification in western medicine and more detail about why you believe the clinic does not have a 70% success rate, please forward it to me. In the meantime however I will close our file.

Our website,, contains further information about the ASA and the work we do.

To be honest, I am no expert on fertility treatment so I took this opportunity to get more acquainted with the success rates of infertility treatment. Taking figures from the HFEA I found that the 70% figure, if it represents a treatment cycle success rate, is about double the average success rate. And the London Fertility Centre's success rates match those average success rates. The ad does say that over 70% of couples following the Zhea clinic's programs go on to conceive, which might explain the discrepancy; these programs may consist of more than one treatment cycle. This, to me, would nevertheless still be misleading; if the program consists of as many treatment cycles as it takes to conceive (with, presumably, less chance each time), then is it still a single program in any real terms?

Added to that is the fact that these treatments clearly aren't "natural", and the TCM plays little if any part in efficacy. Dot dot dot

Dear Xxxxx,

Seventy percent is a very high success rate for any kind of fertility treatment. Traditional IVF treatment offers about 30% success if the woman is under 35, and that figure only decreases with age.

Furthermore the ad is making a claim about conceiving "the natural way" and is bringing in traditional Chinese medicine as a route to that natural conception. I don't see how they can say that IVF or related treatments can be deemed natural methods of conception.

Also I was unable to find Dr Zhai on the GMC database, although I've since learnt that the Zhai Clinic is a satellite for the London Fertility Centre.
Kind regards,



  1. Found you article after reading the Guardian 'advertorial' for this clinic. Sounds too good to be true, and the figures just don't add up. In 2005 she helped 61 women become pregnant and yet she now sees up to 80 women a week? I also suspect that time is a major factor in her apparently high success rate. It would be interesting to do a trial comparing her long term pregnancy rates with a control group of women who had also stopped taking part in IVF programs.

  2. Dr Zhai have not been registered in GMC,she can't practice west medicine in UK. She may have Chinese medical degree in China.But It's illegal to practice here without regitereted issue.

    Most of Chinese medicine practitioners have Chinese medical degree in UK,if they came from China. Noone can claim they pratice western medicine in UK.

  3. I am a patient of Dr.Zhai for nearly a year and still haven't got pregnant, getting increasingly frusfrated and suspicious. And I agree with your findings 70% success rates have no justification. It seems to be plucked out of thin air. Despite this, business is booming thanks to an article from the Guardian newspaper !!! I would be grateful if you could continue to investigate to prove me wrong.

  4. I've had word from the ASA and they are now investigating the claims made by the Zhai Clinic. This means that either Zhai will stand by the claims, in which case she will have to provide evidence to back them up; or she will agree to change her advertising. Either way, I will keep you posted.

  5. It's also worth pointing out that it is an offence to represent yourself as a registered medical practitioner if you are not. The GMC may have a view on Ms Zhai.


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