A beauty and massage therapy centre in Belfast has been told to stop claiming that its massages can treat infertility.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said it investigated The Beauty Company's claims that the treatment, called the "Logan Fertility Method", could help women to conceive after a complainant said it was misleading.
The watchdog asked the company to substantiate the claim that the massage could help women "written off as fertility failures by modern Western science/medicine" after an article on the site implied 154 babies had been born following the treatment.
It said that to make that claim, and others that included that the abdominal massage could stimulate oestrogen and progesterone and increase blood flow to the uterus, the company would need to have conducted proven clinical trials on people.
The claims were made in an article written by the owner of the clinic and published on the company's website that said it was based on her own experiences.
In it, the owner said her son was "officially the first baby in the world to be born using the Logan Fertility Method" and was "living proof that while traditional Western science is wonderful, it doesn't hold all the answers about the path to motherhood".
In response to the ASA, the owner said she offered the therapy as a "complementary service" to people with fertility challenges, but did not claim to treat infertility. She said the service she offered was about creating chances for healthy conception and pregnancy.
The ASA highlighted this extract from the article:
Since carrying out my first fertility massage on June 10, 2009 to today June 30, 2013, 154 babies have been born to my clients – THAT'S AN AVERAGE OF ABOUT 40 BABIES BORN EVERY YEAR TO WOMEN WITH MAJOR FERTILITY CHALLENGES AFTER THEY HAVE WALKED INTO MY CLINIC. AND NOW ANOTHER 51 are on the way...
It concluded that the claims were misleading and had breached advertising rules.
In its ruling, the ASA said: "Although the page did not directly reference ‘infertility’, we considered that in this context references to ‘fertility’ were likely to be seen as implied claims that the massage could treat infertility, particularly because individuals were unlikely to seek out fertility assistance unless they were having difficulties conceiving naturally."
"The ad must not appear again," the ASA added. "We told The Beauty Company not to state or imply that they could treat infertility, or difficulties conceiving naturally. We told them not to use the name 'Logan Fertility Method' and advised them that references to fertility made in relation to the massage were likely to mislead."
BuzzFeed News contacted The Beauty Company but it had not responded at the time of writing.