Discovering whether a loved had cheated or not used to involve catching them in the steamy act.
But now suspicious partners can order DNA ‘infidelity’ tests online to prove whether their other halves have really strayed.
It involves ‘evidence’ being sent off to a lab for analysis - such as underwear, bedding, condoms, cigarette butts, strands of hair or chewing gum.
The Sunday Times reports that one UK-based company is offering a £90 “semen detection test”, a £299 “gender” test to check if the sample is from a man or a woman, or a £500 comparison test to differentiate between their own sample and a “suspicious” one.
They also found a £60 “sperm detection kit” sold online - containing a solution that turns samples purple if semen is present - which is being sold as a way to catch a “cheating spouse”.
However, an investigation has highlighted an issue with such “infidelity” checking services - particularly those which are promoted as being conducted “discreetly” and encourage evidence to be collected “in secret”.
That’s because the practice is actually against the law - and could leave the victim of an affair actually facing three years in prison.
Under the Human Tissue Act 2004, it is a crime to possess someone’s “bodily material” for the purpose of having DNA analysis performed on it.
While companies in the United States and Ireland who fulfil such “catch a cheat” services refuse to receive British samples, there are many UK-based firms who are still offering these tests, the paper discovered.
The onus is put on the customer for obtaining consent, but Pauline McCormack, from the policy, ethics and life sciences research centre at Newcastle University, warned that the government need to “tighten up” on the industry.
“People might be doing it with consent. A couple could have a row and she says, ‘If you don’t believe me, let’s get it [the suspicious article] tested’, which would be legal,” she told The Sunday Times.
“But there’s a contradiction, because you’re being encouraged to do it behind their back. There is a very real possibility for the system to fall down.”
Also speaking to the paper, Sarah Jane Lenihan, a partner at Stowe Family Law, said: “Ten years ago it was private investigators. Then, at one point, lie detector tests were a popular thing which came out of the Jeremy Kyle era.”
The results of a DNA could be used in divorce proceedings if the adulterous partner signed, acknowledging there was evidence of their extra-marital activities.