so why won't doctors take miscarriage seriously?

They tell women it's bad luck when simple tests could pinpoint the causes and end so much heartbreak - so why won't doctors take miscarriage seriously?

When William Hague revealed his wife Ffion had suffered several miscarriages, he was accused of using personal tragedy to save his political career.

However, by speaking openly about the experience, he helped raise awareness about a problem often drastically underplayed, even by medics. In fact, recurrent miscarriage has a devastating effect on thousands of women every year - not only do they have to come to terms with losing another child, but many never find out what is wrong with them.

'Although I was sad for the Hagues, I was actually thrilled to hear someone in the spotlight talking openly about how awful the problem is,' says Tina O'Doherty, 34, a businesswomen from Edinburgh.

She has endured the agony of five miscarriages over six years and is still childless.

'Each loss represents a much-wanted and much-loved child,' she says. 'Most people can comprehend one miscarriage. But if you say that you've had four or five, they don't know what to say.'

For women such as Tina and Ffion Hague, the misery of fading dreams of a family of their own is often compounded by the lack of help from the health professionals.

'After each of my first three miscarriages I was sent away to try again, even though I knew in my heart that with each loss it was more likely I'd lose the next one,' says Tina.

'When I did undergo tests after my third one, I was told that because they showed nothing was wrong with me, my miscarriages were unexplained and modern medicine couldn't do any more to help; I might be lucky next time or I might not. I was on my own.'

A miscarriage is defined as the spontaneous termination of a foetus before 24 weeks gestation, after which it's called a stillbirth.