Currently, local primary care trusts are recommended by NICE (National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence) to offer women aged 23 to 39 three IVF cycles. But many PCTs don’t offer this due to lack of funding, and have other criteria in place, including whether the woman or indeed her partner has any existing children.
Now, due to equality laws, NICE may have to remove the age limitations for women applying for IVF and other infertility treatment on the NHS. It is also aiming to ensure that single women, and those in same-sex relationships, have the same rights to treatment if they are infertile.
Final decisions about IVF and infertility treatment rules on the NHS will not be made for another two years.
However, at Manchester Fertility, we treat many women over the age of 40 (up to a maximum age of 50). Just because someone has hit 40 doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be entitled to the same treatment as someone who is 39.
Many women leave children to later in life, but what’s important is that people are kept informed of the implications of that choice. Natural fertility declines from 30 onwards.
The sad truth is that for women waiting until their 40s, not only are their treatment options limited but the chances of pregnancy are greatly reduced – regardless of whether their treatment is done on the NHS or privately.
This drop in IVF success rates isn’t down to inadequate treatment, it’s simply down to age. We make sure all potential patients who come to see us are aware of this. The NHS should do more to educate women that age is often the biggest fertility factor.