The NHS guidance on the treatment of infertility will be renewed and updated due to a new draft guideline on fertility treatments released by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) today. The original recommendations are from 2004 and, since then, there have been many advances in the treatments available as well as research into the optimum time at which to offer treatment for fertility problems.
The new guidelines include a recommendation for new groups of people to be offered treatments to preserve their fertility, such as those patients awaiting treatment for cancer, those with a sexually-transmitted or infectious disease (such as HIV or hepatitis), same sex couples, and those with a disability. The recommendation will also offer in vitro fertilisation (IVF) to some women up to the age of 42 years. “The aim of these new and updated recommendations is to ensure that everyone who has problems with fertility has access to the best levels of help,” said Dr Gill Leng, Deputy Chief Executive of NICE.
Until now, IVF had only been offered to women aged between 23–39 who had known infertility, or had been unable to conceive for three years. If the draft guidance is accepted, this will now be revised and IVF will be offered to women under the age of 39 who have been unable to conceive for two years or after 12 cycles of artificial insemination, and also to certain women aged between 40–42 years. Previous advice on the use of oral ovarian stimulation agents or intrauterine insemination (IUI) will be changed as research has found an 80% chance that couples who continue trying for a baby for two years without medical intervention will be successful in doing so.
Dr Leng emphasised that infertility “…is a medical condition that can cause significant distress for those trying to have a baby. This distress can have a real impact on people’s lives, potentially leading to depression and the break-down of relationships. However, in many cases infertility can be treated effectively – there are thousands of babies and happy parents thanks to NHS fertility treatment.”