Free IVF for women over 40, says NICE

Older women could be offered free fertility treatment on the NHS – depending on how many healthy eggs they have left

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Women aged 40 and above should be given free IVF treatment if they have enough healthy eggs, claims the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).

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Currently, women over 39 are denied free IVF.  NICE is now considering testing to see how many viable eggs they produce (or how good their ‘ovarian reserve’ is) whatever their age. If they have enough healthy eggs, they will qualify for further treatment on the NHS.

While it is proven that a woman’s fertility starts to decrease with age, NICE believes that free IVF shouldn’t be denied solely on age alone. However, this could mean that younger women may be denied if they don’t have enough healthy eggs.

The move has been criticised by fertility experts who think that it’s a waste of money and isn’t in fact fair. “It is not clear whether they are trying to design a mechanism to protect themselves from the anti-discrimination lobby, or trying to set a criteria which give women the best chance of a successful pregnancy,” Dr Gillian Lockwood from the Royal College of Obstetricians has said. “NICE seems to think that the best thing is to spend money on those with the best chance of a pregnancy; there is nothing fair about that at all.”

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