Ways to Access free IVF treatment.
In vitro fertilisation, commonly known as IVF treatment, is where an egg is removed from the ovaries of a woman, taken to a laboratory and fertilised with sperm. The resulting embryo is then returned to the womb to grow until it is time to be born.
Provided certain criteria is met, this service can be provided free on the NHS. The guidelines on who is eligible for free treatment is determined by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, or NICE, although individual integrated care boards (ICBs) reserve the right to make a final decision on who is eligible in their local area and sometimes their criteria can be stricter.
NICE recommends all women under forty-ish should be eligible for 3 cycles of free IVF treatment if they have been unsuccessful at pregnancy through natural means for 2 years and if twelve cycles of artificial insemination, with six using intrauterine insemination being likewise unsuccessful. Should the woman turn forty during treatment, the cycle will be completed but no further ones will be offered.
For women aged between forty and forty-two, NICE recommends one free cycle should be offered if the above criteria have been met and also if the woman has had no prior IVF treatment, there is no evidence of low ovarian reserve in which eggs are either few in number or low in quality and if they have been informed of the implications both of IVF and of pregnancy at this age.
Local ICBs may put forward their own criteria which must be met if free IVF treatment is to be provided. For example, they may stipulate that the woman may not have any children already, that they be at a healthy weight, that they be non-smokers and that they fall into a certain age range.
An example of the latter may be that free IVF treatment is provided only to those women aged thirty-five and under. Additionally, some ICBs may only offer one cycle of treatment as opposed to the NICE-recommended three or only under exceptional circumstances. Be sure to contact either your local GP or your local ICB if IVF treatment is something you’re considering to see if it is offered on the NHS in your area.
Some people consider seeking IVF treatment abroad, but you should take care if this includes you. Clinics may not be as regulated as their UK counterparts and your safety and the quality of care you will receive should be your priorities.
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