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New guidelines set out for treating fertility problems dominate the health news.
The coverage is based on updated infertility guidance from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE). While these guidelines are wide-ranging, the media’s coverage focuses largely on recommendations that:
• NHS-funded IVF should now be offered up to the age of 42 (in certain circumstances) – the current IVF age limit is 39
• couples having difficulty conceiving should be offered treatment after two years of regular unprotected intercourse, instead of the current three
• same sex couples should be offered NHS fertility treatment
NICE says there is a need for new guidelines to reflect the medical advances which mean fertility problems (particularly in older women) can be treated more effectively.
Other recommendations say that women under the age of 37 should only have one embryo transferred in their first cycle of IVF. This is intended to reduce the number of multiple pregnancies arising from IVF, which can result in complications for both mother and child.
Most couples would no longer be offered intrauterine insemination, as NICE says the results are no better than those for sexual intercourse. An exception to this is if there are circumstances where vaginal intercourse would not be appropriate or possible.
NICE guidelines are considered best practice and are based on the best available evidence. Local NHS organisations should follow the recommendations. The updated NICE guidelines have been published following an extensive consultation on draft guidelines issued in May 2012. The new guidelines set out many recommendations, the most high profile of which are outlined here.
Article: 20th February 2013 www.nhs.co.uk