It is important to note that there is a discrepancy between what the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines recommend, and what treatment is available to you. Whilst Scotland meets the guidelines, the provision of IVF treatment varies across England and Wales, meaning your treatment will depend on your local NHS clinical commissioning group (CCG) policy.

Generally, you are eligible for IVF on the NHS if you meet the following criteria:

  1. You and your partner do not have children already

This includes children from both your present and any previous relationships.

  1. You have a healthy BMI

The single most important lifestyle factor that can affect your fertility is your BMI. A healthy BMI falls within 20-25.

This  particularly applies to women, but some couples have been turned down for NHS fertility treatment because of the man’s age or weight. Read more in The Guardian.

  1. You do not smoke

Smoking can adversely affect both female and male fertility, so you should consider giving up smoking if you wish to have IVF with the NHS, or want to boost your chances of conceiving naturally.

  1. You have been trying to get pregnant for 1-2 years

NICE recommends IVF treatment should be offered to couples who have been unsuccessful despite having regular unprotected sex for 2 years. However, this may be different in your area. You should contact your GP or local CCG to find out about their criteria.

  1. The woman falls within a certain age range

According to NICE guidelines, a woman under 40 years should be offered 3 cycles if they have been trying to get pregnant for 2 years, and have not been able to get pregnant after 12 cycles of Intrauterine Insemination (IUI).

NICE recommends offering treatment to women who are 40-42 years when they meet the guidelines mentioned above (<40 years) but have also not had IVF treatment previously and show no evidence of low ovarian reserve.

The age limit for IVF on the NHS is 42 years, but your local CCG may have stricter criteria than this and may only fund treatment to women who are under 35 years. You need to contact your GP or local CCG to find out more.

  1. You live in an area that offers NHS-funded IVF treatment

If you are seeking IVF with the NHS, you may find yourself a victim of the ‘postcode lottery’. This is because the IVF criteria falls entirely to your individual CCG, and there are approximately 207 of these throughout the UK.

Therefore, whilst NICE guidelines recommend offering at least 3 cycles of IVF to those with infertility under 40 years, only a small portion of CCGs are able to do this in England and Wales. The fundamental cause of this is IVF funding, and a growing number of CCGs have completely suspended all funding for NHS IVF.

The ongoing #Scream4IVF campaign by Fertility Network UK  is currently challenging this. You can sign the petition to raise this issue in parliament.

  1. You are not a single woman

As NICE guidelines apply to couples, it is broadly recognised that single women are not eligible for IVF on the NHS. However, there have been rare instances where this has occurred.

Please remember that each CCG’s criteria for treatment varies, so please do check with your doctor first.

If you are not eligible for NHS treatment or wish to avoid the waiting list for IVF, you may decide to seek IVF privately. You can either be referred by your GP, or you can contact a clinic directly to discuss your options.

The cost of private treatment can vary greatly (with 1 cycle of IVF costing up to £5,000!) so make sure you are aware of this and any additional costs.

Compare the cost of private IVF clinics in the UK here.

Here at abc ivf, we are dedicated to making IVF pricing as transparent and clear as possible, so we've designed a Complete IVF Package for £2,500 which includes everything you will need (even medication!) so you know from the get-go what the final cost will be. You can find out what this involves here.

If you would like to speak to a friendly member of the abc ivf team, you can contact us on 0330 0580 800 or leave us a message here. Whatever your situation, we are happy to listen and we are happy to help!

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