IVF treatment: Baby steps in the right direction

Now women up to the age of 42 will have the option of free IVF treatment on the NHS. There are risks to such late conception, but the raised age limit is surely a good thing

Share
Related Topics

How you feel about the NHS offering IVF to infertile women depends on whether you’re a woman, or want a child, or have ever been ill, or intend ever to get ill. In other words, it’s complicated. Should infertility be treated like cancer, or heart disease, or not? Should a struggling health service be spending its meagre funds on giving women the chance to have a biological child, when “real” illnesses demand attention, and the numbers of children in care in the UK rise ever higher, while waiting to be adopted?

Then again, should women who wait until they are settled in a relationship, or have established a career from which they can take a break with some level of financial security, or have not tried for myriad other reasons, be penalised if their fertility is waning? Yesterday’s announcement of an extension of free IVF treatment to women up to the age of 42, and after two years of trying to conceive, rather than the current three years, is a guideline put forward by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence.

Guidelines rather than legislation are open to interpretation, delay and downright side-lining but at least the subject is being brought into the 21st century with an acknowledgement that the majority of women are not in a position to follow the Duchess of Cambridge life plan.

Having been on the receiving end of the crushing news that I was not eligible for NHS-funded IVF when I was 34 (according to the then-guidelines, I’d have been 35 – too old – before I reached the top of the waiting list), I understand the profound pain that an age limit causes. It’s a double blow – and for those without the funds to go private, a biological dead end.

But let’s remember that IVF is not guaranteed to result in a baby. Those over the current age limit of 39 will, in the new plan, be offered one cycle of IVF (which costs around £3,000). The success rate is, broadly speaking, 19 per cent for those around 39; it drops to 12 per cent for those aged 42. There are serious risks – physical and psychological – attached, too.

I am a passionate advocate of adoption, having opted for that route rather than suffer the financial/relationship/health stress of fertility treatment. Neither course of action is undertaken lightly – unlike the traditional methods of making a baby, one might say. So let’s have less shrieking from the right-wing press about a deluge of fatherless children. Those who are willing to undergo IVF will be those who have thought long and hard about becoming a parent – and that, surely, is the most important factor of all.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Taking on Ukip requires a delicate balancing act for both main parties

Andrew Grice
Today is a bigger Shabbes than usual in the Jewish world because it has been chosen to launch the Shabbos Project  

Shabbes exerts a pull on all Jews, and today is bigger than ever

Howard Jacobson
Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker