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

Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Associate / Partner - Bristol

Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - Solar Energy - OTE £50,000

£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...

Recruitment Genius: Compute Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Amjad Bashir said Ukip had become a 'party of ruthless self-interest'  

Could Ukip turncoat Amjad Bashir be the Churchill of his day?

Matthew Norman
King Abdullah made Saudi Arabia prosperous but had absolute disregard for what liberal Westerners would view as basic human rights  

The media cannot ignore tricky questions when someone dies - but it must stick to the facts

Will Gore
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us