More IVF treatment for childless

PUBLISHED: 12:15 28 August 2008 | UPDATED: 16:29 05 May 2010

CHILDLESS couples in Comet country will soon have their chances of a baby tripled. The East and North Hertfordshire Primary Care Trust (PCT) and Bedfordshire PCT is set to change its policy of funding one cycle of in vitro fertilisation to up to three cyc

CHILDLESS couples in Comet country will soon have their chances of a baby tripled.

The East and North Hertfordshire Primary Care Trust (PCT) and Bedfordshire PCT is set to change its policy of funding one cycle of in vitro fertilisation to up to three cycles.

From April next year, all 14 PCTs in eastern England will give eligible couples up to three chances of conceiving a child, in line with recommendations issued four years ago by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence.

Peter Greenwood, consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist, and lead clinician for the fertility services project steering group, said: "Around one in seven couples could be affected by infertility. The implications can be devastating for some, sometimes with unseen consequences for mental health and wellbeing.

"We are potentially offering a big improvement in the lives of many couples in the region, where IVF is clinically the right solution and has the potential to succeed.

"However, the treatment may not be the right answer for every couple. It involves a complex programme that can take up to a year and it is important that there are limitations where there may be clinical or other risks. Part of the treatment involves specialist counselling, so couples have all the information and support they need."

Initial contact for eligible couples will be their GP, who must refer them after proven infertility or three years unexplained infertility. Women seeking treatment must be aged between 23 and 39 at the start of their treatment cycle. Couples must have no children from the current relationship, including adopted children.

Both would-be parents must have stopped smoking before treatment, though if necessary they will be supported by an NHS smoking cessation programme.

The full policy can be read at www.escg.nhs.uk

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