WOMEN trying to get pregnant in their twenties and thirties could have less chance after moves were made to limit IVF treatment.

Southend’s Clinical Commissioning Group has launched a consultation over plans to limit woman aged 23 to 39 to just two cycles of IVF treatment on the NHS, so it can offer woman aged between 40 and 42 one round of treatment.

IVF helps couples with fertility problems by fertilising a woman’s egg with sperm in a laboratory before returning the embryo to the woman’s womb to develop.

The group’s plans would go against guidelines set out by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, which suggests women aged 23 to 39 should be offered three cycles of IVF treatment.

Susan Seenan, co-chair of the National Infertility Awareness Campaign, said: “Not everybody needs three cycles, but from a patient’s perspective its knowing you have the third cycle option that can make all the difference.

“Knowing the second cycle is your last shot puts extra pressure on you.

“Three chances gives people a reasonable chance of success.

“They can move forward knowing they gave it their best shot.

“If someone can get three cycles and someone else, down the road gets two and they only live a few miles away, it’s not fair.

“The institute has recommended three attempts is the most cost-effective and successful amount of treatment.

“A lot of the public don’t understand the evidence and will make an ill-informed recommendation.

The commissioning group should therefore go with what the institute has recommended.”

According to Nice, women under 40 should be offered three cycles if they have been trying to get pregnant naturally for two years, or if they haven’t been able to get pregnant after 12 cycles of artificial insemination.

Southend’s clinical group wants to reduce the three cycles to two for couples who have been trying to get pregnant for three years.

It would enable it to extend IVF treatment for women aged between 40 and 42 to get one chance, and to couples unable to achieve full sexual intercourse – including those with a disability or same-sex couples.

Bourn Hall Clinic, which has a base in Wickford, said although the national media often reported an influx in older women having treatment it “hadn’t see it to be true”.

Dr Paul Husselbee, clinical chief officer of NHS Southend Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “The proposed changes have been developed as a result of a regional project looking at the clinical effectiveness of treatments for different patients and considering the cost implication of changing the policy.

“We do not expect to spend any more or any less on IVF for Southend patients as a result of the proposed changes. However, more people would be able to access this treatment.

“Wemust make sure we can offer IVF in the most effective way for our local population and ensure we balance the funding for this treatment alongside the many other cost pressures on the local NHS.”

Feedback must be received by August 31, to be discussed at the clinical executive meeting in September 2014.

Visit www.southendccg.nhs.uk/ivfengagement or hard copy versions can be obtained by calling 01702 314276.


- 32.2 per cent of women under 35 are successful (based on 2010 statistics from NICE)

- 27.7 per cent of women aged 35-37 are successful

- 20.8 per cent of women aged 38-39 are successful

- 13.6 per cent of women aged 40-42 are successful

- Only 5 per cent of women aged 43-44 are successful

- 1.9 per cent for women aged over 44 are successful

- £5,000 – the average cost of one cycle of IVF

- £440,000 the amount NICE recommends spending every year on IVF - £260,000 is about how much it costs Southend CCG every year to fund IVF


IN vitro fertilisation is one of several techniques available to help couples with fertility problems to have a baby.

During the process, a woman’s eggs are surgically removed and fertilised in a lab using sperm.

The fertilised egg, the embryo, is then implanted into the woman’s womb.

According to the NHS about 20-25 per cent of IVF treatment cycles result in a birth, with younger women having a higher chance of success.

Typically, one cycle of IVF takes between four and seven weeks.

The procedure increases a woman’s chance of twins or triplets.

Other risks include Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome which is caused by drugs used to stimulate the ovaries and can result in blood clots.