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RCOG statement on updated NICE guidance for treating people with fertility problems

News 20 February 2013

Updated guidelines for the treatment of people with fertility problems have today been published by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).

Fertility: assessment and treatment for people with fertility problems is an update from the 2004 guidance and makes a number of new recommendations to make treatments and services more readily available.

There are a number of revised and first-time recommendations including broadening of the criteria for the provision of IVF to include eligible women aged 40 to 42, same-sex couples, those who carry an infectious disease (such as Hepatitis B or HIV) and those who are unable to have intercourse (such as people with a physical disability).

It also recommends IVF treatment for eligible women who have been unable to conceive after two years of regular vaginal intercourse or 12 cycles of artificial insemination.

Moreover, the new guidelines recommend that people with unexplained infertility try to conceive naturally for a minimum of two years as new evidence suggests that treatment in these circumstances is no more beneficial than attempting to conceive through intercourse.

Dr Tony Falconer, President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), said:

“We welcome the updated guidelines and support that people experiencing fertility problems should be able to get the most appropriate and effective medical treatment and in a timely fashion.

“Infertility affects one in seven couples in the UK at some stage in their reproductive life and medical advances such as IVF have now become routine practice in the management of infertility. Problems with fertility can have a devastating effect on couples wanting to start a family and lead to feelings of isolation.

“We strongly endorse the recommendation that single embryo transfer is used if possible for women aged 39 and under. We know that replacing more than one embryo in the uterus can result in a multiple pregnancy, which carries a higher risk of complications, therefore a reduction in multiple births would have major benefits to both mother and child.

“We are aware that maternal age has risen over the years and that it is harder for older women to conceive naturally. The recommendation that IVF treatment be made available up to the age of 42 provides more choice for women but they should still be aware of the increased risks associated with pregnancy at advanced maternal age.”


For further information, please contact the RCOG Media and PR team on +44 20 7772 6300 or email

For more information see the updated NICE gudieline: Fertility: assessment and treatment for people with fertility problems