Can I get IVF treatment on the NHS?

Local clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) decide whether to fund IVF (in vitro fertilisation) treatment on the NHS.

NICE guidance on treatment for fertility problems

Guidance from NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) recommends that up to three IVF cycles should be available on the NHS if:

  • the woman is aged between 23 and 39 at the time of treatment, and
  • one or both of you has been diagnosed with a fertility problem (such as having no sperm or both fallopian tubes blocked), or
  • you’ve been infertile for at least two years

Women aged 40-42 who have not conceived after two years of regular, unprotected sex or after 12 cycles of artificial insemination should be offered one IVF cycle if the following criteria are met:

  • they have never previously had IVF treatment
  • there’s no evidence fertility problems due to a low amount of eggs (low ovarian reserve)
  • there has been a discussion of the additional implications of IVF and pregnancy at this age

Implementation of this guidance by CCGs currently varies as it is guidance and not mandatory.

CCGs’ additional criteria

Some CCGs apply additional criteria that affect access to NHS-funded IVF treatment including:

  • criteria related to children, such as no living children from the current relationship or previous relationships, or no children under a specified age living with the couple
  • stopping smoking before being referred for treatment
  • the woman’s age to be within a different range than recommended by NICE
  • the man’s age to be within a specified range

The Department of Health has endorsed a set of standardised access criteria for NHS fertility treatment developed by the patient support organisation, Infertility Network UK.

Waiting lists for IVF treatment

The length of waiting lists for NHS-funded IVF treatment varies. In some areas, waiting lists can be very long.

Prescription charges

If you’re eligible for NHS-funded IVF treatment, you will still have to pay prescription charges for fertility medicines, unless you’re exempt from prescription charges. See prescription costs for more information.

Private fertility treatment

If you’re not eligible for NHS treatment, you may consider paying for private fertility treatment. It’s important to choose a private clinic carefully.

See the HFEA website for information about:

Fertility problems

If you’ve been trying for a baby for one year and you haven’t conceived, see your GP. You should see your GP sooner than this if you’re a woman over 36 or you already know that you may have fertility problems.

Your GP will give you advice on what to do next and carry out an initial assessment to check what might be causing your fertility problems.

IVF is only one of several treatment options that aim to help couples with fertility problems to have a baby. Read more information about diagnosing infertility and treating infertility.

Read the answers to more questions about NHS services and treatments.

Further information:

Page last reviewed: 05/08/2013

Next review due: 04/08/2015