Once your GP has completed your fertility investigations they will decide if there is a need for further assessment or if you should continue to try to conceive naturally or if you are eligible for treatment funded by the NHS. The NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) guidelines provide recommendations on funding for treatment, however your local area may specify their own eligibility criteria for funding. In Scotland, a policy has been developed by all NHS boards in Scotland for fertility treatments.
In order to be referred for treatment, an assessment must be made by your GP or fertility specialist which specifies certain criteria set out by NHS Scotland. The criteria includes:
- Body Mass Index (BMI)
- Length of time trying to conceive
- Previous children
- Lifestyle factors
The NICE guidelines state that women under the age of 40 years old should be eligible for funded treatment. NHS Scotland state that women aged up to 42 years old can be eligible.
Women are recommended to have a BMI between 18.5 and 30. Couples are informed that this range is best for both partners.
Time to conceive
If you have an infertility diagnosis, you may be referred for treatment without any requirement for how long you’ve been trying. In cases of unexplained infertility, heterosexual couples are advised to try to conceive naturally for 2 years before being referred. Same-sex female couples are advised to have 6 cycles of self-funded donor insemination before being referred for treatment on the NHS.
The NICE guidelines state that having children, either from a current or previous relationship, should not be a deciding factor when determining eligibility for funding for IVF. NHS Scotland state that one of the partners may have a child from a previous relationship and still be eligible for funding.
The NICE guidelines explain that women who are smoking should be informed that it is likely to reduce their fertility. Even passive smoking can affect their chances of conceiving. In Scotland, both partners must be non-smoking and nicotine free for at least 3 months before referral for treatment.
If either partner have undergone an elective sterilisation, you are not considered eligible for treatment – even if it has been reversed.
What are you entitled to?
Eligible patients may be offered 3 cycles of IVF, if they meet the criteria specified above. Women aged 40-42 can be eligible for 1 cycle of IVF. In addition, the Scottish Government used funding to provide Embryoscopes at all assisted conception centres, meaning that patients have time-lapse as a part of their treatment.
You can read more about IVF provision in Scotland:
This information is accurate as of the publishing date, however CCGs review and update their policies. Please get in touch with us if you think the above information has changed.