Watchdog: Give women over 40 IVF
Women struggling to have babies should be offered IVF treatment into their 40s, the health watchdog has said.
NICE, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, believes women up to 42 should be entitled to the treatment.
The body's current guidance, drawn up in 2004, sets the limit at 39.
But in a consultation document to be published, Nice raises the age and also says IVF should be offered to gay and lesbian couples as well as those carrying an infectious disease, such as Hepatitis B or HIV.
Dr Gill Leng, Nice's deputy chief executive, said: "Infertility is a medical condition that can cause significant distress for those trying to have a baby. This distress can have a real impact on people's lives, potentially leading to depression and the breakdown of relationships.
"However, in many cases infertility can be treated effectively - there are thousands of babies and happy parents thanks to NHS fertility treatment - which is why the NHS provides services and why Nice produces guidance on the topic.
"Since the original recommendations on fertility were published in 2004 there have been many advances in both treatments and in the understanding of different techniques.
"For this update we are using the latest statistical and clinical evidence to make sure that treatment for infertility is offered at a time and in a way which is most likely to result in pregnancy.
"The updated draft guideline issued ... for public consultation includes a number of new and updated recommendations. These include new specific recommendations on the number of embryos to be implanted and a broadening of the criteria for the provision of in vitro fertilisation (IVF) to include some women aged 40 to 42.
"New groups of the population have also been included in this update. These groups include people who are preparing for cancer treatment who may wish to preserve their fertility, those who carry an infectious disease, such as Hepatitis B or HIV, same-sex couples and those who are unable to have intercourse, for example, if they have a physical disability."