hfeaThe Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority believe that new NICE guidelines on infertility management and fertility treatment will "translate into better clinical care for patients".

Guidance in the new updates to the 2004 Fertility guidelines includes reducing the waiting time for IVF from three to two years with an upper age limit of 42 rather than 39.

HFEA chair Prof Lisa Jardine said: "There have been major advancements in the management of infertility and our understanding of the risks associated with fertility treatment in recent years.

"Multiple births remain the biggest single preventable health risk to mothers and their babies following IVF. The recommendations in the NICE Fertility guideline on the number of embryos that should be transferred during treatment will help us to reduce the multiple birth rate following IVF to no more than 10%."

In 2008, just 4.8% of embryo transfers were elective single embryo transfer, compared with 16.8% in 2011 following the One at a Time campaign from the HFEA.

Each round of cycles costs around £3,000 and Prof Jardine added: "We understand and sympathise with those who face the financial burden of treatment, which we know from patients can be considerable.

"We hope that the new guideline enabling some women aged 40-42 to access funded fertility treatment will give hope to those older patients who may not otherwise have been able to try for a family."

However, Tim Child who helped devise the guidelines and is the director of the Oxford Fertility Unit, has urged caution for those women who can now acess treatment more easily.

"When a woman reaches her mid-30s her fertility begins to decline, even more so from her late 30s," he explained.

"Many women do conceive naturally in the 40 to 42 year age group. But for those who can't, and who have been diagnosed with the medical condition of infertility, then improvement in IVF success rates over the last decade mean that we are now able to offer cost-effective treatment with a single IVF cycle."

Medical advances mean this age group has similar success rates to that of younger women when the original guidelines were introduced in 2004.

The update still recommends women under 40 are offered three cycles of IVF.

Posted 21/02/2013 by richard.hook@pavpub.com