Couples denied fertility treatment if man is too old or overweight

The onus of childbirth is very often placed on women. But now  hopes of a child are off the cards for some couples due to local health services putting more scrutiny on hopeful fathers.

Lydia Morrish
Lydia Morrish NewsMavens, United Kingdom
Couples denied fertility treatment if man is too old or overweight - NewsMavens
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Why this story matters:

In England, reduced investment in fertility services funded by the government-funded National Health Service (NHS) is leading to couples being denied IVF treatment based on the condition of the male.

Nearly one-third of local health commissioning groups are turning down couples based on a man's body mass index (BMI), according to an audit by fertility campaign group Fertility Fairness.

This is despite a man's BMI and age not forming part of national guidelines on who can receive IVF.

Equally, couples are being turned down if the to-be father is deemed to be too old.

The guidelines say that men should be informed that they are likely to have reduced fertility if they have a BMI of 30 or over, but they do not stipulate they should be declined treatment. The guidelines also say couples should be told that "female fertility (and to a lesser extent) male fertility decline with age."

Details from the story:

  • Campaign group Fertility Fairness carried out an audit of Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), NHS bodies that are responsible for planning and commissioning health care services in local areas.
  • It found that as well as turning down IVF based on men's age or weight, the number of CCGs in England offering the recommended three IVF cycles to eligible women under 40 has halved in the last five years.
  • Meanwhile, just 12% was found to follow national guidance, down from 24% in 2013.
  • The number of groups offering NHS-funded IVF has also halved in the past year, the group found.
  • Fertility Fairness, that is pushing for fair access to NHS-funded fertility treatment through its data published today, put the reductions in treatment down to cuts in investment to fertility treatments, a lack of keeping to the national guidelines and a "postcode lottery" of which local group will supply IVF treatment.
  • Susan Seenan, co-chair of Fertility Fairness and chief executive of patient charity Fertility Network UK, said: "The Government should be ashamed that, after 40 years of IVF, it is your postcode and your pay packet, and not your medical need, which are the key determinants of whether you will be able to try IVF.’"
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