Britain's health watchdog recommended that women should be offered IVF fertility treatment on the NHS up the age of 42 rather than the current limit of 39.
The new guidelines also recommend IVF -- or in vitro fertilisation treatment -- for eligible women of any age up to 42 who have failed to conceive after two years of attempts, a year less than previously recommended.
AdvertisementThe National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines, which apply to women in England and Wales only, also cover women who have been having artificial insemination, which can include same-sex couples for the first time.
Women aged 40-42 who have not conceived after two years of regular unprotected intercourse or 12 cycles of artificial insemination should be offered one full cycle of IVF, the guidelines say, adding that women under 40 who have not conceived after two years should be offered three cycles.
Around one in every seven heterosexual couple in Britain who are trying to have a baby experience infertility, NICE said.
"We know fertility problems can have a potentially devastating effect on people's lives, causing significant distress, depression and possibly leading to the breakdown of relationships," NICE chief executive Andrew Dillon said.
"The good news is that, thanks to a number of medical advances over the years, many fertility problems can be treated effectively."
"It is because of these new advances that that we have been able to update our guideline on fertility, ensuring that the right support, care and treatment is available to those who will benefit the most."
But some fertility groups fear the guidelines may not lead to changes as they are not mandatory.
The National Infertility Awareness Campaign (NIAC) warned that as NICE guidelines are not binding, fears still remained over local implementation.
"The current 'postcode lottery' approach to the treatment of infertility here has gone on for far too long," chairwoman Clare Lewis-Jones said.
"It is vital that the government supports the measures in the updated guideline and communicates the need to implement them to those who commission fertility services in the NHS."
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