Assisted conception

If you are experiencing difficulty falling pregnant, you are advised to contact your GP.

It may be necessary (but not always) for your GP to refer you to your local hospital for fertility assessments and investigations. Some patients are then advised that they will need clinical assistance in order to have a child, this is called Assisted Conception. Assisted conception encompasses a wide range of treatments including ovulation induction, Intra-Uterine Insemination (IUI), Intra Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) and In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF).  When this treatment is required, you will be referred on to an Assisted Conception Unit.

Surrey Heartlands has a policy for funding Assisted Conception procedures and treatments (CLIN05).

Eligibility for Assisted Conception

The eligibility criteria for NHS funded Assisted Conception is as follows:

Women must be under the age of 39 years and 0 days at the time of being referred by your hospital to an Assisted Conception Unit

  • This means that all investigations need to have been completed by the hospital prior to this age, when a woman is aged 38 years or younger.
  • For patients undergoing IVF, if a woman turns 40 years during their first cycle of treatment, they will be funded for the remainder of that cycle however, no further treatment will be funded.
  • The definition of a full cycle of IVF includes 1 episode of ovarian stimulation and the transfer of 1 set of fresh and 1 set of frozen (if possible) embryos.
  • There is no upper age limit for the male partner (as per adoption laws).

Duration of Infertility

  • IVF with or without ICSI will be funded where a couple have either not conceived after 3 years of regular unprotected intercourse where there is unexplained infertility, or more than 1 year where there has been a diagnosed cause.

Neither partner should have a living child

  • NHS funding is not provided if either partner has a living child, whether this is from a previous relationship or the existing one. An adopted child is considered to have the same status as a biological child.

The female partner should have a BMI of between 19 and 30

  • IVF with or without ICSI will only be funded for women who have had a BMI between 19-30 for a period of at least 6 months prior to assessment for treatment.

Both partners should be non-smokers

  • IVF with or without ICSI will only be funded for individuals where both partners have been non-smokers for a period of at least 6 months prior to assessment for treatment. 
  • Smoking individuals will be referred to an NHS smoking cessation service and demonstrate that they are non-smokers for a period of at least 6 months prior to assessment for treatment.

Women in same sex relationships and single women not in a partnership

  • NHS funding is available for sperm donation for use in intrauterine insemination (IUI) or IVF where the sperm are donated altruistically free-of-charge or are available via an NHS sperm bank or equivalent.
  • Women in this situation should be referred to specialists the same way as other women in heterosexual relationships.

Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)

  • Up to 6 cycles of IUI will be funded for patients that meet the following criteria: 
    • People who are unable to, or would find it very difficult to, have vaginal intercourse because of a clinically diagnosed physical disability or psychosexual problem who are using partner or donor sperm.
    • People with conditions that require specific consideration in relation to methods of conception (for example, after sperm washing where the man is HIV positive).
    • People in same-sex relationships.
    • People with social, cultural, or religious objections to IVF.
    • Females with no partner requiring donor sperm.

Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) Code of Practice

  • Couples must conform to the HFEA ‘Code of Practice’ to avoid being excluded from being eligible for access to NHS funded Assisted Conception.  This includes consideration of the ‘welfare of the child which may be born’ which may take into account the importance of a stable and supportive environment for children as well as the pre-existing health status of the parents.

NHS-funded Assisted Conception

Providing you fully meet the criteria for NHS-funded Assisted Conception, the Assisted Conception Unit will complete and submit a Prior Approval application on your behalf. 

Once funding has been agreed by Surrey Heartlands ICB, the Assisted Conception Unit will initiate your treatment. The criteria for Assisted Conception are listed within the Assisted Conception policy (CLIN05).

However, if you do not meet the criteria for treatment, but your consultant feels that your clinical circumstances are exceptional and therefore your treatment should be funded by the NHS, they have the option of submitting an Individual Funding Request (IFR).

Further information on IFRs can be found on our Individual Funding Requests webpage.

Funding will not be provided under the following circumstances

  • The female patient has been sterilised.
  • The cause of infertility is due to Gender Dysphoria.
  • For any elements of surrogacy procedures including the recruitment of surrogate mothers, any treatment which relates specifically to addressing fertility treatments directly associated with surrogacy arrangements, or any payments to a surrogate mother (to cover expenses, legal costs, treatments abroad or transport costs).