Patients who are trying to obtain infertility treatment on the NHS face a postcode lottery and may have to seek private treatment in some areas in order to conceive, new figures suggest.
A survey of English primary care trusts (PCTs) revealed that some areas offer three full cycles of IVF per couple while others refuse it on the grounds of smoking, weight, or existing children from a previous relationship.
The survey, which was carried out by the Department of Health, also found that four areas do not offer infertility treatment at all.
Susan Seenan, a spokeswoman for the charity Infertility Network UK, told the BBC that some PCTs were also setting age limits so that women had to be over the age of 35 before they became eligible for infertility treatment.
"It has been four years [since guidance was introduced], which is quite long enough to implement the guidance," she noted, adding: "It's all about rationing treatment to save money."
Figures show that between a fifth and a quarter of all couples of childbearing age experience fertility problems.