The Health Ministry has both sped up and restricted in-vitro fertilization procedures for women having trouble getting pregnant, it announced on Tuesday.

In the past, every infertile woman seeking IVF had to undergo preliminary tests with pills or injections, and only if they failed several times was she allowed to go forward with IVF at state expense. This caused wasted time for women who are near the upper limit of conception, as over the age of 40, the chances for a natural pregnancy drops significantly.

It was decided to cancel this limitation for women aged 39 and up. If a woman at this age wants to get pregnancy but is unable to do so naturally, she can apply without conditions for IVF, thereby increasing her chances of conceiving.

The ministry also decided on an limitation of the number of treatment cycles one can undergo over the age of 42. Previously, there was no such restriction. But the international medical literature has shown that beyond this age, more than three hormonal treatments have minuscule chances of succeeding. “Treatment” involves IVF carried out immediately, and not returning frozen embryos previously produced, the ministry noted.

After four IVF treatments are performed on a woman, fertility specialists must reconsider the care for women at any age. The intention is that without any positive reaction after four treatments at any age, or without a clinical pregnancy after eight cycles, a multidisciplinary team must consider whether to allow another chance.

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