Wounded veterans have more options to help start a family because of a new Veterans Affairs Department rule adopted on Thursday.

The VA now offers in vitro fertilization to veterans who cannot conceive naturally because of injuries sustained in combat. It also offers the treatment to spouses of wounded service members whose injuries make natural procreation impossible.

The new rule follows the passage of legislation in Congress three months ago that authorized the action.

"For more than two decades, because of an outdated ban, our country has denied veterans with service-connected injuries the one procedure that could help them realize their dreams of having children of their own," Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said in September when the provision passed as part of the continuing resolution.

The widespread use of improvised explosive devices in Iraq and Afghanistan has increased the rates of genitourinary, blast, spinal and brain injuries that can leave service members unable to conceive naturally, according to a release from Murray's office.

The VA previously offered other fertility treatments, but not in vitro fertilization, which fertilizes an egg outside of the body before implanting it in the uterus. The services offered to veterans now match what is offered to active-duty troops who were still within the Defense Department medical system.