As the adage goes, nothing lasts forever. When it comes to fertility health, there is a collective understanding that fertility cannot stand the test of time. It declines as time goes on, taking a deep nosedive once an individual reaches 35 years of age. However, despite the early 20s being the peak childbearing years biologically, better access to contraception, increased living costs, and growing responsibilities have caused a shift in society and the general perception of childbearing and parenthood. Bit by bit, the average age of first conception is nudged back, and women are gradually having babies much later.
Fortunately, fertility treatments have made it possible to circumvent the low chance of pregnancy. One of such treatments is egg freezing, a fertility preservation technique that involves the extraction and freezing of eggs for future use. Despite being on the rise, women in Singapore found themselves unable to employ egg freezing treatments to realise their dreams of becoming a parent. Discover why this is so and how they have managed to circumvent this situation.
Currently, a sizeable number of countries permit egg freezing for women who wish to preserve their fertility in hopes to tap into family-building opportunities in the future. However, in socially conservative Singapore, the government has mandated that social egg freezing is not allowed in view of ethical and social concerns. Instead, egg freezing is only permitted for women with medical conditions that could adversely affect their fertility.
Women in Search of Other Solutions
Due to this limitation, healthy women in Singapore are going overseas to countries like Malaysia, Thailand, Australia, and the US in search for fertility clinics that offer egg freezing services. There are no official figures on how many women in Singapore have gone overseas to freeze their eggs, but anecdotal evidence suggests that the numbers have been rising.
The Future of Egg Freezing in Singapore
In view of the pressure on the ground, the Singapore government is considering lifting its ban on social egg freezing. Speaking in Parliament last February, Tampines GRC MP Cheng Li Hui suggested laws that could be introduced and implemented to address the specific concerns that governmental bodies had concerning the social and ethical issues derived from social egg freezing. Such laws include capping the age limit at 40 for social egg freezing, and making counselling mandatory for women so that they are fully informed of the financial costs and risks before undergoing the procedure.
Women’s rights group AWARE has also proposed an inclusive approach to make social egg freezing available to women from various social classes so that they too can have a shot at childbearing at a later age. Such an approach includes the introduction of more subsidies alongside the implementation of legislation that can help tackle structural issues at the workplace and support individual solutions like permitting the procedure.
AWARE isn’t the only one. In July, the People’s Action Party’s (PAP) Women’s Wing and Young PAP released a joint paper on women’s development and sought to bring change. The groups proposed that the government allow women the option to engage in egg freezing for non-medical reasons, highlighting its value as a viable approach to tackle Singapore’s declining birth rate. The groups also suggested putting in place a regulatory framework to impose conditions for the procedure, such as to only have it done within the confines of marriage. Similar to AWARE, the two groups understand that the issue is a complex and multifaceted one. As such, recommendations also include improving the gender pay gap, equal sharing of caregiving responsibilities, and introducing a whole-of-society approach to advancing women’s development.
The shift is undeniable and we may not need to wait long to see a positive change. Until then, individuals have the option to leverage other fertility treatments in Singapore or book a flight to undergo the said procedure.
Let The O&G Specialist Clinic Help You
Egg freezing offers women some reprieve from feeling like they need to take on a zero-sum approach in deciding between becoming a parent and pursuing other milestones in their prime. Until Singapore gives the green light, egg freezing treatments will remain largely inaccessible.
At The O&G Specialist Clinic, we wish to journey with you as you take steps to start a family of your own. We offer a comprehensive list of fertility treatments and infertility management to help you navigate around your infertility.
We only have your best interest in mind. Our patient-centred and patient-friendly methodology means that each fertility treatment is tailored to the needs of each individual couple in order to give you the best possible outcome.
On top of founding The O&G Specialist Clinic, Dr Loh has amassed 30 years of experience helping couples achieve their dreams of becoming parents. With the help of a renowned O&G and infertility management specialist and surgeon such as Dr Loh, you can rest assured that you are in good hands.
Let us help you realise your dreams of building a family today.