Fertility is a hushed topic in Singapore with many frivolously unaware of the often high difficulty in getting pregnant. A study found that of those actively trying for a baby, 40% had problems conceiving. The reasons behind this sometimes being stress-induced from the workplace. Singapore’s total fertility rate fell to a low of 1.14 in 2019. The trend has tended toward couples marrying later which has had an inadvertent effect on fertility.
Assistive Reproductive Technology (ART) is, by some, lauded as a magic bullet solution to the fertility problem. Though effective, it should be understood that the quality of the mothers’ eggs deteriorate with age and so should be undertaken as early as it is affordable. What is ART in the first place? Most commonly, ART involves the surgical removal of eggs from a woman’s ovaries and bringing them together with extracted sperm mechanically in a laboratory. This fertilized egg is then implanted into a surrogate or the mother’s womb (a form of artificial insemination). We call this IVF (In Vitro Fertilization)
The Singapore government has granted Singaporean couple who undergo ART treatments at any of the three public healthcare centres -National University Hospital, Singapore General Hospital and KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital, co0funding of up to $7,700 per fresh cycle and $2,200 per frozen cycle. The centres have sufficient capacity at these assisted reproduction centres for co-funded ART treatments. Couples will have to complete the necessary applications, counseling and assessments to be deemed medically fit for the procedure.
Additional information by the Ministry of Health to be taken note of:
- Patients who prefer to seek treatment at private hospitals can use MediSave to help offset the costs, up to the prevailing withdrawal limits. The Ministry does not have information on the number of couples seeking ART treatment overseas.
- The current age limit for ART treatment in Singapore, including in-vitro fertilisation (IVF), is set at 45. Women aged 45 years and above who wish to undergo ART treatment may appeal to the Ministry of Health, through their ART practitioner. In assessing the appeal, MOH may seek advice from its panel of experts where necessary. The average time for processing an appeal is currently about a week.
- As advancements in ART have improved the safety of ART procedures, the Ministry is reviewing the maximum age limit for women to undergo ART treatment in Singapore.