Singapore—In-vitro fertilization (IVF) has been in the news lately since the recent announcement that the age limit has been lifted for women who wish to pursue assisted reproduction.
While women from the ages of 45 and older still need to get clearance from doctors in order to ensure “the best outcome for the mother and child,” the lifting of the age limit is reflective of more and more women’s choices to delay marriage and motherhood.
A report from The Straits Times (ST) says that while many would-be parents seeking assisted reproduction go abroad, sometimes to countries as far as Australia or the United States for IVF-donor eggs, others have found the option of merely going across the border to Malaysia instead.
The head of Heart to ART, a Selangor-based company that matches egg donors with couples, Christine Gautaman, said that one out of every five clients who’ve availed of their services of egg donation or surrogacy, is from Singapore.
A number of her clients are Singaporean women in their 40s.
Ms Gautaman told ST that couples from Singapore choose to have egg donors from women they do not know in order to prevent ties with the donor, which allows them to bring up the children as their own.
IVF via a donor egg costs RM$50,000 ($16,300). This includes the costs for the procedure of retrieving the eggs of the donor, the IVF treatment for the would-be mother, as well as the fee paid to the donor of the eggs.
The procedures are carried out in Malaysia.
Ms Gautaman gave a profile of sorts for the Malaysian egg donors, saying that many of them are university graduates, and some are professionals, including accountants, lawyers and doctors.
They are also quite youthful, with ages between 21 and 32.
She told ST, “These ladies are very well aware of the gift of life they are giving to their recipients and although they do receive some remuneration for their time and effort, they generally are doing this to help others.”
The ST report also says that there are not many Singaporean egg donors, for the following reasons: One – Singaporean egg donors may not receive payment for the retrieved eggs. Two – the process of retrieving eggs is not an easy one. And finally, some Singaporean women may be conscious of the fact that their biological children would be brought up very close to where they are.
The report adds that five women who underwent the IVF procedure and approached for their input on the matter all declined to be interviewed, saying they were uncomfortable discussing the topic.
Pursuing IVF is not a guarantee of success, however. Data from the Ministry of Health (MOH) shows that the success rate for couples who are undergoing IVF procedures and other assisted reproduction (AR) methods is only at 18 percent, or one out of every five.
In 2017, around 7,700 AR procedures were performed.
The Government has endeavoured to make IVF more affordable for couples, with co-funding of up to S$7,700 per fresh cycle for three fresh cycles, as long as the treatment is carried out in a public hospital in Singapore, along with other criteria. -/TISG
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