The global decline in fertility rates doesn’t affect everyone, but there are an increasing number of parents that find conceiving a challenge. Advancements in fertility treatments have made Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART) more effective and accessible, however they can often come with high fees. In a country like Singapore, people are spoiled for choice in terms of seeking medical care; the Lion City boasts one of the most advanced healthcare systems in the world.
That said, there are still only a few specialized facilities that are capable of providing treatments, such as In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), here. This week, leading insurance broker Pacific Prime Singapore highlights what you need to know about seeking out IVF, and offers a valuable, downloadable IVF guide free for hopeful parents.
Fertility in Singapore
There are a number of reasons why fertility rates are in decline. Many of the reasons rates are falling globally are applicable in Singapore; lower mortality rates due to more affluent lifestyles have seen many people focus on their career and financial security before embarking on their journey as a parent. There are also higher rates of sexually transmitted disease, the rise in obesity, and other environmental factors that impact on a man or woman’s ability to reproduce as well.
Women, especially, see their ability to conceive reduce as they get older. It’s not so much that they’re producing poor quality eggs, but simply that their ovarian reserves begin to deplete as time goes on. Men’s infertility problems generally stem from the quantity and quality of their sperm, something Andrology Australia has stated leaves one in 20 men with difficulty reproducing.
As a result of all of these factors, nearly 15% of Singaporeans are affected by fertility issues, with SingHealth stating issues affect one in 7 in the city. These stats are seeing many Singaporeans, locals and expats, seeking out treatment at one of the country’s capable medical facilities that provide infertility treatments.
Are these facilities effective? Well, facilities that provide ART and IVF services measure their effectiveness by success rates. There’s unfortunately no guarantee that treatments like In Vitro Fertilization will result in a pregnancy, however some of the best hospitals boast success rates of 64%, while the lowest rates seen have been 16%.
What’s involved in In Vitro Fertilization treatments?
As one of many ART services available to assist would-be parents with fertility issues, IVF was previously a mysterious procedure that produced what people used to call “test-tube babies”. This was owing to the fact that In Vitro Fertilization involves combining a woman’s eggs and a man’s sperm outside the body, then reinserting the fertilized egg back into the womb for pregnancy to begin.
Essentially, IVF treatments are used to treat those who have been diagnosed with endometriosis, low sperm count, uterus or fallopian tube issues, ovulation problems, antibody issues affecting sperm or egg safety, low sperm survival rates, or other currently inexplicable fertility problems.
The In Vitro Fertilization process itself entails:
- Ovulation induction: This is where your fertility specialist will monitor a woman’s ovaries and eggs, her hormone levels, and a number of other factors. Fertility medicines are a common feature, which can be used to help stimulate the ovaries into producing more eggs and increasing the likelihood of pregnancy occurring.
- Egg retrieval: When the eggs are ready, your fertility specialist will retrieve them from your body using a needle and a vaginal ultrasound. The eggs are then placed into a culture dish containing nutrient media and transferred to an incubator.
- Fertilization: Once the egg has been retrieved, a sperm sample is secured from the man and eventually mixed with the egg in a special chamber, or directly injected into the egg in some cases. Incubation begins again and they are monitored to ensure a healthy embryo develops.
- Implantation: The final stage is to select a healthy embryo and transfer it via a speculum. The embryo is implanted back into the uterine cavity, through the cervix, then bed rest is typically advised for a period of around 24 hours.
A key consideration to think about with In Vitro Fertilization treatment is that the success rates mentioned above stress that conceiving on your first cycle is not guaranteed. In fact, some people take several cycles of IVF before they’re able to become to pregnant.
In Vitro Fertilization in Singapore
According to the Straits Times, there were 6,044 assisted reproduction cycles carried out in 2015 (up from 5,000 in 2012). IVF treatments make up the majority of these cycles, and hopeful parents can seek assistance from the following medical centres:
- Gleneagles Hospital
- National University Hospital
- KK Women’s & Children’s Hospital
- Mount Elizabeth Hospital
- Thomson Medical Centre
- Singapore General Hospital
The success rates associated with seeking IVF in Singapore through these clinics can be found inside Pacific Prime’s In Vitro Fertilization Guide 2017-2018. The free resource also holds information on the costs of treatments in the Lion City, of which you can expect a cycle to cost between SGD 10,000 and 14,000. Cost is a huge factor that many face when considering IVF, and many wonder if their health insurance might cover treatments.
Will insurance cover IVF?
For local citizens and expats with Permanent Residency, the local government provides some subsidies for the costs associated with In Vitro Fertilization. These cycles are undertaken at public hospitals, however the subsidized cost can still be quite high for many. Private health insurance is an option, as there are health care plans in Singapore that offer IVF coverage, however many impose a wait-period of 12 months or more before coverage applies.
Our best advice, if you’re thinking about starting a family in future, is to secure comprehensive medical insurance that offers IVF coverage. There’s every chance that you might not need it but, if you do, purchasing it after you know it’s necessary can mean waiting even longer to add a new addition to your family. Finding health insurance in Singapore is easy when you use a broker like Pacific Prime Singapore.
Our expert advisers have helped many men and women with meeting the costs of their fertility treatments, securing maternity coverage, and providing health insurance for the whole family. To find out more about your options for IVF in Singapore, download the free guide at their Resources page or contact their team today!
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