SINGAPORE— The age limit for Elective Egg Freezing (EEF) would be set at 37 years, instead of 35 years as originally envisaged.
In the joint statement issued by the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) and the Health Ministry (MOH) on Monday (15 May), it was noted that this decision follows a recent review of local and international evidence, which indicates that success rates of egg freezing remain relatively stable for women up to 37 years of age.
“Research at this point shows that success rates using eggs from women older than 37 years continues to decline.”
With this change, women aged 21 to 37 will now have the opportunity to undergo EEF in Singapore. Only legally married couples can utilize their frozen eggs for procreation.
In March 2022, a significant policy shift was announced as part of the White Paper on Singapore Women’s Development and will be implemented by 1 July 2023.
It stated that women between the ages of 21 and 35 would be permitted to undergo elective egg freezing, regardless of their marital status.
Currently, EEF is allowed only for medical reasons, such as in cases where they require chemotherapy that may have a negative impact on their fertility.
Egg freezing is a procedure performed at a fertility center, aimed at preserving fertility by maintaining the eggs’ age at the time of freezing. This means that the eggs do not age while in the frozen state, safeguarding their quality for potential future use.
MOH said they will continue to monitor both local and international evidence to assess the age limits for the freezing and subsequent use of eggs.
“This shift came after careful consideration, recognising that there may be women who desire to preserve their fertility, because of personal circumstances.”
“This could include the desire to marry and conceive, but being unable to find a partner while they were younger, ” the statement noted.
Minister Sun Xue Ling reiterated that the usage of frozen eggs is restricted to married individuals
Ms Sun Xueling, Minister of State for Social and Family Development and Home Affairs, reiterated the government’s encouragement for families to have children early in order to increase the chances of natural conception and reduce age-related risks associated with pregnancy.
“Nonetheless, we recognise that some women desire to preserve their fertility because of personal circumstances so that they can have the chance of conceiving and becoming parents if they marry later.”
“EEF gives women this option. Raising the age limit to 37 years will support more women in their life aspirations and allow more couples to start families, ” said Ms Sun.
According to CNA, Ms Sun also addressed a question regarding the possibility of allowing non-married women to utilize frozen eggs for procreation in the future.
“Elective egg freezing is a choice that a woman can make on her own. It is her tissue, she can choose to donate, she can choose to dispose of this tissue that is hers.”
In her response, Ms. Sun reiterated that, concerning the conception of a child, the frozen egg can only be used for parenthood within marriage and so the consent of the husband will be necessary.
AWARE urges reconsideration of restriction on in-vitro fertilization
The gender equality advocacy group in Singapore, AWARE, welcomed the recent announcement by the government.
They noted that raising the age limit for elective egg freezing from 35 to 37 allows slightly older women, who still have a reasonably good chance of conceiving, a broader timeframe to pursue this option.
However, AWARE reiterated their suggestion that the government should reconsider the rule that restricts the use of frozen eggs for in-vitro fertilization to legally married couples.
“This excludes single women and couples who also wish to become parents, but for whatever reason are not married or cannot marry.”
AWARE has been advocating for the removal of the ban on social egg freezing, highlighting the detrimental impact it has on the reproductive rights of women.
They draw attention to the discrepancy in age limits between men and women, pointing out that women have a limited timeframe for conceiving compared to men who can reproduce at later stages of life.
AWARE stressed that women should have the right to choose how and when to bear children, based on informed decisions.