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Elective egg freezing of married women must involve husband

by Dr Alexis Heng Boon Chin

Elective egg freezing (EEF) will be available for both single and married women in Singapore from July 2023. It is imperative that a married woman undergoing EEF should also have her husband undergo compulsory pre-procedure counselling together with her, and give his mutual consent before his wife can undergo the procedure.

This would thus be consistent with official Government pro-natalist policy within the context of marriage and traditional family structure; whereby the husband’s role and involvement constitute an integral part of any solution to pertinent fertility challenges.

Marriage is based on trust and facing difficult life challenges together as a couple. Hence there should be joint decision-making and mutual consent by both spouses on important choices that would affect their future fertility and child rearing, such as EEF.

Among the consequences of EEF, is the need to undergo expensive IVF treatment in the future, as well as possible reduced chances of future conception for the couple, compared to them trying to conceive now or in the near future.

Given such profound implications, it is only right that the husband should undergo counselling together with his wife, so as to facilitate joint decision-making by both spouses in mutually consenting to the wife undergoing EEF.

Additionally, joint counselling will also encourage the couple to consider alternative choices when deliberating on EEF.

For example, is it worthwhile to have lowered chances of conception with EEF in future, rather than trying to conceive at present? It is also well-known that embryos produced after IVF are much more robust and hardy than unfertilized eggs, and can survive the freezing process much better.

So instead of EEF, the couple can consider undergoing IVF to produce embryos for freezing, which can then be conveniently used to conceive a child with better success rates, whenever they think the time is right.

Perhaps an exception can be made for married women in the midst of divorce proceedings and who are estranged or separated from their husbands. Married women under such circumstances should be permitted to undergo EEF without their husband’s consent.

Dr Alexis Heng Boon Chin is a Singaporean who is an Associate Professor of Biomedical Science at Peking University, China. He had previously worked on IVF research in Singapore.

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