A story about how egg freezing may become legal in Singapore

Singapore is getting ready for women to have choice to freez their eggs.

Joanne Peh

6 Apr, 2022

A story about how egg freezing may become legal in Singapore | Sexual Educator News

Unlike sperm, the number of eggs does not increase since they were born, and the quality of eggs is said to deteriorate as women age.

The above physical limitations remain the same even with the recent days, along with changes in lifestyle.

Therefore, freezing eggs at a young age to prepare for future pregnancies and childbirth is attracting attention both in Japan and abroad.

In Singapore, as of 2022, the population is only 5.69 million, yet the birthrate is declining and aging.

It is said that by 2030, 27% of the country's population will be 65 years old or older.

In response to these challenges, the Singapore government has been working for decades to improve the fertility rate, but until recently, egg freezing in Singapore was only permitted for medical reasons.

Medical reasons include, for example, when the necessary treatment is known to affect fertility or when the risk of ovarian cancer requires removal of the ovaries or fallopian tubes.

However, a survey conducted in 2019 found that more than 6 in 10 respondents supported egg freezing, and an online petition calling for lifting the ban on egg freezing at that time received so much attention that more than 8,000 signatures were collected.

In Singapore, a woman's status as a spouse largely determines her fertility choices. Even among the wealthy, only married heterosexual women can receive assisted reproductive medical treatment, such as in-vitro fertilization and intrauterine insemination, which are popular worldwide, and single women are not eligible for such medical procedures.

Sperm donors are likewise restricted to married women. 

It is believed that the national message was in the background: have children, but have them as part of a traditional family.

However, the policy guidance issued by the Singapore government in March 2022 proposes to allow women aged 21 to 35 to freeze their eggs for non-medical reasons starting in 2023, and it can be read that the ban on egg freezing is based on free will is approaching in Singapore.

Population Control Measures by the Singaporean Government

Singapore's population plan has undergone twists and turns.

After independence in 1965, the government, fearing an overburdened economy, implemented aggressive anti-natal policies to delay the postwar baby boom.

Most population control procedures, such as sterilization and abortion (both still legal in Singapore today), were encouraged, sometimes with financial rewards.

For example, some women were offered incentives for having their fallopian tubes cut after their first or second childbirth.

Families with more than the recommended two children had to bear the increased medical costs of each birth, and were given lower priority for the housing assistance they received from the government.

Efforts to stem population growth were so successful that the number of births per 1,000 population dropped by almost half (from 29.5 to 16.6) over the next two decades.

In fact, in the 1980s, Singapore's fertility rate declined to the point where the population could not sustain itself.

Singapore Government's Policy

The Singapore government's

"Only two children"

campaign was changed in 1987

to "Have three or more children if you can afford it."

At the same time as this campaign, the policy of bearing the high cost of having children was dramatically changed, and now households with two children are entitled to preferential treatment in the form of incentives, childcare subsidies, and paid parental leave worth up to S$166,000 (about 1.5 million Japanese yen). 

The new system is designed to help the elderly to become more productive and to improve their health and well-being.

However, the mindset instilled in Singaporeans by the government in the 1960s has not been easily restored, even with the subsequent intensification of efforts to improve the birth rate.

From a socioeconomic perspective, the idea that it is better not to have children or not to have children has taken hold.

The birth rate, which has declined since the 1980s, has not recovered, falling to a historic low of 1.1 children per woman last year, not even half the recent global average of 2.4 children per woman.

Combined with a rapidly aging society, this has rekindled old concerns about the excessive burden on the economy.

Background on Egg Freezing Deregulation

Today, Singaporeans, especially women, are marrying and raising children at an older age, either to advance their careers or simply because they have not found the right person to be together with. 

Between 2010 and 2020, the percentage of single women increased across all age groups, but especially among women aged 25 to 29.

While the Singapore government encourages women to marry and have children at a young age, the government has also announced that it recognizes the fact that many women worry about not finding a suitable partner when they are young, but also want to have the opportunity to get pregnant and start a family when they marry later in life.

After considering various options, the Singaporean government has announced that it is proposing to allow women to undergo elective egg freezing.

Selective egg freezing is said to be scheduled to be implemented in early 2023 with the introduction of the Assisted Reproductive Services Ordinance under the Medical Services Act.

However, a government spokesperson also reported that even with selective freezing, only legally married couples will be able to apply to use their eggs for procreation and that the upper age limit will be 35 years old, within certain restrictions.

Even with the restrictions, the elimination of the need to go abroad to undergo the procedure for egg freezing will reduce the physical and financial burden, and will certainly be a factor in the decision to freeze eggs.




© 2021 - 2023 Sexual Educator. All Rights Reserved.