In Singapore, around one in six couples face infertility issues – so, yes, it’s hardly an uncommon problem.
Causes could include anything from unexplained fertility or genetic problems to endometriosis, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (POCS) and low sperm count.
That’s where alternative conception methods come into play. These options include:
In-Vitro Fertilisation (IVF)
Intra-Cytoplasmic Sperm (ICSI)
Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)
For this piece, I’ll be focusing solely on IVF treatment costs and risks – but if you’re curious about alternatives, we’ll be covering those in-depth in future articles.
A caveat: if you have religious or personal reasons for not wanting to consider IVF, this piece may not be for you.
What Is IVF?
In-Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) refers to the process of combining a woman’s egg with sperm – but outside the body.
Once the egg has been fertilised, it’s then implanted in the woman’s uterus.
We’ll go into detail on the IVF process shortly, but something important to know is that IVF is a form of Assisted Reproduction Technology (ART). ART essentially refers to treatments for those with fertility/conception problems.
While the IVF process – aka one cycle – takes between four to six weeks, most couples are typically only successful after two cycles.
In Singapore, women can only undergo ten ART cycles up to the time they’re 40 years old.
If you’re past the age of 40, that window shrinks – to a maximum of six ART cycles.
A Step-By-Step Look At The IVF Treatment Process
- Initial Consultation
Your first consultation will involve a pelvic ultrasound (for women) and semen analysis (for men) to develop a personalised pregnancy plan.
- Ovulation Induction
In the lead-up to IVF, you’ll be required to take regular fertility injections to encourage the growth of mature eggs. These – along with your hormone levels – will be tracked through transvaginal ultrasounds or blood tests.
- Retrieval Of Eggs
36 hours prior to the retrieval of the eggs, you’ll receive a hormone injection. The eggs will then be retrieved in a procedure that takes between 10 to 30 minutes by way of an ultrasound probe. This involves guiding a needle into each ovary to extract the eggs.
- Sperm Retrieval
On the same day the eggs are retrieved, your husband will be required to contribute a sample of his sperm. Alternatively, if he has a low sperm count, donor sperm may instead be used. It’s then prepared in a special mixture to allow for fertilisation outside the body.
The sperm and eggs are placed in a dish to allow for fertilisation. If the sperm successfully fertilises the egg, you’ll get an embryo.
- Embryo Transfer
At the final stage, you’ll undergo a quick embryo transfer – likened to being similar to a pap smear. The five-minute process involves placing the embryo in a small tube – a catheter – and guiding it into the uterus. If all goes well, the embryo will implant itself around 18 days after the retrieval of your eggs.
Can I Undergo IVF If I’m Single Or Over 45 Years Old?
Unfortunately, IVF is only available to married couples in Singapore.
The good news is, the age ceiling for women will be lifted from 1 January 2020 – so even if you’re over 45 years old, you’ll soon be able to undergo the treatment.
Can I Use A Surrogate To Carry My Child?
Surrogacy is illegal in Singapore.
What is possible, however, is engaging surrogacy services overseas.
Of course, complications could then arise surrounding the child’s citizenship, among other factors.
Note: we are NOT encouraging you to do anything illegal here. So exercise judgement!
IVF Treatment Costs in Singapore
Undergoing IVF treatment in Singapore isn’t cheap – which is why some Singaporeans cross the border (to JB!), where IVF costs as low as half of the price.
At present, there over 10 fertility centres in Singapore, three of which are in public hospitals:
- Singapore General Hospital: Centre for Assisted Reproduction (CARE)
- KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital: KKIVF Centre
- National University Hospital: Clinic for Human Reproduction (CHR)
If you’re looking to go private, these are some clinics and hospitals in Singapore to consider for IVF:
- Virtus Fertility Centre
- Thomson Fertility Centre
- Mount Elizabeth Fertility Centre
- Singapore Women’s Clinic and Fertility Centre
- Gleneagles IVF Centre
Below is a quick overview of the expected costs for each step of the process. Note these are estimates only; you’ll get a concise breakdown upon consultation.
|Procedure Type||Public Hospitals (before subsidies)||Private Hospitals (No subsidies)|
|Fertility check (pelvic ultrasound and semen analysis)||$539||$299 to $400|
|Medication||$2,600 to $3,570||Dependent on individual|
|Oocyte (Egg retrieval)||$3,370 to $4,570||$7,000 to $10,000|
|Sperm collection/preparation||$1,290||Not available|
|Embryo transfer Cost||$1,490 to $2,100||$4,000 to $5,500|
|Total cost||$10,000 to $14,000||$11,000 to $20,000|
Are There IVF Subsidies in Singapore?
Fortunately, the Government recognises the need for more babies (ageing population and all that) – and how costly IVF is for many Singaporeans.
Ministry Of Health Co-Funding Scheme
Subsidies of up to 75% are available in public hospitals. These cover ART procedures including – but not limited to – IVF, IUI and ICSI.
|ART cycle (fresh embryo transfers)||ART cycle (frozen embryo transfers)|
|Singapore Citizens||75% (up to S$7,700)||75% (up to S$2,200)|
|Singapore Citizen + PR||55% (up to S$5,700)||55% (up to S$1,600)|
|Singapore Citizen + Foreigner||35% (up to S$3,600)||35% (up to S$1,000)|
You’ll also only be allowed subsidies for three fresh and three frozen cycles.
Additionally, either you or your spouse must be a Singapore citizen at the start of the ART cycle.
MediSave For Assisted Conception Procedures
Extra, extra: if the MOH subsidies aren’t enough, Singaporean couples and Singaporean-PR couples can further offset the cost through MediSave – although it’s capped at $15,000 in total, as indicated in the below table.
|IVF cycle||MediSave withdrawal limit|
|Lifetime Withdrawal limit||S$15,000|
|3rd and subsequent attempts||S$4,000|
IVF Success Rates, Side Effects and Risks
Undergoing IVF doesn’t guarantee conception.
The success rate stands at 40% – and, as with a normal pregnancy, complications may be inevitable.
IVF side effects and complications may manifest in the following ways:
- Mild side effects: Bloating, mood swings, bruising from injections, bleeding and cramping
- Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS): Only 6% to 8% of women experience mild forms of OHSS, which occurs as a response to the drugs given. Symptoms may include mild discomfort in the lower abdomen.
When Should You Consider IVF?
You might want to seek advice if:
- You’ve been attempting to conceive for 12 months without success
- For women aged 35 or older, you’ve been trying for a child for six months with no success
- You fear genetic or birth defects. In such cases, there is the option of Pre-Implantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD).
These Hidden Factors Could Also Hinder Your Fertility
Apart from genetics and/or reproductive problems, stress could interfere with your ability to conceive.
Stress intrinsically affects the hypothalamus – the gland in your brain that controls a woman’s ovulation cycle.
Other signs of constant stress include a loss in appetite and an irregular menstrual cycle.
Smoking is another obvious showstopper; apart from being detrimental to your ovaries, uterus and eggs, smokers also take far longer to conceive.
Plus, you’ll increase your risk of miscarrying or suffering an ectopic pregnancy*.
*That’s when the embryo attaches itself outside the womb, causing extreme discomfort and complications.
Undergoing IVF is an exciting yet daunting time for any couple.
With these tips in mind, you’ll now be better prepared to consider IVF treatment in Singapore.