Social Egg Freezing: Preserving Fertility in Singapore

Social Egg Freezing: Preserving Fertility in Singapore

Age is an important factor when it comes to fertility in females. While it is not possible to halt the ageing process, there surely are alternative methods to preserve fertility. Social egg freezing, also known as 'mature oocyte cryopreservation', is one such process used to preserve a woman's ability to conceive in the future. In this article, we explore what social egg freezing is all about, the laws and regulations governing social egg freezing in Singapore, and how it could benefit couples in realising their lifelong dream of having a family one day.

What is Social Egg Freezing (SEF)?

Social egg freezing, in its simplest form, is extracting and preserving the healthy eggs of a female for later fertilisation.

This could be done for two reasons.

  1. 1. Medical: generally, a patient undergoing chemotherapy or radiotherapy may choose to freeze their eggs as such treatments may adversely affect fertility. Furthermore, patients with higher chances of developing ovarian cancer later in their lives may be required to surgically remove their ovaries upon medical advice. In such cases, preserving the eggs by means of freezing leaves them with the possibility of bearing a child later.
  2. 2. Elective: Women also often consider freezing their eggs in their late twenties to mid-thirties in order to postpone parenthood. According to research, being single is one of the top reasons women freeze their eggs, but it is not the only one. Many women postpone having children in order to pursue advanced education or a demanding career.

How it is Done: The Procedure

The steps involved in social egg freezing are quite similar to the initial steps of a standard IVF treatment in Singapore.

Ovarian stimulation and monitoring

Step 1: Daily administration of hormones for the eggs to mature for 10-12 days.

Step 2: Regular monitoring of blood levels and ultrasound scans to determine egg release.

Egg retrieval and preservation

Step 3: Retrieval of the matured eggs: done under anaesthesia as an outpatient procedure. This will take about 15 - 30 minutes.

Step 4: Inspection and freezing (preserving) of extracted eggs by a qualified embryologist.

Why is SEF Considered a Favourable Option?

It is a known fact that females are born with their lifetime supply of eggs, and as women grow older, the quality and quantity of their eggs decline. The onset of ovulation and menstruation marks the beginning of a girl's reproductive years. It is widely assumed that following menopause, women are no longer able to conceive. In general, women's reproductive capacity declines as they age, and fertility can be predicted to end 5 to 10 years before menopause. According to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, "A woman's best reproductive years are in her 20s. Fertility gradually declines in the 30s, particularly after age 35."

Social Egg Freezing and IVF Success Rates

A study conducted by leading researchers involving a sample of 520 healthy women has found out that,

- Women under the age of 35 who freeze 20 - 30 eggs have an IVF success rate of 70 - 90% with at least one live birth. This can also be more cost effective than doing IVF cycles above the age of 40.

This shows that freezing eggs at a younger age can make it easier for a woman to get pregnant through IVF treatment in Singapore when she is ready to do so.

Younger women have A-grade eggs (top quality eggs) that are less prone to genetic embryo health complications when fertilised and have a higher probability of responding positively to egg freezing preparation treatments.

Social Egg Freezing vs Embryo Freezing

Social egg freezing involves harvesting healthy eggs from your ovaries and storing them for later use. When and if someone wants to get pregnant, these frozen eggs can be thawed, mixed with sperm in a lab, and inserted into the uterus through an IVF treatment procedure.

Embryo freezing, on the other hand, involves the insertion of a healthy sperm into the retrieved egg to form the embryo first. This procedure is carried out in a laboratory under optimum conditions. During a single procedure, multiple eggs are fertilised with sperm, and this results in multiple embryos that could be frozen for later use. The implantation of the frozen embryos can result in a successful pregnancy.

The younger you are at the time of egg freezing, the higher the likelihood that you'll have a live birth in the future.

Laws Governing Social Egg Freezing in Singapore

The Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) of Singapore stated in 2020 that they must consider "ethical and societal concerns over legalising egg freezing", among other factors, and thereby only permitted SEF for medical reasons.

However, in a ground-breaking move, the government has now made elective social egg freezing legal in Singapore, effective January 2023. This new legislature allows women aged between 21 and 35 to freeze their eggs to conceive when and if they decide to marry and bear offspring.

This, indeed, will give women more freedom and self-will to decide when they want to start a family. They could focus on achieving their educational and professional goals, establishing a good financial footing, and emotionally preparing themselves for motherhood without having to race against the biological clock.

How Seng's OG Clinic Can Help You

If you're considering freezing your eggs or embryos, it is absolutely necessary that you look for a fertility clinic with expertise in the field. Committed to the healthcare of women for over 15 years, Seng's OG is home to the best fertility specialists and most advanced laboratory facilities in Singapore. Dr. Seng Shay Way, the Clinical Director of Seng's OG, comes with over 20 years of experience in teaching and treating reproductive disorders and infertility, with special emphasis on fertility treatment and fertility preservation. Join hands with Seng's OG as your clinical partner in your journey to fertility preservation and pregnancy. Speak to our fertility specialists on 6472 7988 today.