SINGAPORE — The age limit for women to freeze their eggs to preserve their fertility will be raised from 35 to 37 when elective egg freezing starts in Singapore on July 1.
The change comes after a review of local and international research showed that the success rates of egg freezing and subsequent usage of frozen eggs remain relatively stable for women up to 37 years of age.
Minister of State for Social and Family Development Sun Xueling announced the change during a visit to the KK Women's and Children's Hospital in-vitro fertilisation centre on Monday (May 15) afternoon.
Asked why, she pointed out that she had said in 2022 that the authorities would continue looking at medical research and speaking to medical practitioners, even after announcing the age limit of 35.
Sun said there is now "sufficient confidence" to raise the age to 37 after looking at medical research and speaking to assisted reproduction practitioners.
The authorities will continue to review the literature and "at some point if the literature from overseas studies shows that we are able to increase it beyond 37, that is something that we may consider".
A review of medical evidence has shown that success rates from using eggs from women older than 37 continue to fall, said a press release by the Ministry of Social and Family Development and the Ministry of Health on Monday.
During the 2022 parliamentary debate on elective egg freezing, Sun said the age limit of 35 is aligned with the age limit for egg donors, which is also 35.
The age limit is also determined based on international scientific evidence and professional consensus that egg quality declines significantly after 35.
And the further the Government extends the age limit, the further the success rate falls.
The age limit for egg donors will also be raised to 37 on July 1, in line with the change in age limit for elective egg freezing.
In March 2022, it was announced that women — regardless of their marital status — who are aged between 21 and 35 will be allowed to undergo elective egg freezing, which is done for non-medical reasons.
This is a major policy shift as part of the White Paper on Singapore Women's Development.
Currently, women are allowed to freeze their eggs only for medical reasons, such as when they have to undergo chemotherapy, which may adversely affect their fertility.
Egg freezing, which is performed in a fertility centre, preserves fertility as the age of the eggs remains unchanged from the moment they are frozen.
Doctors say that a woman is born with a finite number of eggs, with the number and quality of eggs declining as she ages.
Some fertility doctors had also previously pointed out that many Singaporean women who sought the procedure overseas were over 35 years of age, as they were not married or have become increasingly worried about their biological clock by their mid-30s.
Tampines GRC MP Cheng Li Hui had asked for the age limit to be raised to 40 when she spoke in Parliament in 2022 during the debate on the White Paper.
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