Let more women freeze their eggs

Fertility has always been an elusive quest for the Singapore Government, particularly in encouraging women to become mothers in the face of increasing workforce equality ("Balancing family, career requires trade-off: PM"; last Wednesday, and "Do more to help infertile couples" by Ms Lim Lay Hoon; last Saturday).

However, medical advancement can play a role in preserving fertility. It is time the Government revisited the policy of freezing eggs for single, healthy women who want to delay motherhood, whether it is for career reasons or simply because they have not met the right mate.

The arguments against freezing eggswere that women would delay motherhood for longer while carrying a false sense of security and that there were medical risks of ovarian hyperstimulation. 

However, women who are delaying motherhood have their own reasons and are responsible enough to make their own choices based on the medical risks involved.

There is no need to shelter women by restricting the choices that they can make. 

The Government heavily subsidises in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment for married couples. The process of extracting the eggs during IVF treatment carries the exact same risk of ovarian hyperstimulation.

Also, it has been scientifically proven that the viability of eggs depends on the age of the mother.

By freezing the eggs when women are younger, their fertility can be better preserved for IVF, if necessary, in later years. 

As with all medical procedures, there are indeed risks. But this is a discussion women should be having with their gynaecologists. 

It has been reported that many Singaporean women have headed overseas to have their eggs stored.

If these women do eventually use the eggs, they would have to be overseas for the IVF procedure, for logistical reasons, and could possibly even give birth in those countries.

The restriction on freezing a woman's eggs runs counter to the aims and aspirations of the Government and Singaporeans. 

Phang Sui Ling (Ms)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 07, 2015, with the headline 'Let more women freeze their eggs'. Print Edition | Subscribe