SINGAPORE: Singapore will remove its age limit for women undergoing in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatments, as part of a range of measures it announced on Wednesday (Aug 28) to support marriage and parenthood.
Singapore currently imposes an age limit of 45 years old for women undergoing assisted reproduction technology (ART) procedures, which include IVF treatments. This age limit will be removed from Jan 1, 2020.
A cap on the number of IVF cycles a woman can undergo – currently set at 10 cycles for women aged 40 and below, and five for women above 40 – will also be removed.
CO-FUNDING OF ART PROCEDURES
Government co-funding for ART procedures will also be enhanced.
Today, co-funding for up to six ART cycles is only available for women aged below 40 at the start of the ART cycle. From 2020, up to two of the six co-funded ART cycles can be carried out at age 40 or later, as long as the couple had attempted assisted reproduction or intra-uterine insemination (IUI) procedures before age 40.
Women also have to be assessed by their doctor to be fit to carry a pregnancy to term, MOH said.
Currently, Singaporean couples can receive co-funding of up to S$7,700 per fresh cycle and S$2,200 per frozen cycle, for three fresh cycles and three frozen cycles.
If one spouse is a permanent resident, the co-funding is up to S$5,700 per fresh cycle and S$1,600 per frozen cycle. If one spouse is a foreigner, co-funding is up to S$3,600 per fresh cycle and up to S$1,000 per frozen cycle.
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NEW SUBSIDIES FOR IUI PROCEDURES
Couples going through the less invasive IUI procedure at public assisted reproduction centres – the Singapore General Hospital, KK Women's and Children's Hospital and National University Hospital – will receive new subsidies from 2020.
Singaporean couples will receive co-funding of up to 75 per cent, capped at S$1,000 per treatment cycle, for three cycles of IUI. If one spouse is a permanent resident, the co-funding is up to S$700, and if one spouse is a foreigner, the co-funding is up to S$500.
To be eligible for the IUI co-funding, women must be below 40 years old at the start of the cycle, the couple must have been assessed by a doctor at the public assisted reproduction centre to be suitable for the treatment, and one spouse must be a Singapore citizen.
Despite the better support for older women to conceive, MOH cautioned that the probability of pregnancy complications increases with maternal age, and the success rate for ART carried out beyond age 40 remains low.
"We continue to encourage couples to marry and start their families early," the ministry said.