Did you know, not all gynaecologists are accredited IVF specialist?
Can any married couple request to do IVF after trying for a baby for more than a year without success? How many IVF centres are there in Singapore?
Need answers to the questions above? Read on as we share 5 things you need to know about IVF treatments in Singapore.
Cited in an IVF article on healthxchange.sg, 15% of couples in Singapore are affected by fertility issues, couples who have not conceived after a year of unprotected intercourse is advised not to delay a visit to a fertility doctor. IVF is just one of the fertility treatments available in Singapore, and good news, government subsidies are available which we will share more in this article.
What is IVF?
In vitro fertilisation (IVF) is an assisted conception procedure with the intent to help couples achieve a successful pregnancy.
A fresh cycle typically takes around 4 weeks for most couples and the process involves:
- Hormonal injections for 2 weeks to stimulate wife’s ovulatory process.
- Egg retrieval can be done 34 to 36 hours after the final injection and before ovulation.
- On the day of retrieval, the eggs will be injected with husband’s sperm in the laboratory, and fertilisation rates observed the following day.
- For fresh cycle transfers, embryos* can be transferred 2 to 3 days after the egg retrieval. For frozen cycle transfers, the embryos are transferred 2 to 3 weeks from wife’s first day of menses.
- A successful pregnancy can be confirmed 2 weeks later.
*Two or fewer embryos are transferred to reduce the incidence of multiple births, couples have an option to freeze excess embryos
So how soon can couples start their IVF journey? Dr Janice Tung, Consultant O&G and IVF Specialist at Thomson Fertility Centre shares that in private settings, most couples should be able to start IVF treatments within the next cycle after a comprehensive consultation and work-up first to determine the couple’s suitability for the treatment.
Some IVF cycles may take longer due to numerous reasons like inadequate number of follicles developing, premature ovulation and other medical issues. It is important to know that no one should be blamed, and spousal support plays a big part in this journey.
“The journey is tiring and frustrating, but the possibility keeps me going, not the guarantee.” ~ Myra, 34, considering IVF after trying naturally for 1.5 years.
When should IVF be considered?
IVF should be considered with the following factors:
- tried to conceive for a year with no success
- had unsuccessful IUI treatments
- has unexplained infertility
- has a low sperm count
- has severe endometriosis
- has blocked fallopian tubes
The cap on the number of IVF cycles was removed and the age limit for women getting IVF treatments was also lifted since 1 January 2020. This also means women aged 40 and above will be eligible for Government co-funding for up to two of the six co-funded ART cycles, as long as the couple had attempted assisted reproduction (AR) or Intra-Uterine Insemination (IUI) procedures before age 40. Dr Tung advises for couples to visit a fertility specialist for a comprehensive consultation sooner than later. The success rates are higher when both couples are younger.
Cost and funding
The cost of IVF treatments can differ among couples due to the specific procedure and medication they require. According to Dr. Tung, a fresh IVF cycle typically costs between $15,000 to $20,000. It's important to note that private clinics may not necessarily be more expensive, especially for couples who have depleted their co-funding or wish to undergo IVF sooner. This is because the cost of IVF is dependent on various factors such as the individual's age, complexity of their case, and medication requirements.
Couples who opt for IVF treatments through public hospitals can benefit from subsidies and use their MediSave to reduce their out-of-pocket expenses.
Image source: madeforfamilies.gov.sg
Withdrawal limits* from your spouse or your MediSave account:
- $6,000 for the first treatment cycle
- $5,000 for the second cycle
- $4,000 for the third and subsequent cycles
*The total MediSave withdrawal across cycles allowed for Assisted Conception Procedures is $15,000.
Where to go for IVF treatments?
Discuss with your spouse if the subsidised or private route suits you best.
Couples who wish to get subsidised rate, will need to get a referral from polyclinic to either KK Women's and Children's Hospital, National University Hospital or Singapore General Hospital. You will not be able to choose your preferred doctor through the subsidised route.
For private route, you may see your preferred fertility doctor for your IVF treatment.
Tip: Check out forums and fertility groups for recommendations on fertility doctors.
The government co-funds up to 75% of the IVF treatment and is available in the following three public hospitals:
- KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital: KKIVF Centre
- National University Hospital: Clinic for Human Reproduction (CHR)
- Singapore General Hospital: Centre for Assisted Reproduction (CARE)
“It’s more affordable than we think, I remember only paying $5,000 from my MediSave and the rest was covered by co-funding from the Government.” ~Alarize
You also have the option to use your MediSave to pay for your IVF treatment in both public and private fertility clinics, here are some of the private fertility clinics in Singapore:
- Thomson Fertility Centre
- Alpha IVF Centre
- Gleneagles IVF Centre
- Monash IVF Singapore
- Mount Elizabeth Fertility Centre
- Sincere IVF Centre
- Raffles Fertility Centre
- Virtus Fertility Centre
What to expect for your IVF journey
We spoke to a few ladies who have gone through IVF and here is what they would like to share with you:
“I was afraid of needles and the sight of it would make me faint, but with the patient nurses’ guidance, I was able to administer the jabs myself, I even went for acupuncture with the supported from my gynae.” ~ Alarize
“The journey of IVF requires a lot of patience and support from both spouses. The daily hormone jabs were a struggle, but the desire to have a baby was the motivation. Having a supportive boss helps too, I told my boss about me going through IVF to prepare him for my absence from work during hospital visits.” ~ JL, mummy of 9-year-old IVF twins
“We tried naturally for 4 years, had 6 failed IUIs coupled with TCM treatments and 3 failed IVFs, I was told to adopt, but we decided to try IVF one more time and I finally conceived my baby. It was a tough and lonely journey, if you ever feel the way I did, reach out and seek support. You need to be mentally and physically healthy while trying to conceive.” ~ Lyn, mummy of a 4-year-old IVF child
Remember, you are never alone in this journey, there are support groups that can help you through your IVF journey.