Recent studies have shown that Singapore has low fertility rates due to reasons including high living costs in the country. It is a common scenario in Singapore that couples delay having children and focus more on their career. Practically, couples in SIngapore tend to wait to become more financially stable before starting a family. Still, ideal as it may seem, waiting longer before having children can result in some problems as factors such as natural aging affects fertility in both men and women. This is where fertility screening becomes useful.
In Singapore, a medical professional commonly called a fertility doctor conducts a fertility screening. Fertility screening is frequently done to check for infertility in couples attempting to conceive a child and also provide an explanation for early or frequent miscarriages, in some cases. Additionally, in the current medical setting, fertility screening is now encouraged to be sought early by couples when wanting to have children in the future. Early fertility screening is advantageous since it enables couples and physicians to treat any medical issues that may prevent couples from having children in the future. Aside from plans to have children after a few years, those who belong to the below conditions should likewise go for an early fertility screen:
- Females who are planning to have children at 35 years old and older
- Females who have abnormal/irregular and/or painful periods
- Either the male or female possesses any abnormalities in his/her reproductive system
- Have a history of surgeries concerning the abdomen, genetal organs or pelvis
- Suffered from infectious diseases that have possibly affected the reproductive system
- No penetration during sexual intercourse of the couples
- Have history of cancer (e.g. cancer survivors)
Getting pregnant and giving birth to a healthy child takes a man and woman, so thus fertility screening. It is the woman who is the focus of the majority of the examinations during a fertility screening but the male needs to go through a crucial test too. The chances of a couple becoming pregnant naturally may be impacted by one or more factors, which may be caused by the woman, the male, or perhaps both.
Infertility in males and females are caused by a lot of reasons. For males, infertility occurs when there is a health issue that affects the production of healthy sperm (e.g. low testosterone count, low sperm count, etc.) or when there is an issue with how the sperm reaches the egg, of the female such as erectile dysfunction, blocked sperm ducts, etc. on the other hand, for the females, infertility can happen when healthy egg production is problematic (caused by hormonal imbalances, having polycystic ovary syndrome or PCOS; or when egg cannot travel properly from the ovaries of the woman to the womb (can be caused by blocked fallopian tubes) or when the already fertilized egg of the woman fails to implant itself in womb as it should (having fibroids, endometriosis, cysts, etc.)
Here are the common tests performed during a fertility screening in Singapore:
- Comprehensive review of medical history (Male and Female)
Both the male and female will need to undergo a discussion with the doctor to check medical history which will normally involve questions in both personal and family history (any disease/cancer or surgeries, etc.), and lifestyle practices (smoking, drinking, etc.). Some intimate information such as duration of time the couple is trying to conceive, how often is the sexual intercourse, use of contraception, etc., will be asked as part of data gathering as well. Some questions specific to women will be asked too concerning previous pregnancies (if any), menstruation, etc.
- Ultrasound of the Womb/Pelvic Ultrasound (Female)
Women will need to undergo an ultrasound of the womb during a fertility screening to detect any abnormalities in the womb such as polyps, fibroids, etc. The ultrasound process could be transvaginal or transabdominal, depending on the information to be gathered. A transvaginal exam offers precise information in a smaller space while a transabdominal exam offers a broad view of the pelvic organs of the female. If more detailed images are required, transabdominal ultrasound is occasionally performed first and then a transvaginal exam afterwards.
- Hysterosalpingogram (Female)
Hysterosalpingogram (HSG) is an X-ray procedure used to check the insides of the fallopian tubes and the uterus of a woman. HSG can show if the fallopian tubes are blocked (partially or fully) and if the uterus is of normal size and shape which are vital information to address problems in pregnancy and infertility.
- Semen Analysis or Sperm Count Test (Male)
The semen analysis is done to capture information such as sperm count, sperm structure/shape and sperm motility (movement) to check for the sperm health and viability of a male partner. This test is often conducted separately at least 2-3 times to be able to get a clear idea of the health of the sperm.
- Blood tests (Female)
Blood tests for thyroid hormones or particular female hormones may be used in fertility screening to identify any underlying hormonal imbalance issues
Undergoing fertility screening tests will then determine the issues on fertility and if treatments are necessary or possible. The results of the screening can be a basis to seek additional help from doctors who specialize in certain treatments (such as In Vitro Fertilization or IVF)) to increase chances of getting pregnant.
Cost of Fertility Screening in Singapore
The typical cost of a fertility screening in Singapore ranges from $450 to $1,200. There are only 3 government hospitals in Singapore that offer fertility screening – the Singapore General Hospital (SGH), KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH) and the National University Hospital (NUH) where a referral will be required and subsidized rates can be availed if eligible. Government hospitals currently do not offer basic packages. Private Medical private centers offer various packages for fertility screening where some are not inclusive of consultation fees and some cover other charges. Some packages may require more than 1 consultation and additional testing. In terms of usage of Medisave or insurance, check first with the clinic and also to your insurance provider for proper guidance.
The Health Advisory Clinic
#04-49 One Raffles Place
1 Raffles Place, Singapore 048616
+65 6226 6442