Infertility hits one in five Singapore couples
- Infertility hits one in five Singapore couples [Corrected 01/03/03]
3 January 2003
SINGAPORE, Jan 3 (AFP) - One in five married couples in Singapore now
find it difficult to conceive, with the city-state's high- pressure
life and demanding education system possibly part of the blame, a
senior fertility doctor said Friday.
The 20 percent figure shows Singapore moving into the upper end of
infertility rates in developed countries which range between 15 and
Christopher Chen, who heads the invitro fertilisation clinic at
Gleneagles Hospital here, told AFP that infertility has risen
steadily since the early 1980s when it stood at around 10 percent.
The high infertility data comes as the government wrestles with the
problem of a declining population, as the fertility rate languishes
below 1.5 children per woman, well short of the 2.15 necessary for a
population to replace itself.
The declining birth numbers have been attributed in part to
Singaporeans putting career and money as their top priorities ahead
of starting a family, as well as multiple medical reasons.
Chen said men now contributed to 40 percent of infertility cases, and
the number was rising, while medical problems once primarly seen in
women in their late 30s and 40s are now found in women in their early
"Why this happens, we don't know but we feel it could be the stress,"
"In today's environment there's a lot of pressure on children to
perform well to get into the best stream at school. Stress does
contribute to infertility."
Rising infertility has resulted in increasing numbers of single
Singaporeans undergoing fertility tests before getting married.
"A couple of years ago, we did not see couples requesting pre-
marital fertility assessment, but this has started happening over the
last two years, especially the last year,' Chen told the Straits
He said the tests can help rescue the situation early.
Some couples spend the first two years of marriage using
contraception, then spend two years trying in vain to have a baby "so
a good four to five years are wasted before they seek help,' he said.
In Singapore, most couples wait until their 30s to start a family.
The three public hospitals in the tiny city-state are each seeing 20-
30 new infertility cases each week.
The number of births in Singapore fell from 47,000 in 1997 to 41,775
in 2001. For the first six months of last year, there were only
Singapore has long been concerned about its declining birth rate, and
has provided a number of incentives for people to get married and
start a family.
The government encourages employers to offer flexible work hours so
couples can spend more "quality time" together, it has introduced a
baby-bonus scheme to encourage bigger families, and there is a state-
run dating agency.