lifestyle

Asia's low fertility rate opens opportunities in IVF market

23 Comments
By Jane Wardell and Jackie Range

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We need more babies in Japan (I cant comment on China, Korea, etc) but not by IVF. Generally Japanese women are healthy - and most women of natural childbearing age could conceive a child, if they wanted to.

Problem is they don't want to, for a variety of reasons. Being unable to conceive is very rarely one of those reasons.

Getting so desperate for babies that you start bribing women in their 40s to have them via IVF, is insanity, and comes with a whole barrel of health issues to babies and mothers in the healthiest pregnancy. Lets not forget we still don't really know the long term effects of IVF.

In Japan, we need to be focusing on women of childbearing age - 20s and early to mid 30s. We need to be providing incentives, social and financial, to make people want to have children, and not just A child.

Of course the obvious things like hoikuen places, and longer maternity leave is important, but also implemented paternity leave for fathers , better housing facilities for families in inner cities, and a sharp increase in child rearing resources like Kodomo teatte too. (Double it, triple it even! Its all coming back to the government in taxes later anyways. )

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In Japan, we need to be focusing on women of childbearing age - 20s and early to mid 30s. We need to be providing incentives, social and financial, to make people want to have children, and not just A child.

It's a woman's choice I say. One thing lost in all this is the number of abortions performed in Japan every year.

IV is one thing, but Japan also needs to get it's butt cracking on making it easier for folks who want children and can't have them with adoption services.

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While I think it's a good idea to support older couples to conceive, I also believe that low birth rates are not due to the lack of access to IVF. According to my Japanese girlfriends the reasons often include:

the partner doesn't want children they want/need to continue to work but it would be made impossible for them if they have a child no partner they can not afford the best schools and education for a kid afraid of the mama and housewife hell or afraid that the child might not perform to society's and family's high expectations (it needs to be cute, sporty and get into Todai;-))

One interesting side note - very generous financial incentives alone often don't work - it has been tried in Luxembourg and Germany among other European countries to no effect.

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Vic, you forgot the #1 reason: it hurts like hell!

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@yyj72 hahaha true! That would be my number one reason too! Especially in Japan.

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the #1 reason: it hurts like hell!

Wussy.

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Getting so desperate for babies that you start bribing women in their 40s to have them via IVF, is insanity, and comes with a whole barrel of health issues to babies and mothers in the healthiest pregnancy. Lets not forget we still don't really know the long term effects of IVF.

No, it's not insanity, it's desperation. Infertility is one of the very cruelest medical conditions a woman can face, because, at the end of the day one of our most primary purposes in life is to reproduce - and that is definitely true for women. We are hard wired to do that, and most people, probably like you, won't have to face the problem and therefore can't understand what a woman faces as she begins to realise that she may not be able to have a child.

People in that situation who consider things like surrogacy aren't insane, they are desperate.

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****improved economic conditions and making the idea of raising a family an attractive,viable proposition would certainly make Japan a country full of beautiful and intelligent babies. blaming the present situation on infertility is too simplistic.

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Wow, this article is riddled with mistakes:

In contrast, the United States has a fertility rate of around 2.01

Actually the U.S. fertility rate was 1.89 in 2011, as a a direct result of the financial crisis.

The solution here isn't IVF treatments, its a more stable economy, less "part-time" employment for young people and more economic stability for young families. More cash for young people means more babies.

This is the real problem with Japan's birth rate, the lousy way that young employees are treated for the first 5 to 10 years of "employment", which means they don't get married until about 30, and don't have children until about 35 or 40.

Giving IVF treatment to older women will just result in a higher rate of birth defects.

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No, it's not insanity, it's desperation. Infertility is one of the very cruelest medical conditions a woman can face, because, at the end of the day one of our most primary purposes in life is to reproduce - and that is definitely true for women. We are hard wired to do that, and most people, probably like you, won't have to face the problem and therefore can't understand what a woman faces as she begins to realise that she may not be able to have a child.

Tamarama - I agree that, infertility is an incredibly cruel medical condition. As someone who has always wanted children (and therefore made a decision to have them, beginning in my early twenties, and still plan to extend my family further) I cant imagine my life without children. They truly are a blessing.

However I think in Japan we are not talking about people who are suffering from infertility caused by cancer treatment, or young people with gynocological difficulties.

To be blunt - the women in Japan using IVF are having babies too late, and that is why they are running into problems with conception. They are not infertile. They are unable to conceive because of their age - because they made the choice to wait to have children, and (completely naturally) their bodies stopped being fertile. This is not infertility, this is biology.

I find women who suddenly feel inspired to have a child in their early 40s rather suspicious, actually. While I understand some life circumstances cant be helped, most women I know knew from a young age that they wanted children, and therefore had them, despite having to sacrifice things like career/vacations/louis vuitton handbags as a result.

I know its a generalization, but I cant help but wonder if women having babies so late see kids as an extension of the above - they have done the career, the wedding, the travelling and the shopping and now "lets have a baby too" .. its just an accessory - something to "do next." Certainly I find it very hard to believe that women with a burning desire to have a child, to "do what they are hardwired to do" would have left it so late in the first place.

No wonder mothers who have their first babies late in life have such a high rate of depression. When the reality of the choice they made hits, it must be staggering - I personally struggled with the sleep deprivation etc in my 20s. To choose to do it in your 40s (when your body is screaming no) is just, in my opinion, insanity.

And thats not even getting started on impact on the child of having a 40 year old mother.

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Exactly as Frungy says! Society has very high expectations too; if possible have a full time job, and babies, and also ofc take care of hubby, babies, and home. Both partners have to feel very safe to want to have kids..the body too you know. It realizes when is the right time or not. Also, personally a reason why I'm not sure I want kids is that I don't want to become like my mother.

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Kim,

Sure, the situation you describe there is an unusual one. Despite our social patterns changing in terms of marriage and careers, the biological clock has not matched it, and in your 40's having a child is starting to stretch things. Not impossible, because people do it all the time, but not ideal.

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Not everyone should have children. Can pay good genetic females to take IV from biologically superior healthy males.. pay them both.. they dont have to be married.. like the movies.. breed out genetically inferior humans... too many girls today only want to shop and spend money and buy $20,000 bags and do not want to be bothered with children and only think of themselves and having lunch with the girls and use men like they are drones anyway..

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Why isn't the adoption route considered before IVF? Aren't there babies already needing parents out there? Why make some IVF corporation rich before giving another child a rich life instead?

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Getting so desperate for babies that you start bribing women in their 40s to have them via IVF

Can you tell me where to go to get those bribes? Even with subsidies, it can cost more than a million yen a year for IVF in Japan if you are not one of the lucky ones go get pregnant in the first couple tries. I wish we knew that we could actually get paid instead of forking out millions of our own money...

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adoption has a negative stigma in Japan, it's a cultural thing. one reason I heard is because of the myth that the child might have 'ainu' blood and therefore might become violent. >___< poor ainu people. I have not earthly idea about what can be done to solve Japan and other Asian countries' low fertility rate. But yeah India and Philippines man they pop out kids like it's nothing. I remember I had a filipina co-worker at the preschool I taught in Tokyo. Her husband was Japanese and she had 5 kids, not entirely sure if she had all kids with him though...

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Japan needs to stop firing women who take parental leave. Actually, it should be made illegal to fire women who take 1 year parental leave. Furthermore, it is ridiculous that you have to pay the hospital to give birth.

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1) Low birth rate has nothing to do with fertility problem.

2) IVF serves both male and female fertility problems!

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An issue overlooked is the attitude of many young women who still live at home while they work or don't work. Those who may not want the responsibility that comes with motherhood. We sometimes read about babies being dumped. Marriage means getting to first base.

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knowitall - The government started providing subsidies for IVF in 2004. For couples earning less than ¥7.3 million annually, the government will provide ¥150,000 per IVF trial for 10 attempts within five years. Lets not forget that pregnancy is not covered by insurance either - so why the heck should IVF be?

However this is more than generous, in my opinion. It seems crazy to me that these are given in the first place, when the vast majority of women undergoing IVF in Japan are over 40. If women choose to leave it so late it is natural that they may have troubles conceiving - its caused by biology, not disease - and therefore do not deserve a penny. Women who decide to have kids (especially their first child) over 40 should not be encouraged, and should definitely not be funded by the taxpayer. The risks are much higher to mother and child.

However I am not completely anti-IVF - for example IF someone is young and has a genuine medical condition (PCOS, blocked tubes, infertility due to cancer treatment, or a husband with low sperm count) then I say that infertility treatment should be given on insurance, the same way that any other medical condition would.

Problem is, for those older women who decide one day they want a kid, but have missed the biological boat, its not a medical condition. Its a lifestyle choice.

I would quite like a boob lift and tummy tuck actually, however as my saggy tummy and granny boobs are a result of MY choice to have children and breastfeed them, I would never dream of demanding the taxpayer fund it for me. It was a lifestyle choice too. Shouganai.

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"To be blunt - the women in Japan using IVF are having babies too late, and that is why they are running into problems with conception. They are not infertile. They are unable to conceive because of their age - because they made the choice to wait to have children, and (completely naturally) their bodies stopped being fertile. This is not infertility, this is biology."

Bingo!

My wife and my 5 y.o. daughter is an IVF baby - luckily, conceived virtually first time, with no luck since. 

Judging by the typically older late 30s/40s women we see in the fertility clinic, my wife thinks all high school girls should be clearly told about their biological clocks and 'if you want to conceive naturally, do not leave it too late."

Sure, there are societal, job, financial issues involved too, but female biological clocks simply don't wait for all of that to fall into place.

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Maybe if the men in these countries would treat the women better? Nah, never happen even they go extinct.

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