It has been a year since insurance began covering “general infertility treatments” such as artificial insemination, and “reproductive technologies” such as in vitro fertilization and micro-insemination. The fertility market in Japan is changing rapidly and there is a lot of information available, but what about the rest of the world? If women’s lifestyles and family norms vary widely by country, region, religion, and culture, so too do attempts to conceive. ──In this series that started with such a simple question, there will be local writers reporting on the front lines of fertility markets everywhere, as well as interviews with clients and medical websites. The first is from Taiwan, and the number of participants in Japan’s pregnancy tours is increasing.
PGS/PGT-A inspection is widely used in Taiwan
It is said that more and more people are trying to conceive in Taiwan, and Taiwan has started to be crowded with Japanese tourists again. The term “pregnancy travel” is also often heard. Why choose to conceive in Taiwan?
The biggest difference between Japan and Taiwan in terms of fertility treatment is that in Taiwan, “pre-implantation genetic screening” (PGS/PGT-A test) can be performed as long as you want. The chances of pregnancy naturally increase as good quality embryos can be selected through preliminary fertilization tests before transfer. In Japan, it can only be conducted in the form of clinical research at limited medical institutions. However, in Taiwan, where cutting-edge medical technology is rapidly popularized, it is easily accepted and widely disseminated. Also, egg freezing is more popular and cheaper than Japan. By the way, the PGS fee of the Nvwa Reproductive Medicine Center, which I cooperated with in this interview, is about NT$20,000 per blastocyst (approximately 87,000 yen/April 2023).
A clinic that can’t stand talking and laughing
Even more noteworthy is the brilliance of the doctors, staff and medical establishments. The moment you step into Taichung Nuwa Reproductive Medicine Center, the first thing you see is the comfortable and spacious waiting room like a hotel lounge, and the bright and friendly atmosphere of the people gathered there. In Taiwanese society, where many are naturally open-minded and friendly, it’s not uncommon for strangers to chit-chat with each other, but this is a fertility clinic. In Japan, many people care about what other people think, and they also value their privacy, so they tend to be relatively quiet. But there was no oppressive atmosphere in the clinic, and the doctors and staff were chatting and laughing.
Beginning around 2014, the number of medical institutions in Taiwan that received infertility treatment patients from Japan and other countries began to increase. It is said that due to the impact of the new crown pneumonia, the number of patients received was almost zero for a while, but now it is said to have recovered to about half of what it was before the new crown virus infection.
This time, the 39-year-old Taiwanese woman “Little Waka” (hereinafter referred to as Luo) and her husband “A Xing” (hereinafter referred to as Jane) with a charming smile agreed to be interviewed. There was a 4-month-old fetus in Luo’s womb, and they called him “Little Yasu” (An) because they hoped that they would grow up safe and sound. The couple did not have the blessing of a child for eight years after their marriage. Luo Yuan suffers from “polycystic ovary syndrome”, ovulation is blocked, and a large number of follicles accumulate in the ovaries, resulting in irregular menstruation and infertility. So, “I have irregular menstrual cycles every 3 to 6 months, and I have a chronic disease related to the immune system. It is said that despite this, it is she who is not someone else who wishes to have a child through fertility treatment.
Even where same-sex marriage laws were first implemented in Asia…
Speaking of Taiwan, the same-sex marriage law came into effect in 2019. As the first place in Asia to allow same-sex marriage, Taiwan has an open and advanced image. But on the other hand, the culture of advocating superiority runs deep, partly because Chinese society values Confucian ethics. What I often hear is the traditional value of “denso-kidai”, which means passed down from generation to generation. In the cultural background, not having children is considered the greatest unfilial piety, and not having children will bring great pressure to the family and society. The social progress of Taiwanese women is remarkable, and precisely because Taiwan has more places to play a role than Japan, it can be said that the problems faced by society such as low birth rate, late marriage, and aging after childbirth are serious problems.
According to the statistics of the Central Intelligence Agency (2021), Taiwan has become the “worst birth rate list”. The background is said to be the financial hardship of young people. Most married couples in Taiwan are working. It sounds good to say that women’s advancement in society is amazing, but the reality is that unless both spouses work full time, families cannot keep up with skyrocketing prices. Of course, housing prices and child support are high.
On the other hand, in Mr. Luo’s view, the values of “Dianshu Jidai” are deeply rooted in the hearts of today’s young people. Especially during Chinese New Year, when family members and relatives get together, they often feel stressed. This is already an infinite loop of questions, ‘when is the second? ‘” He said with a smile. “My family is in charge of me, and my in-law’s house is in charge of my husband. Modern Taiwanese women seem to have mastered the art of changing themselves according to the times and circumstances, choosing only what they need while retaining the traditional rules and customs of the past. .
Since 2017, Luo has carried out artificial insemination and in vitro fertilization twice, but both failed. Afterwards, I became pregnant, but miscarried at the 7th week. He said he blamed himself. Every time she failed, she was very upset and cried. But Mr. Luo begged: “Let me do my best.” Presumably the painful memory at that time was awakened again, and big tears overflowed from the eye sockets. I couldn’t help crying. As if wanting to break the atmosphere of the scene, Mr. Zen said: “I am in charge of injecting the stomach. I am worthy of being a doctor.” “The more you do it, the better you get. In the end, I just feel a sense of accomplishment.”