What is the best method to detect ovulation?

Q. Can I use cervical mucus and basal temperature concurrently to detect ovulation?
Question Mark, via e-mail

A. For basal body temperature, it should be taken every morning before you brush your teeth or have breakfast. The thermometer can be placed next to your bed so that you can use it immediately on waking up. After ovulation, there will be a rise of about 0.5 degrees celsius sustained over the next 3 days. For cervical mucus, just before or on ovulation day, the mucus will be very clear and stretchy, like raw egg-white. You can pull it into a long string. If you were to place the mucus on glass, you will see a fern-like pattern. both methods may be affected by other factors and one may need a few cycles to assess its accuracy. The methods combined together is useful for conception but may not be as useful for contraception.

Dr Christopher Chong is a Consultant Obstetrician and Urogynaecologist at Gleneagles Medical Centre.

Couple Name Myth

Should a couple with the same surnames be worried?

Q. My boyfriend and I are planning to get married in the near future. He is 30 and I’m 28 years old. But at the moment, we are very disturbed by an issue, which is also the main concerns for both of our parents, which hinder us to get deeper into our relationship. The problem is that we have the same surname. Our parents, especially his mother is very concerned. We are looking at going for a pre-marital check, and even a DNA check, to see if we are related in some way or another, so that we would feel at ease in the future, should we get married and have children. But I was just wondering, if these the right checks to go? Can these checks tell us if we are related from long time ago? At a loss now, please help.

A. Couples who are blood-relations of each other are at a higher risk of having children who are born with health problems. For example, if the couple are first cousins, their risk of having a child born with health problems is about 6-8%, compared to the general population risk of 3-4%.Q. My boyfriend and I are planning to get married in the near future. He is 30 and I’m 28 years old. But at the moment, we are very disturbed by an issue, which is also the main concerns for both of our parents, which hinder us to get deeper into our relationship. The problem is that we have the same surname. Our parents, especially his mother is very concerned. We are looking at going for a pre-marital check, and even a DNA check, to see if we are related in some way or another, so that we would feel at ease in the future, should we get married and have children. But I was just wondering, if these the right checks to go? Can these checks tell us if we are related from long time ago? At a loss now, please help.

It would be important to find out more about the family history of both your families up to three generations ago, namely up to your great-grandparents’ generation. If there are no definite relations between the two families, having the same surname is usually not a major source of concern, especially if it is one of the commoner surnames.

You may wish to see an obstetrician or your family doctor for a pre-marital counseling or screening. A full family and medical history will be taken.
If there is a family history of any specific genetic disorders, a screening may be offered. They may also refer you to see a geneticist for further counseling or screening.

Dr Angeline Lai is a Consultant and Head of Genetics Service Department of Paediatric Medicine at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital.

Dyslexia Dilemma

Are you wondering if your child is dyslexic?

Q. I need your advice for my son is having a dyslexic-like experience as below:

My 10-year-old son is now in Primary 5. He seems like he does not like to pay attention in school and as a result he did very badly in all of his exam subjects. He also forgets what he’s learnt easily. No matter how hard we’ve tried to make him memorise it. To me as a mother, I feel like giving up on him in terms of education. He gives me the impression that he always cannot understand all the questions in the worksheet/exam and ended left it blank by giving excuses that he has no time to finish.

To be frank, I am very tired and also worried for his future if he keeps going on like that. All the school teachers and tutors always tell me that he is a smart boy ONLY he’s lazy and unattentive. And I found that this is the WORST thing for a kid like him because he is not keen in anything even writing. Is he dyslexic? How can we best manage the situation?
S. Loh, via e-mail

A. To the concerned parent,
Don’t give up!  Although it can be tiring to support a struggling child in our highly competitive education system, it is important that we persist in our efforts as our children look up to us as the adult for support.  If we are to give up now, our children will become even more demoralised.  So hang in there and tackle the problems bit by bit.

Based on what you have described, there could be many reasons why your son is not achieving in school. It is possible that he is dyslexic as he easily forgets what he learns, is disinterested in writing and is doing badly in school despite impressions that he is a rather bright boy. He could also be experiencing problems with attention, motivation, or other kinds of learning difficulties. It is hard to determine a child’s learning difficulties based solely on observations or feedback. An assessment by a qualified psychologist would be needed to objectively define the specific difficulties of the child and to recommend remediation, where appropriate.

You may wish to consider getting a psychological assessment at the Dyslexia Association of Singapore (DAS) by calling the assessment officer at 6444 5700 to set up an appointment. You can also refer to http://www.das.org.sg/aboutus/arrangeassessment.htm for more information.  Alternatively, you may wish to explore getting your child assessed by an Educational Psychologist through your child’s MOE school, in a hospital or in private practice.

Meanwhile, it may be helpful to teach your child some memory strategies since he forgets what he has learnt quickly. You can refer to websites like http://www.ldonline.org or http://www.schwablearning.org for more useful information on how to better support and help him.

Low Yung Ling is a Specialist Psychologist at the Dyslexia Association of Singapore