Endometrial Scratch

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What is endometrial scratch?

When going through IVF, you’ll do anything to improve your chances of a successful pregnancy. Endometrial scratch is a procedure used to help embryos implant more successfully during the procedure of in-vitro fertilization.

Endometrial scratch is performed on women who did not get pregnant after transfer of good quality embryos, and in the absence of any other cause of failed implantation. Early studies into endometrial scratching have brought intriguing results, gaining the attention of infertility experts. A 2012 study found that having an endometrial scratch was 70% more likely to result in pregnancy in women with unexplained recurrent implantation failure. And researchers in 2015 concluded that endometrial scratching was more likely to improve the birth rate for women with two or more previous IVF failures.

How does scratching help implantation?

New research and evidence suggests that scratching the uterine lining causes a ‘repair reaction’ in patients with recurrent implantation failure and this may increase embryo implantation rates. The repair process releases growth factors, hormones and chemicals. The new lining which grows after the procedure is thought to be more receptive to an implanting embryo and so increases the chances of pregnancy. ‘Gene switching’ - scientists believe that the genes which are responsible for implantation of embryos are sometimes not ‘switched on’ during the time when embryos are supposed to implant. Endometrial scratching may ‘switch on’ the genes that are responsible for preparation of the endometrium for implantation, which increases the chances of pregnancy.

When is the best time to have the procedure and how is the procedure performed?

Endometrial scratching is a quick, safe and not a painful procedure ,which resembles a smear test and is performed the month prior starting IVF treatment. A very thin catheter is passed into the uterine cavity through the cervix, and one scratch is performed gently against the wall of the uterus. The procedure usually just takes a few minutes and you can leave the clinic a few minutes later. You may experience a little discomfort but no anaesthetic is required. An hour after the procedure you will be able to continue your normal daily activities. You can eat and drink normally immediately after.

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