Endometrial scratching is a relatively new technique, which improves embryo implantation rates and increases the chances of getting pregnant. During the procedure, the lining of the uterus (the endometrium) is gently ’scratched’ using a thin catheter (a fine, flexible, sterile, plastic tube).
Research suggests scratching the uterine lining causes a reaction, which may increase embryo implantation rates and therefore the chance of pregnancy. The process releases growth and cell factors, which lead to a more receptive endometrial lining for the implanting embryo. Endometrial scratching may also ‘switch on’ the genes that are responsible for preparation of the endometrium for implantation.
Endometrial scratching is usually offered to women who have had more than two IVF, ICSI or FET cycles, which resulted in a negative pregnancy test despite having good quality embryos.
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You will have a formal consultation with a healthcare professional. During this time you will be able to explain your medical history, symptoms and raise any concerns that you might have.
We will also discuss with you whether any further diagnostic tests, such as scans or blood tests, are needed. Any additional costs will be discussed before further tests are carried out.
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The best time to perform the endometrial scratch is between day 18 and 23 of your cycle (the first day of your period counting as day one). Your consultant will give you advice to follow in the run up to your procedure.
Once you’ve booked endometrial scratching, it's vital that you don't have unprotected intercourse in the four weeks before the planned procedure, to avoid the risk of a possible pregnancy. You should wear comfortable clothing that gives easy access to the lower part of your body.
We're here to help every step of the way.
We understand that having treatment can potentially be a time of anxiety and worry. Our experienced and caring medical staff will be there for you, holding your hand, every step of the way.
Endometrial scanning isn't usually a painful procedure and although you may experience some discomfort, you won't need anaesthesia.
During the procedure, your consultant will gently insert a speculum into your vagina so the cervix can be seen. He or she will then cleanse your cervix with sterile gauze.
After this, a thin flexible catheter is inserted through the opening of your cervix and the uterine lining is gently ’scratched’. Inserting and moving the intrauterine catheter up and down may cause you mild abdominal cramping similar to period pain.
Your consultant will withdraw the catheter at the end of the procedure.
Endometrial scratching is an out-patient procedure so you won't need to stay in hospital after having it.
Most women experience either discomfort or mild cramping, period-type discomfort during the procedure. Afterwards, if required, you may take over-the-counter painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen.
You will be able to drive and resume normal daily activities after the procedure. Some mild bleeding is common and you should wear a sanitary towel, not a tampon.
Even after you’ve left hospital, we’re still looking after you every step of the way. After endometrial scratching, we will provide you with paracetamol alone or with codeine or ibuprofen.
We will provide you with a supply of all the medicines your consultant feels you need to take home with you after you've left hospital, up to 14 days. This may be at an additional cost to some patients.
On rare occasions, complications following endometrial scratching can occur. If you experience any of these symptoms – unexplained fever, persistent bleeding or foul-smelling vaginal discharge, increasing lower abdominal pain, feeling generally unwell – call us straight away. These could indicate that an infection within the cervix has spread to the uterine cavity during the procedure. Your consultant will talk to you about the possible risks and complications of having this procedure and how they apply to you.
If you have any questions or concerns, we're ready to help. .
The treatment described on this page may be adapted to meet your individual needs, so it's important to follow your healthcare professional's advice and raise any questions that you may have with them.