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What Is ‘Womb Scratching,’ and Does It Help You Get Pregnant?

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Womb Scratching

a blog by Laurence A. Jacobs, M.D., Fertility Centers of Illinois, August 1, 2016

Many times, IVF or IUI fails because the endometrium is not receptive for embryo implantation. There is a technique that I have been using in my practice for years in order to help women with this problem. Endometrial scratching — also known as womb scratching — is a biopsy of the endometrium (the lining of the womb), which is believed to cause a favorable inflammation that is receptive to the implantation of the embryo.

A 2012 study published in Reproductive Medicine Online — “Local endometrial injury and IVF outcome: a systematic review and meta-analysis” — found that endometrial scratching improved outcomes in IVF treatment cycles. Now, a new study suggests that endometrial scratching may well be beneficial in couples trying to conceive naturally or with IUI.

Researchers did a Cochrane review of endometrial scratching and presented it as a poster at the 2016 Annual Meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology. They included eight trials with a total of 1,180 women in the review and found that endometrial scratching appeared to increase the chance of clinical pregnancy and live birth when compared to having no intervention or having a placebo procedure. In fact, the womb scratch appeared to roughly double the chance of live birth compared to having no procedure.

The researchers cautioned that the quality of the studies reviewed was low; however endometrial scratching is a simple, low-cost procedure that can be performed during a short office visit. During an IVF cycle, the endometrial scratch is performed several weeks prior to the embryo transfer. For IUI, the womb scratch would be performed any time during days 4-8 of the cycle.

Endometrial scratching is performed with a flexible catheter that is pushed through the cervical canal and scratches the endometrial tissue. The theory behind embryo scratching is that the inflammatory reaction caused by the procedure increases white blood cells that secrete growth factors and cytokines, which are needed for proper implantation.

Endometrial scratching is somewhat painful; in fact one of the studies reviewed reported an average 6 out of 10 on the pain skill. There is also very little risk of infection.

I have had much success with endometrial scratching through the years, especially with patients who have struggled with IVF. I offer patents who have failed IVF or several IUIs the procedure. If you have any questions about this or other fertility treatments, please contact me at