Since implantation is a critical step in achieving pregnancy, it follows that conditions in the endometrium need to be as favourable as possible to receive the embryo. The purpose of the endometrial scratch technique is to help ensure these conditions are met by prompting a healing mechanism in the body, along with the release of hormones, chemicals, immune cells, and growth factors conducive to implantation. This is accomplished by gently ‘scratching’ the uterine lining with a small catheter that has been passed into the uterus through the cervix opening.
The catheter can cause discomfort similar to menstrual cramps, but anaesthetic is not required. Over-the-counter pain medications may be used before and after the procedure if needed. The patient is typically able to return to normal activity immediately, and the procedure is usually conducted about a week before the start of treatment. Endometrial scratch is recommended for couples who have experienced multiple failed IVF cycles, despite having used healthy embryos.