Gently scratching the lining of the womb nearly a month before IVF treatment could almost double the chances of a successful treatment, with the proceeding costing less than 100 pounds, according to a new study by British researchers.
A review of research on the technique found that twice as many women became pregnant after the procedure than without, boosting pregnancy rates to almost one in two.
AdvertisementDoctors at Guy's and St Thomas' hospital, central London, are carrying out a larger trial to establish the overall efficacy of the technique with the hope of offering it routinely within three to five years.
It is thought that scratching the womb lining stimulates growth factors and repair mechanisms that allow the fertilised egg to embed more easily.
It takes only 15 minutes in clinic, can be carried out by trained nurses and uses simple equipment already in use. The procedure may add less than 100 pounds to the average 4,500-pound cost of a cycle of IVF treatment.
"Endometrial scratching uses simple, inexpensive equipment that most hospitals already have and which clinicians are already trained to use, so complications are rare," the Telegraph quoted Dr Tarek El-Toukhy, who led the review study, as saying.
"It's exciting that the chance of pregnancy could be doubled. The next step is to see if this applies to birth rates. About a third of IVF treatments result in a baby, so improving these odds would make a big difference to people trying to have children through IVF," El-Toukhy added.
In the review, 128 out of 499 women who did not have the womb procedure became pregnant - almost 26 percent. Of the 412 women who had the procedure, 198 fell pregnant, or 48 percent.
There were no serious side effects reported and early signs are that the doubling in rates will be translated into birth rates.
The women in the study had all suffered repeated unexplained implantation failure, meaning other aspects of their fertility seemed normal but the egg did not implant properly in the womb.
The study has been published in Reproductive Biomedicine online.