Does endometrial scratching increase the rate of spontaneous conception in couples with unexplained infertility and a good prognosis (Hunault > 30%)? Study protocol of the SCRaTCH-OFO trial: a randomized controlled trial

B N Bui, H L Torrance, C Janssen, B Cohlen, J P de Bruin, J E den Hartog, P J Q van der Linden, K L Deurloo, J W M Maas, R van Oppenraaij, A Cantineau, C B Lambalk, H Visser, E Brinkhuis, J van Disseldorp, B C Schoot, C Lardenoije, M van Wely, M J C Eijkemans, F J M Broekmans

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BACKGROUND: In the Netherlands, couples with unexplained infertility and a good prognosis to conceive spontaneously (i.e. Hunault > 30%) are advised to perform timed intercourse for at least another 6 months. If couples fail to conceive within this period, they will usually start assisted reproductive technology (ART). However, treatment of unexplained infertility by ART is empirical and can involve significant burdens. Intentional endometrial injury, also called 'endometrial scratching', has been proposed to positively affect the chance of embryo implantation in patients undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF). It might also be beneficial for couples with unexplained infertility as defective endometrial receptivity may play a role in these women. The primary aim of this study is to determine whether endometrial scratching increases live birth rates in women with unexplained infertility.

METHOD: A multicentre randomized controlled trial will be conducted in Dutch academic and non-academic hospitals starting from November 2017. A total of 792 women with unexplained infertility and a good prognosis for spontaneous conception < 12 months (Hunault > 30%) will be included, of whom half will undergo endometrial scratching in the luteal phase of the natural cycle. The women in the control group will not undergo endometrial scratching. According to Dutch guidelines, both groups will subsequently perform timed intercourse for at least 6 months. The primary endpoint is cumulative live birth rate. Secondary endpoints are clinical and ongoing pregnancy rate; miscarriage rate; biochemical pregnancy loss; multiple pregnancy rate; time to pregnancy; progression to intrauterine insemination (IUI) or IVF; pregnancy complications; complications of endometrial scratching; costs and endometrial tissue parameters associated with reproductive success or failure. The follow-up duration is 12 months.

DISCUSSION: Several small studies show a possible beneficial effect of endometrial scratching in women with unexplained infertility trying to conceive naturally or through IUI. However, the quality of this evidence is very low, making it unclear whether these women will truly benefit from this procedure. The SCRaTCH-OFO trial aims to investigate the effect of endometrial scratching on live birth rate in women with unexplained infertility and a good prognosis for spontaneous conception < 12 months.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: NTR6687 , registered August 31st, 2017.

PROTOCOL VERSION: Version 2.6, November 14th, 2018.

Original languageEnglish
Article number511
Pages (from-to)511
JournalBMC pregnancy and childbirth
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 29 Dec 2018


  • Abortion, Spontaneous
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Birth Rate
  • Endometrium/surgery
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infertility, Female/therapy
  • Live Birth
  • Luteal Phase
  • Multicenter Studies as Topic
  • Netherlands
  • Prognosis
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Reproductive Techniques, Assisted/economics
  • Young Adult

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