PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Jo Cummings, 36, is hearing the heartbeat of her first child after struggling to get pregnant for 3-and-a-half-years.

“As you get older, you just feel that time is running out, there’s lots of dark days where you think it’s never gonna happen,” she says.

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Cummings says a simple procedure before her IVF treatment did the trick.

Doctors at Nottingham University used a technique called endometrial scratching.

“We put a little device through the neck of the womb, a bit like having a smear and take a sample – so it is straightforward and painless,” says Dr. Nick Raine-Fenning of Nottingham University.

British and Brazilian scientists now say the optimal time to have the scratch is one month before IVF treatment. They studied 158 women who had undergone unsuccessful fertility procedures — 77 received the scratch.

Scientists say in the women who had the procedure, the pregnancy rate jumped to 49 percent from 29 percent.

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And it nearly doubled the number of live births to 42 percent from 23 percent.

Doctors say they are not sure why the scratch works – but one theory is it wakes up the womb.

“By causing a little bit of damage, the womb has to sort of regenerate and fix itself,” says Dr. Raine-Fenning.

Jo says the scratch was a bit painful – but well worth it – as she waits anxiously for the birth of her baby boy.

Researchers in Britain say they will keep studying the scratch with trials on more women — until their final study is released next year.

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Dr. Maria Simbra