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You're Kidding! Medical Clown Increases Pregnancy Rates with IVF

Time,  Jan 31, 2011
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A study of 229 Israeli women undergoing in-vitro fertilization (IVF) to treat infertility found that a 15-minute visit from a trained "medical clown" immediately after the embryos were placed in the womb increased the chance of pregnancy to 36%, compared with 20% for women whose embryo transfer was comedy-free.

After controlling for factors such as the women's age, the nature and duration of their infertility, the number of embryos used and the day on which they were transferred into the uterus, researchers found an even greater effect of therapeutic laughter: the women who were entertained by a clown were 2.67 times more likely to get pregnant than those in the control group.

The quasi-randomized controlled study was published in one of the leading journals on infertility research, Fertility and Sterility, and led by Israeli researcher Shevach Friedler. It is considered only quasi-randomized because the timing of the recruitment of the control group was slightly different from that of the clown group.

In the trial, the professional medical clown — who was dressed as a chef and performed the same light routine each time — visited patients during the half-hour after embryo transfer, when women typically stay lying down and allow the embryos to settle in. The idea was to help reduce women's stress, which laughter has been shown to do, and, hopefully, reap the physiological benefits.

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