Laughing, Clowns Can Help Fertility Treatments Succeed

“Though the clown is often deadpan, he is a connoisseur of laughter.” —Mel Gussow

In A Nutshell

According to one study by researchers from Tel Aviv’s Assaf Harofeh Medical Center, laughing can improve the chances of becoming pregnant via IVF. In the study, over 100 women watched a clown while undergoing the procedure, while a separate sample of 100 women having the same treatment didn’t. Of those who were visited by the clown, 36 percent became pregnant, compared to only 20 percent of the other sample.

The Whole Bushel

It sound like a hackneyed phrase, but it’s true: Laughter is the best medicine. After all, scientists have discovered that laughing can act as a natural form of pain relief, protect you against heart attacks, and even help regulate your blood sugar levels. In short, turn that frown upside down or else your body will fall apart.

However, if one piece of research from Israel is to be believed (and there’s no reason that it shouldn’t), laughing can also increase your chances of becoming pregnant via in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment. Conducted at Tel Aviv’s Assaf Harofeh Medical Center, 100 women undergoing IVF treatment were visited by a trick-performing clown, a surefire way to get people who aren’t coulrophobics laughing. In order to provide a reliable way of measuring the effects, a further 100 women underwent the procedure, only without the clown in the room.

The results were pretty impressive. Of the 100 women who were visited by the clown, 36 percent became pregnant. Of the clown-less sample, only 20.2 percent were successfully impregnated. Most importantly, these results still stand when factors such as age, type of infertility, and the number of embryos implanted were taken into account.

The researcher responsible for the study, Dr. Shevach Friedler, explained that this outcome indicates that the success of IVF is somehow affected by stress. As the patients were focusing on the clown and their no-doubt hilarious antics, they were laughing, and so weren’t freaking themselves out over the procedure they were undergoing. As one participant explained, “He walked in and as much as I felt pain everything just faded. He really relieved all the pressure and it was very useful for me.”

So, will squeaky noses and juggling balls become part of the future medical kit for delivering IVF? Maybe it’ll start in Israel. Their prestigious University of Haifa recently started offering a serious degree in “medical clowning” which—alongside nursing, developmental psychology, and physical medicine—offers classes in improvisational comedy, juggling, and the history of clowning. One thing is certain though: That frat house must be the funniest place on campus.

Show Me The Proof

Reuters: Send in the clowns to boost IVF success?
University of Haifa: Medical clowning studies
BBC News: Study reveals laughter really is the best medicine