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Study: clowns help women get pregnant

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In a new study published in Fertility and Sterility, an Israeli team has found that women trying to become pregnant through in-vitro fertilization (IVF) may have greater odds of success if they are entertained by a "medical clown" after the embryo transfer. Of two-hundred-and-nineteen women undergoing IVF, thirty-six percent became pregnant, as compared to twenty percent of women who weren't subjected to the Patch Adams routine. Team leader Shevach Friedler — who has studied movement and mime — said the idea was born of his readings on the impact of laughter as a "natural anti-stress mechanism." "Patients suffering from infertility undergoing IVF are incredibly stressed. So I thought that this intervention could be beneficial for them at the crucial moments after embryo transfer."

To carry out their experiment, the research team divided the women in the study into two groups, with one group undergoing embryo transfer on a day a clown was at the clinic. While recovering from the procedure (and possibly the clowning), each of these women had a fifteen-minute visit from the clown. The researchers found that, compared to the group of women who hadn't been clowned at, the ones who'd gotten the Bozo treatment were more than twice as likely to become pregnant, when variables such as age, type of infertility, and number of embryos transferred were factored in. Israel's University of Haifa now offers a degree program in "medical clowning," and Friedler said that if studies elsewhere confirm his findings, other fertility clinics may begin to adopt the practice.