The Shmooze

No Joke: Clowns Boost IVF Pregnancy Rates, Study Says

By Nathan Jeffay

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Busybodies are constantly giving couples who have difficulty conceiving all sorts of advice — foods to eat, vitamins to take, acupuncturists to try. It ranges from well-meaning to downright offensive. Now, along comes a suggestion more bizarre than almost any other… with scientific backing.

Dr. Shevach Friedler, an infertility doctor at the Assaf HaRofeh Medical Center near Tel Aviv, has concluded that if couples try IVF, what they really need is jokes and magic tricks. He got a medical clown to entertain women straight after they had embryos implanted in their wombs. Some 36.4% of them conceived, compared with 20.2% of women he surveyed who weren’t entertained post-implantation.

Medical clowning is a big thing in Israel, where doctors increasingly believe it benefits patients. In 2006, Haifa University’s Department of Theatre began a special bachelors’ program for a group of medical clowns who wanted to build on their knowledge. Then in 2009 it launched a degree program that trains and accredits medical clowns. Yes, clowns are literally having a laugh at the taxpayer’s expense.

Friedler’s research was just published in the journal Fertility and Sterility.


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