In a study of 219 women undergoing IVF, Israeli researchers found the odds of success were greater among women who were entertained by a professional “medical clown” right after they had the embryos implanted in the womb.
Overall, 36 percent became pregnant, versus 20 percent of women who’d had a comedy-free recovery after embryo implantation.
The findings appear in the journal Fertility and Sterility, and expand on research the Israeli group had presented earlier at a conference.
Dr. Shevach Friedler, who led the work, said he got the idea for the study after reading about the potential physiological effects of laughter as a “natural anti-stress mechanism.”
“Patients suffering from infertility undergoing IVF are exceptionally stressed,” said Friedler, who is based at Assaf Harofeh Medical Center in Zrifin.
“So I thought that this intervention could be beneficial for them at the crucial moments after embryo transfer,” Friedler told Reuters Health in an email.
To test the idea, Friedler’s team had a medical clown visit their fertility clinic periodically over one year. Of the 219 women in the study, half underwent embryo implantation on a day the clown was at the clinic.
During recovery from the procedure, each woman had a 15-minute visit from the clown, who performed a specific routine created by Friedler — who has studied movement and mime — and a colleague.