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Having IVF treatment? Try clowning around

31 January 2011
Appeared in BioNews 593

Israeli researchers have shown a correlation between successful IVF and 'medical clowning'. In a small-scale study a 'medical clown' was used to entertain women immediately following embryo implantation. A rise in the pregnancy rate was observed in the women subjected to medical clowning compared to controls.

'Patients suffering from infertility undergoing IVF are exceptionally stressed. So I thought that this intervention could be beneficial for them at the crucial moments after embryo transfer', said Dr Shevach Friedler, who led the study at the Assaf Harofeh Medical Centre, Israel.

'Medical clowning' has been practiced in several children's hospitals in Israel, the USA, Australia and Europe. The premise being that laughter can have beneficial physiological effects and can act as a natural anti-stress mechanism.

219 women undergoing IVF treatment took part in the study. Following embryo implantation 110 of the women were entertained for fifteen minutes by a 'medical clown', whilst the remaining women recovered without any 'medical clowning'. The same comedic routine, created by Dr Friedler and a colleague, was performed to each patient. 36 percent of women entertained by a 'medical clown' fell pregnant compared to 20 percent in the control group.

The link between emotional stress and successful IVF has not been confirmed. It is therefore not known whether the beneficial effects of 'medical clowning' observed in this study were due to decreasing stress levels. Further independent studies are needed before 'medical clowning' may be considered a worthwhile practice in other fertility clinics.

This study was published in the journal Fertility and Sterility.

Send in the Clowns to Boost IVF Success?
Fox News |  13 January 2011
The effect of medical clowning on pregnancy rates after in vitro fertilization and embryo transfer (IVF-ET)
Fertility and Sterility |  6 January 2011
9 May 2011 - by Dr Kimberley Bryon-Dodd 
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