Laughter helps women undergoing fertility treatment

By Mickie Anderson • Published: May 5th, 2011
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

As anyone who’s ever struggled with infertility can attest, not being able to become pregnant when one desperately wants to have a baby is high on the list of things that cause stress.

A new study by Israeli researchers has found that laughter might help women trying to become pregnant through in vitro fertilization.

The researchers hypothesized that because laughter can reduce stress, if a woman laughed shortly after having an egg implanted in her womb it could help increase the chance for pregnancy.

To test their idea, the researchers had a medical clown visit their fertility clinic over a year’s time. Of two hundred and nineteen women in the study, half had embryos implanted on a day the clown was at the clinic; the other half did not.

As they recovered from the procedure, the clown visited with the women for fifteen minutes and performed a routine that included magic, jokes and tricks. The same clown performed the same routine for each patient, at every visit.

The study showed that the women who had been entertained by the clown had a thirty-six percent chance of becoming pregnant compared with twenty percent of the women who did not enjoy a clown visit.

The researchers said they cannot say for sure why the clown visits seemed to boost the women’s chances of becoming pregnant, but they suggested that the idea merits more study.

“Clown care,” as it’s sometimes called, has been in use in hospitals in North America, Europe and Australia, though most often in children’s hospitals.

One university in Israel has even launched a degree program in medical clowning.

And given that the women who were entertained by a clown had nearly twice the chance at having their in vitro procedure work, it would certainly seem that a visit from a guy in a red nose and oversized shoes couldn’t hurt.