‘Dr. Clown’ Aids IVF Pregnancies

“Medical clowning” boosts in vitro fertilization pregnancies, according to an Israeli hospital study headed by a physician-turned-clown.

Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu, | updated: 09:49

Hospital clowns
Hospital clowns
Israel news photo: Wikimedia Commons

“Medical clowning” boosts the rate of in vitro fertilization pregnancies, according to an Israeli hospital study headed by a physician-turned-clown.

Dr. Shevach Friedler, an infertility doctor at the Assaf HaRofeh Medical Center located in metropolitan Tel Aviv, led a three-year study that treated 219 women undergoing IVF treatment.

After the medical procedure, the 36.4 percent pregnancy rate of women who were entertained by 15 minutes of clowns' jokes and magic tricks was more than 50 percent higher than for the other women, whose rate of pregnancy was only 20 percent.

Dr. Friedler, who also is a graduate of a mime and theatre school, explained that clowning reduces stress of IVF treatments, but he cautioned that his theory requires further investigation.

He believes that laughter is often the best medicine. Clowning is “one of the least hazardous interventions in our field,” Dr. Friedler said in a report in the Fertility and Sterility journal.

Clowning around for hospital patients has grown in popularity the past several years, and the University of Haifa now includes a degree in “medical clowning” in its study program, the first of its kind in Israel.

“The program will teach medical clowns things you don’t learn in acting school, like the relationship between caregiver and patient or the psychological state of a patient in pain,” said Dr. Ati Citron, head of the Department of Theater at the University of Haifa.

“When a clown arrives, he uses skills that open up gates, cross boundaries, and reach places that most people don’t allow themselves to go to in a hospital setting,” according to Herzl Tziony, a member of the group “Dream Doctors” and a student in the new program.

The ”Kedma” volunteer program in Jerusalem hospitals emphasizes clowns’ laughter as a “wonder drug” that is aimed at relaxing patients’ muscles, reducing pain and improving the immune system.




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