Send in the Clowns? Clowns Shown to Increase IVF Success

BlogHer Original Post

You're on the table, your feet in the stirrups, jittery with anxiety because your doctor just transferred an embryo to your womb and in two weeks, you're going to find out if the dozens of injections and pills and surgery (and the $10,000 bill) were all worth it with the pregnancy test. But before your doctor slips that catheter out of your cervix, you're going to have to watch a clown blow up balloon animals.

Wait.

What?

A study that appeared in Fertility and Sterility, the leading infertility journal, said that women who were shown a 15-minute clown comedy routine complete with magic tricks post-transfer had an increased success rate. Fox News reports,

Overall, 36 percent became pregnant, versus 20 percent of women who'd had a comedy-free recovery after embryo implantation.

CNN is calling clowns "baby-making gold" (funny, I didn't know you could pay for IVF in clowns) and the Forward is pointing out that this is "no joke." (Get it? Joke? Because it's clowns? But it's also a serious study in a respected journal. Get it?)

The point made in every article is that the patients "had a laugh." But what if you don't actually get to the laughing part because YOU ARE COMPLETELY FREAKED OUT BY CLOWNS. I mean, haven't there equally been studies saying that stress can impede success rates? And what could be more stressful than having a clown come into your room when you're already anxious and pull scarves out of his mouth?

Fear of clowns is so prevalent that it has its own word -- coulrophobia. While some people may cite movies such as Poltergeist or It for sparking their clown fears, the phobia is rooted in a survival skill base. Clowns cover their face with make-up or masks, and coulrophobia is about fearing someone becoming unrecognizable or different under heavy paint.

Because isn't that a little freaky -- having someone in front of you that you know will be unable to recognize once they remove their heavy make-up and rubber nose? I mean, isn't that why bank robbers wearing masks are so scary (I mean, beyond the guns) -- because we see something happen and we don't even know who is doing it. It's like having one of your senses removed.

I'm not the only one who wondered why anyone bothered testing this clown theory since people dislike clowns. I mean, no one is funding a study to look at whether being hit with a hammer ups your chances of IVF success. You know why? Because no one wants to get hit with a hammer, so even if it did show success, how many people would allow themselves to be pummeled by metal?

PCOS: Pretty Crappy Ovary Syndrome also mused about clowns, stating,

I'd love to know what kind of a routine a "medical clown" does that almost doubles the success rate. I rather enjoy Monty Python myself, or perhaps Eddie Izzard, but not balloon animals & 30 people piling out of a VW Bug. I'll have to see if I can get my hands on the study for details.

Trying to Conceive generously says that while post-transfer clowns aren't her cup of tea, there must be people out there that would be into IVF entertainment.

But the part that confused me the most about this story in the news is that ... well ... it's old news. I first started hearing about it back in the mid-aughts, and A Little Pregnant even wrote about the study back in 2006 as well.

So, the real question is would you let a clown come into your hospital room or doctor's office after a medical procedure to entertain you if you were told it would up your chances of success? Or would the stress of clowns undo any good they could possibly bring?

Melissa writes Stirrup Queens and Lost and Found. Her novel about blogging is Life from Scratch.

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