We Really Are Still Pushing ‘Clowns’ as an Answer to Infertility in 2019

Can't science do any better?
October 31, 2019, 3:50pm
clown, clowns, ivf, pregnant, fertility, infertility, in vitro fertilization, child, children, baby, babies, study, science, wellness,
Photo by Museum of London/Heritage Images/Getty Images

In a New York Times opinion piece published Thursday, novelist Jamie Sumner pens a courageous defense of clowns, aptly titled “A Defense of Clowns.” Those red-nosed nightmares of japes and prankerie have gotten a bad rap lately thanks to recent films like Joker and It, she writes, but clowns aren’t all bad. They’re fun, she claims, and funny, she alleges, and they also help women get pregnant.

Sumner explains:

It wasn’t until I was undergoing fertility treatments that clowns began to crawl back into my good graces. I was in research mode, reading anything and everything I could on the treatment process, because if I couldn’t control my procreation, I might as well study up on it. At one point, I stumbled upon a study regarding the effect of humor in reproduction rates after in vitro fertilization. When clowns came into the clinic, telling jokes and passing out fake flowers and generally distracting women from their frenetic worrying, it helped. More women had successful embryo implantations after a visit from the clowns.

One more time for the people in the back:

More women had successful embryo implantations after a visit from the clowns.

Picture it: You’ve been struggling to have a baby for months. Maybe even years! You’ve spent tens of thousands of dollars on expensive IVF treatments. Your embryo is implanted, and just as you’re beginning the tense waiting period of whether it will take, your doctor says “Great work! Now witness this clown.” After all the time, energy, and resources you’ve sunk into having a baby, you have to face one more humiliating choice in service of your unborn child: keeping your dignity, or enduring a whoopee cushion enthusiast who keeps trying to make you smell his flower.

As wild as this sounds, Sumner is, technically, correct: Children can be born of clown. A study of more than 200 women undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment published in 2011 found that women who were “entertained” by a professional “medical clown” after the embryos were implanted in their wombs were more likely to get pregnant than those who were not. More than 36 percent of the women who were visited by one of these floppy-shoed fertility doulas got pregnant, while only 20 percent of their clownless counterparts were able to say the same. It has something to do with humor, something to do with laughing.

But why clowns? Sumner says she opted for The Office instead of a blessing from Bozo. Why didn't the researchers have that impulse? It couldn't have been, say, Bridesmaids that they chose to study. No. Clowns. Had to be clowns.

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