Watching the antics of a medical clown after undergoing in-vitro fertilization (IVF) can raise the success rate of infertile women achieving pregnancy by 15 percent, according to a study at Assaf Harofeh Medical Center in Tzrifin. Dr. Shevah Friedler, deputy head of the IVF unit at the hospital, has just completed a study on the physiological effects of laughter on women undergoing fertility treatments. His conclusion is that laughter can definitely improve the chances of IVF being successful. One hundred women with fertility problems were invited to a medical clown's performance after fertilized ova were returned to their bodies. A group of 100 women who underwent the same IVF treatment but did not attend a clown performance served as a control in the study. The pregnancy rate was 15% higher in those who laughed. Friedler, who spends his spare time as a pantomime performer and is a graduate of a pantomime school in Paris, is also chairman of the Tzhok Bari (Healthful Laughter) voluntary organization for medical clowning. He believes that improving the psychological condition of women with fertility problems is very important in maximizing their chances for pregnancy. The Assaf Harofeh fertility specialist said that medical clowning should become recognized so the field will be supervised and function at a high level. "Laughter is a serious matter. It is known that it triggers a body mechanism that influences the immune system and the heart and lung systems, and there is a real connection between laughter and medicine and humor and health."