A joint American and Spanish study released this week shows that Junk food, especially foods with trans fats, can make healthy young men infertile by damaging their sperm.

Fertility experts from Harvard University and the University of Murcia, in southern Spain, analyzed sperm from hundreds of men aged between 18 and 22 and found those whose diet consisted more of junk food had lower quality sperm than those with a healthier diet.

The men were all assessed to ensure they were in good health and had no other issues that might effect their fertility and the sperm of those with “junk” diets seemed less likely to survive inside the womb so they could fertilize the egg and this was even the case if the men were at a balanced weight and took regular exercise.

Japanese scientists looking for similar traits focused more around exercise, showed that of the 215 men they studied those who took moderate exercise, even just brisk walking, had sperm with better swimming abilities than those who were less active.

In other fertility news, researchers from Oxford University in England, have come up with a new technique to increase the success rate of in vitro fertilization (IVF).

Generally speaking when doctors fertilize eggs under lab conditions with a hope to implant them, in the women that is having trouble conceiving for whatever reason, more than half of the embryos have genetic defects. These defects are known as aneuploidies and in short the cells have too many or too few chromosomes. Unfortunately its hard to detect these problems and obviously fertility doctors want to avoid implanting these embryos.

The new technique from Oxford allows testing for new types of genetic defects and during tests on more than 200 eggs and embryos the research showed it was possible to measure the mitochondria and telomeres with considerable accuracy.

Once the link between the characteristics and the fertility rates are measured, it will become easier to select only the best embryos to implant during IVF.

Written by Rupert Shepherd.