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From CEO Khaled Kteily: “My Legacy founder’s journey, in sperm”

How do you track your life? For some founders, it’s years. For others, it’s company milestones. For me, I track it in sperm.

Many people don’t know that sperm is a biomarker of overall health. Produced every ~72 days through spermatogenesis, the results of a semen analysis say a lot about your health.

As the CEO of a sperm testing and freezing company, it’s my job to consistently use the product, to go through the user journey, and to keep improving the experience for our clients. Along the way, I’ve learned some fascinating insights along the way about my own health.

Between 2020 and 2022, I used about 25 Legacy kits, averaging one kit every 1–2 months. Because I deliberately try to “break” the process as an edge case, that means about half my results are valid for tracking. I narrowed it down to 10 analyses during that time period.

These were my results:

Khaled’s medianNormal range
Sperm count202.95 million39 million+
Sperm concentration47.17 million/mL of semen15 million/mL+
Motility59.37%42%+
Morphology4%4%+

How the stress of CEO life shows up in sperm

Sperm quality today is telling you what’s happened over the past 2–3 months. Focusing on 10 analyses between 2020 and 2022, here are 7 key takeaways:

  1. 1. Fundraising devastated my sperm quality. Two of my worst samples were in December 2020 and October 2021. Why? We were knee deep in raising money around that time. It takes its toll on your body — because you’re juggling running a company, building fundraising materials, shepherding investors through your funnel — and that’ll show up in your sperm quality.
  1. 2. Finishing fundraising dramatically improved sperm quality. My best samples were April 2021, July 2021, and March 2022. Why? Well, in Q1 2021, we were fresh off a new raise, led by FirstMark Capital. In March 2022, we were fresh off a new raise, this time led by Bain Capital Ventures.
  1. 3. Burnout is real. And it shows up in your sperm results. In September 2022, one of my board members asked me, “Are you still enjoying this?” The truth is, I wasn’t. We had gone through some difficult layoffs a few months prior, the economy was stalling, I was going through burnout for the first time, and I hadn’t taken a proper vacation in years (interestingly, during our YC summer in 2019). I took 10 days off, traveled to Europe, turned my phone notifications off for the first time in 3 years, and started to feel like myself again by the end of 2022. Interestingly enough, I peaked at my early 2023 scores, which were about 35% higher.
  1. 4. I have low DNA damage. Through Legacy, I also tested for DNA fragmentation (aka DNA damage) in four of my samples. High DNA frag is associated with a higher likelihood of miscarriages. I was reassured to see my scores were consistently low (16%, 8%, 4% and 4%).
  1. 5. My scores have gone down over time. That’s likely a function of getting older — since we know male fertility declines with age — and stress levels. There’s likely another correlation between high interest rates and low sperm quality, which I haven’t teased out yet for founders. Cost of capital goes up, sperm capital goes down.
  1. 6. I’m healthy. My scores are all within the normal ranges. This is extremely reassuring, because it lets me know that I’ll likely be able to have healthy children someday. There’s also been correlations found between abnormal sperm parameters and increased risk of cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and other chronic diseases — so it’s good to know my analysis isn’t throwing up any red flags for my overall health.
  1. 7. I have consistent results. There is a high degree of consistency between each individual semen parameter and my overall semen analysis results. When one factor goes up, typically everything else does, too. There’s also a high degree of consistency between samples that are done around the same time (e.g. October ’22, November ’22, and December ’22 are very similar), which makes sense.

What this means for you

If you’re looking for an easy, relatively fun way of tracking your overall health, consider testing your sperm with Legacy. If you are thinking about freezing your sperm, it’s worth doing it more than once; do it immediately, and then do it again when you’ve had a healthier, lower-stress couple of months. And don’t be afraid to test your sperm more than once — there’s a natural amount of variability based on how you’ve been living your life.

How healthy is your sperm?

Take our 3-minute quiz to find out.

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