My founder’s journey… in sperm

Khaled Kteily
4 min readApr 25, 2024

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.

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

And 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. And I have 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. Since 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 between that time period.

Here were my median results:

Sperm count: 202.95M (Normal range: 39M+)

Total Motile Sperm Count: 117.71M (Normal range: 20M+)

Sperm Concentration: 47.17M/mL (Normal range: 15M/mL+)

Motility: 59.37% (Normal range: 42%+)

Morphology: 4% (Normal range: 4%+)

Focusing on the last 10 valid semen analyses during that time period, you can see a few highlights. Note that your sperm quality today is typically telling you what’s happened over the past 2–3 months.

3 Key learnings:

  1. Fundraising devastated my sperm quality.
    Two of my worst samples were in Dec 2020 and Oct 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.
  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. And in March 2022…. we were fresh off a new raise, this time led by Bain Capital Ventures.
  3. Burnout is real. And shows up in your sperm results. In September 2022, one of my Board members asked me, “are you still enjoying this?” and 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 peeked at my early 2023 scores — about 35% higher.

A few other interesting notes:

  1. My scores have gone down over time — likely a function of age as well as stress levels. There’s likely another correlation I haven’t teased out yet for founders between high interest rates and low sperm quality. Cost of capital goes up, sperm capital goes down.
  2. I’m perfectly healthy — my scores are all within the normal ranges (except morphology, which is stubbornly a little over the normal range). This is extremely reassuring, because it lets me know that I’ll be able to have healthy children someday.
  3. 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 higher likelihood of miscarriages; I was reassured to see my scores were consistently low (16%, 8%, 4% and 4%)
  4. I have consistent results. There is a high degree of consistency between each individual semen parameter and my overall semen analyses 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. Oct ’22, Nov ’22, and Dec ’22 are very similar) which makes sense.

So what does that mean for you? Well, 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 lastly, 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.

Have fun.

Khaled

The details:

Semen analysis 1: Aug 2020

Semen analysis 2: Dec 2020

Semen analysis 3: Jan 2021

Semen analysis 4: April 2021

Semen analysis 5: July 2021

Semen analysis 6: Oct 2021

Semen analysis 7: March 2022

Semen analysis 8: Oct 2022

Semen analysis 9: Nov 2022

Semen analysis 10: Dec 2022

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Khaled Kteily

Khaled is the Founder & CEO of Legacy. Prev. at Harvard, the World Economic Forum, and UN Women.