This podcast is all about sperm. That’s because I’m talking with Khaled Kteily about male fertility.
The reason I thought this would make a good topic is it’s an aspect of health I haven’t really touched on before and male fertility isn’t something many people talk about. And what better person to speak about male fertility than the CEO of Legacy, a Harvard-backed company that offers at-home sperm testing, cryostorage (freezing your little swimmers for future use), and educational resources to help men understand and protect their fertility.
In this episode, Khaled and I chat about how fertility is changing (and possible reasons why male fertility is on the decline), why it matters, what you can do to improve your fertility, how family planning is changing, what conception might look like in the future, and more.
And even if you’ve already had kids (like me) or don’t plan on having kids, this podcast is worth a listen because you probably know someone who is trying to have kids or wants to have kids in the future. Not only is your fertility an important biomarker for overall health, but considering how common fertility problems are these days, it could be affecting someone you care about.
So, if you want to learn all about male fertility and whether you should consider testing and freezing your sperm, definitely check out this podcast!
12:46 – How and why are thoughts about fertility changing?
16:17 – How is fertility measured?
17:49 – What factors are causing a decrease in male fertility?
22:45 – Do cell phones and radiation affect our sperm?
26:05 – How can people reduce exposure to harmful chemicals?
27:50 – What can you do to make your body more resilient to negative effects?
30:14 – What role does meat eating play in fertility?
31:38 – Family planning
38:21 – Does using younger eggs and sperm reduce the chances of things going wrong?
41:35 – What’s the ideal age to test and freeze your sperm?
42:26 – Are there risks associated with IVF?
43:53 – Why do you think IVF will be preferred?
52:27 – Where can people find you online?
53:33 – Should you test your sperm even if you’re not going to freeze your sperm?
Mentioned on the Show:
What did you think of this episode? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!
Mike: Hey, I’m Mike Matthews and this is Muscle For Life. Thank you for joining me today. Quickly, if you haven’t done it yet, please do subscribe to the show in whatever app you are listening to me in so you don’t miss any new episodes. And it also helps me because it boosts the ranking of the show in the various charts.
So today’s episode is all about. Which is something that I don’t think very much about, but many men do because of fertility. Male fertility. That’s what we’re gonna be talking about today, and my guest is KA, and he is the CEO of. Legacy, which is a Harvard backed company that offers at home sperm testing, cryo storage freezing your little guys for future use and educational resources to help men understand and protect their.
Fertility, and I thought this would be a good episode because it’s something I haven’t touched on before at all. I don’t think I’ve written about it. I don’t think I’ve spoken about it even tangentially, at least partly because I am done having kids. I am infertile probably for the rest of my life because I am vasectomies, and I did that because after my wife’s second pregnancy, that was a rough pregnancy on her, and we decided that we will stop with two if we would’ve started a bit earlier or not waited four years, I believe we waited in between number one and number two.
Maybe we would’ve went for a third. But given the circumstances, we thought it made sense to, to stop it to. And I didn’t want to have her take hormones. I didn’t want her to take birth control IUDs work obviously, but she has had issues with them in the past. And the female surgery is pretty, pretty traumatic.
I, I would never want her to do that. And the vasectomy was straightforward. It was like 15 minutes, maybe 20 minutes. It was a little bit painful. Mostly just uncomfortable and a little bit of pain afterward. Maybe a six or seven out of 10, day one, and then one point lower every day thereafter. I was in the gym the next day training lower body, so it wasn’t that bad.
And anyway, so male fertility. Is not relevant to me, but of course it is relevant to many other people out there and so that is why I wanted to get an expert on the show to talk about it. Talk about how male fertility is changing and possible reasons why it is declining and why it matters, and what you can do to improve your fertility if you are a dude, and how family planning is changing.
Even what conception might look like in the future. And so that is a little teaser of what we get into in this episode. And even if you’ve already had kids like me or you don’t plan on having kids, I think you will find this podcast worth a listen because you probably know someone who’s trying to have kids or who wants to have kids in the near future.
And if they are struggling or if they are going to struggle, you might be able to. Also, if you like what I’m doing here on the podcast and elsewhere, definitely check out my health and fitness books, including the number one best selling weightlifting books for men and women in the world, Bigger, leaner, stronger, and thinner.
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Hey, Col, it, thanks for taking the time to come and talk to me about sperm Mine, one of my favorite subjects,
Khaled: Mine as well, and as it is for most 13 year old boys as well.
Mike: Yeah. And you’re actually speaking to someone who is vasectomies, so I’m not gonna be able to do anything with what we’re gonna talk about today.
Yeah. So I have two kids, and the second that pregnancy. Pretty rough on my wife. And she delivered both of the babies naturally. And so the delivery itself, this is with Romy, our daughter, was pretty intense. Our son was intense, but Romy was really intense and everything turned out to be fine, but it.
Could have not been fine. And she was also 37, No, 34, 30, No, she’s 38 now. She was thirty four, thirty two, thirty four when Romi was born. And she was right on the cusp of what is now officially a high risk. Pregnancy. Yeah. Yeah. So we said, okay, two is good. If we would’ve started, if we would’ve planned it out maybe a little bit better, we would’ve gone for a third.
But going forward, it made more sense, at least to me, to get what is a very minor surgery versus her being on birth control, which, There, there are reasons why, of course, that lot of hormonal
Khaled: fluctuations Exactly.
Mike: Or i u d that also can cause issues. And then there are surgeries that are
Khaled: be outta the question.
It’s shocking. It’s shocking. Women have to go through just so that, just that we don’t have kids. And as long as I can remember, we’ve been talking about a male contraceptive, but ironically, not a lot of men want to be part of the studies. And so we ask women to go on birth control or put in IUDs, and there’s massive hormonal effects.
Women sometimes spend months figuring out the right birth control to take and all that so that we can have sex naturally. So it’s a wild world we live in.
Mike: Yeah. Yeah. A lot of that probably comes down to, there are social norms, right? But then there are also biological tendencies in terms of personalities, right?
So women tend to be more agreeable. That’s not a controversial statement. That’s just go look in the psychological literature and then think about your average woman versus your average guy. Guys tend to be more stubborn and obnoxious , than women.
Khaled: I think a lot of women would agree with that statement.
Mike: Yeah. Yeah, exactly. And so for for me, I would rather, again, cause I know I’m done having kids because I don’t plan on being married
Khaled: again. And what made you decide to zip it, grip it and snip it,
Mike: So to speak? So I didn’t want to ask Sarah, my wife, to take birth control.
I didn’t want to ask her to. She had an I O D when she was younger and It was okay, but she didn’t like it for a couple of reasons, so I didn’t wanna ask her to do that. Any sort of surgical option for women out of the question? Yeah, because that’s an very intense surgery. And then, okay, so if I’m going to, I guess condoms are an option, but not, Yeah.
Not very fun. And and then I guess you could do the pullout, which is also not very fun. And there’s a risk of risk. Risk involved. Yeah, exactly. So in looking at options for me the, I think I, I’ve talked to guys about this and yeah. When they hear about the procedure, They immediately are like, no F that I would never do that.
But then I’m like, it really wasn’t that bad. Like it sounds
Khaled: worse than, it’s a pretty minor procedure. You can even, you have good odds of being able to reverse a vasectomy in the future if anything ever were to happen. Correct. I think you probably limp for a couple days just while you’re in recovery, but dude, I was in the gym the next day.
Wow. Yeah, and I think a lot of men also assume that you stop ejaculating semen afterwards. They think that you’re gonna stop producing any volume. And the reality is it has almost a negligible effect on your ejaculation. And, but I think guys get, get in their not something I really pay attention to,
Mike: I don’t, I’m not measuring in grams,
Khaled: I don’t know what I can do if it’s.
We, we measure by the middle leader, which is why it’s top of mind for me. But what was the reaction from your friends when you told ’em that you were gettings Me?
Mike: So let’s see. So one one friend of mine, he was giving me shit that I was like, cing myself basically. And as a joke. As a joke, Yeah. Yeah. So that, that’s funny. But mostly, The reaction, They were surprised because they assumed that it’s a more intense procedure than it is. Like they didn’t know, They had never really looked into it because they had never thought of it even as an option for themselves.
And so they were surprised to learn that I was awake for it. I didn’t have to get put under. Yeah. And that there was a little bit of pain, but then I just asked for more pain juice, and. That was that I didn’t feel much of anything. Yeah. There, there were a couple moments where I was like, Eh, I think you need to do a little bit more down there.
Yeah. And it wasn’t long that they didn’t know that it’s just like a 15 minute, maybe it was 20 minutes. Yeah. And yeah so they were just surprised that And that I was back in the gym the next day and I had a,
Khaled: I would say also you’re not working out with your penis, right?
, Yeah. Yeah.
Mike: What if you’re bald? You’re like trying to, It was a little bit, it didn’t feel good. I’ll say, Yeah. Yeah. I think I, I probably experienced maybe, let’s call it a six out of 10 in terms of pain Discomfort the day. Yeah, the next day. Yeah. And then each following day, I would say I went down by one point, and then within a week I couldn’t feel anything.
And then once or twice I felt a little bit of discomfort. I read up on, It’s like it’s common several months later you can feel a little bit. But that’s been it. So yeah. Yeah I would absolutely do it again. Because again, it really wasn’t a traumatic experience at all. It was mildly uncomfortable, all things considered, and it means that my wife doesn’t have to do anything that.
Would just have continual forever effects, as long as she keeps on taking the drugs or
Khaled: whatever. Very cool. Hey we jump right to the vasectomy stuff, but if there’s any stuff you want to intro or we can tee up this conversation before getting right to the juicy stuff.
Mike: Yeah. So before you get vasectomies, you may want to have kids and so that’s what you’re here to talk about is male fertility, something. I haven’t touched on at all, which is why this interview appealed to me. Because I have written and spoken a little bit about female fertility and and weight loss in the context of fertility.
Some dietary stuff, particularly with highly refined carbs like some P C O S related stuff. But I haven’t touched on male fertility. And you had mentioned before we started recording that it’s a hot topic right now and I’ve been seeing that. So here we are and I’m interested to learn again, even though my, my seating days are over for the foreseeable future.
But that’s not gonna be the case for people listening. Expect to a lot of, with a lot of people, professional people in particular starting families later or thinking that they’re gonna start a family later without, Yeah. Educating themselves as to the complications that can come with that, that it isn’t necessarily as straightforward as Well.
I’ll just put it off until I’m 40 and it’ll be totally fine,
Khaled: Yeah. It’s, I’ll speak for a minute just about some of the demographic trends and the way that people think about fertility and why that’s changed so much recently. You touched on something which is actually male fertility is having its moment in the sun, which is a weird thing to say.
That actually, year there’s been increasing evidence about how chemicals affect our fertility. There’s these forever chemicals, forever plastics that stay in the body may even be transmitted to newborns. We know that chemical exposure has a negative effect on things that could include reductions in the size of the penis.
Effect on our ability to conceive. And we know that male fertility has declined by about 50 to 60% over the past 40 years. So we know that there is something that is happening and there’s been a new set of data coming out this year focused mostly on chemical exposure that has led to, shows, with Joe Rogan talking about it, The Wall Street Journal just did a feature on us, CNN’s talking about it, Male factor inferity.
Every mainstream media publication is talking about male fertility in a way that they weren’t a year or two years ago. And it. Particularly fascinating for me, having been an entrepreneur in the male fertility space since 28, early 2018. And I’ve watched the shift, and I’ve always described it as a shift of you’re gonna go for men having no idea that anything’s wrong, to having some inkling that maybe possibly something’s wrong.
To knowing that there is an issue and then ultimately to choosing to act on it. And I’ve watched the world go from phases one to three, where now the average man has seen something, read something, heard something where they know that there’s an issue with male fertility and we are seeing a spike in the number of men who are choosing to act about it.
And. And when you link it back to demographic trends, you take a look at the us, the median age in the US has gone up by about a decade, over the past 40 years. So what that means is the average person is now, the median is now more like 30 the median age of the average person in the United States.
And what that translates to is people are older. People are meeting later people are getting into relationships later, settling down later, choosing to have kids later. And so now it’s no longer. Take a header, a sexual couple where it might have been a man who’s 28 and a woman who’s 24. You’re now talking about a man who’s 34 and a woman who’s 31.
And actually we know that there are more women in the 31 to 35 age range having their first child relative to women in the 26 to 30 age range, which actually says a. And so when you take that into account, we know the stats on male fertility are changing so quickly. We know they’re going down.
And what that translates to is more and more couples are facing infertility. So now about one in six or one in seven couples face infertility. We now know that when heterosexual couples face infertility, it’s about as. Equally likely to be from male factor infertility as it is from female in factor infertility.
This is new, right? We always thought about it as a women’s issue. And then we also know that the older the men is, the more likely there is to be a miscarriage. The longer it’s gonna take to conceive, the more likely you’re gonna have a child born with a congenital condition like autism. So we’ve learned all of this and you watch, like assisted reproduction rates are going up by 10% year on year.
That’s massive. You look at countries like Denmark where IVF is subsidized or paid for. Something like one in 10 kids in Denmark right now is born through IVF or some form of reproduction. This is the world in which we, as the US are moving towards as well. And so it’s this fascinating new world where couples are more likely to face infertility.
We know that men are more and more of the equation than we ever even thought. There’s easy, accessible options for men to test or to freeze their sperm with companies like us with legacy. And we also know that it’s shifting the way that we are going to be having babies in the future. And that, that’s what’s so fascinating to me to watch it happening and watch it unfold.
Mike: now when you say fertility is down in the last, I think you said 50 to 60% in the last 40 years, how is that measured?
Khaled: Yeah. So there there’s five me five typical metrics you would use for fertility. So volume count concentration, which is broadly how much you’re producing. And there’s motility, which is how well your sperm is swimming, and there’s morphology, which is how normal or abnormal your sperm is.
So as a fun fact, actually the vast majority of your sperm is abnormal. So misshape and head misshape entailed. Double-headed, no headed. Some of the stuff we see is really interesting. And so sperm counts,
Mike: that is like a virus replicating. Most of the replica conditions are crap. And then you get ones that make it
Khaled: all it, Hey, all it takes is one.
That’s what we say in the industry. And so sperm counts and concentrations have both gone down in the 50 to 60% range. And what’s interesting is the gold standard the World Health Organization’s Human Analysis Manual, the W H O Guide is now in its sixth edition. And as we’ve watched the additions come out, and this happens approximately every decade the reference ranges, which is the reference for what’s normal or not, have gone down significantly over time to be more reflective of the average male.
And so what that broadly translates into is that the average male is just less fertile than they were a few decades.
Mike: And that can be misleading if you don’t understand that context, because if you only were to look at it in relative terms, according to whatever the average is, you may not catch that.
Wait the average that the bar has been lowering here, year, decade after decade. Yeah. And what are some of the one, So what are some of the factors that have been isolated that have contributed to this
Khaled: issue? Ooh, this is one of my favorite topics. We’re gonna, we’re gonna get into mild conspiracy land, which I will
Mike: preface, I was gonna ask you these, cuz I, I hear let’s just say that.
Yeah. I am. , reluctantly, begrudgingly, conspiratorially minded, simply because conspiracy is the dominant theme of history. Rich and powerful people have been conspiring since the beginning of time to get richer and more powerful and to do away with their opponents and to control the rl. And that’s just been the game since the beginning.
Correct. And you can find way too much. That such things still happen today. Unfortunately we haven’t transcended the darker parts of our human nature yet, and we probably never will. And so it’s not that I will blindly swallow any conspiracy theory. I can’t take people seriously who actually use that term on ironically.
Yeah. But when I hear stuff like, Huh yeah, so fertility is down that much, and I would like to hear some of the reasons why, and. . Why is that? Was it, were these things that just happened to happen or? Yeah. And especially with demographic shifts that are happening in the country and how it’s celebrated that, for example, that I saw, was it one of the, one of the late night script, the teleprompter readers?
Might have been Kimmel saying, Yeah, for the first time ever we in we did our census and the percentage of whites in the country went down and everyone collapsed. Who are these people, right? Yeah. But anyway, go ahead. What are some of the factors that
Khaled: are contributing to, I wanna make a couple of quick points on what you just said.
The first is, victory is written by the winners. And so we never see what’s really happening beneath the surface, cuz the only history that we’ve been told up until quite recently with the rise of social media has been the history that is written by the victors. The second thought that I’ve always had is someone once said, just at a pure statistical, probabilistic level, The odds that there is actually a secret cabal running the world are so small and so low because just by virtue the number of people that would have to be in the cabal, the odds that we have never heard of this cabal is so low.
Whereas I think what is more realistic is you have a lot of organizations that we have heard of that are helping to shape policies around the world and that’s a whole other conversation we can say. Yeah. Yeah. I would say
Mike: that could be a fun podcast. I would disagree with the, with that more deductive line of reasoning, and I would say why don’t we start the other way around?
Why don’t we start with induction and start looking into a lot of verified
Khaled: instances, the scull and bone societies of the world
Mike: and let’s and all of the. The various machinations that we can go read about. A lot of the stuff you could just read about on Wikipedia and then start forming theories based on the evidence that we have.
But but yeah. So what are some of that, What are
Khaled: some of the factors that, So to answer your, So to answer your question more concretely, I’ll start with the stuff that is. Fairly well validated. In particular, it is exposure to chemicals that are endocrine disrupting like phalates, which you’ll find in a lot of plastics.
There’s a very interesting study. The n of the study is really, is relatively small, but the concept is interesting. If you take a look at dogs that live in human households and you compare them to dogs that don’t live in human households, what they found is the. The sperm of dogs that live outside of our households, their sperm quality has remained fairly consistent.
The sperm quality of dogs that have been living with us in our homes has gone down by a similar percentage, which suggests that actually it is something that is in the food that we eat and the water we drink and the chemicals we’re exposed to. And it makes sense, right? You look around your apartment, you’ve got paint around you, right?
That’s chemicals. You think about the foods that you eat. The pesticides that are required to grow the food that you eat and so on and so forth. And so these kinds, probably the soaps that you use. Oh, definitely. And by the way, shins or any stuff to put on your body, I used to make fun of people who are super organic.
I would be like, Oh, this is super hippie dippy, whatever. Yeah. Yeah. Cute, crunchy people. And now I actually I take back everything I’ve ever said. I have gone entirely the other way. Fragrance free, chemical free, pesticide free, all this stuff whenever possible, because the evidence is just becoming increasingly clear that it is coming from chemicals.
So this is the most scientifically validated, and actually I think that the US is, Way behind when it comes to regulating the amount of chemicals that go into the foods and products that we are exposed to. I think Europe does a much better job here. And I think that there will be a campaign down the line, hopefully run by us, which we’re gonna call sos, Save Our Sperm.
That is gonna be about how we minimize exposure to chemicals. And so this is the most robust. Second, which I just have always believed, and the evidence for this has been mixed. I’ll be clear on this. I think that these, I think the odds that these tiny little devices that are emitting to the world on a nonstop basis the odds that these which are in our pockets and by our bedsides and on our desks are not affecting us in any way.
Personally think the odds of that are low. I am personally convinced that there’s going to be studies showing that phones and cell phones are the smoking of our generation, where we didn’t know for decades that smoking was so bad for us. In part because the studies assessing the effect of smoking on our health were funded by.
Big cigarette companies.
Mike: You remember there was a time when doctors would recommend Yeah. Oh, just move this brand over,
Khaled: this brand. It’s totally fine. Yeah Exactly. So
Mike: The science said it was totally fine. Oh, wow.
Khaled: And so that, that’s the thing. Our definition of science changes so much and so off.
How many studies have you seen? Seen showing that caffeine is good for you? Oh, but it’s bad for you. Wine is good for you. Oh, but it’s bad for chocolate. The food pyramid, whatever. Let’s talk about the food pyramid. The food pyramid, which actually is one of the conspirators that. Big milk and big breakfast trying to take us down and get us to eat their foods.
And so I actually think that, you know what we say, Hey, this is scientifically valid. Yes. Based on the best knowledge that we have today. And so I personally am convinced that exposure radiation is gonna be part of it. But
Mike: Isn’t there actually some preliminary research? I feel like I’ve seen that.
Again, this isn’t, An area I know much about. There’s a great study
Khaled: point and counterpoint in the Guardian where there was a study suggesting there was an impact and then someone basically tried to debunk that study. And so it’s gone back and forth a couple of times. But my sense is that if you’re a major cell phone manufacturer or if you’re anyone who relies on people having cell phones, then you’re not gonna be super thrilled about a study coming out showing that these are actually bad for us.
It’s also difficult to show the effect over a long enough period of time, right? Cell phones have only become super prevalent over the last decade. When I was growing up, I was lucky to get a cell phone in ninth grade, right? This would’ve been what, 2003? And you know that, we didn’t have cell phones.
Everywhere we went, like the way we do today.
Mike: I think my first phone was, I think it was the razor flip phone. Remember that thing? Oh, that
Khaled: was the Motorola. I had a note, I think it was a 66, 10, the one that I had, but I still have it. That thing is freaking indestructible. I still have it somewhere still alive.
It’s a weapon. . It’s a brick.
Mike: Yeah, exactly. Okay. And this is actually for people listening. I did an interview with, oh, his name was Jay. I don’t remember his last name. He had a book, if I remember correctly, called estrogen es. It was, ugh, Estro Generation maybe. And for anybody listening who wants to hear more about these chemicals and if I remember correctly this was a couple of years ago, so it’s a little bit hazy, but Jay also shared some simple practical tips for just reducing exposure.
And I think he explained it well in that you have to look. The exposure on the whole, You have to look at the research on these chemicals on the whole, because if you were just to pick one type of exposure, you’d be like, Oh, it’s not a big deal. Another individual little slice, not a big deal. But the cumulative effects yes, exactly can be significant.
And if you want to quickly share any simple. Tips along the lines of how to reduce exposure to these chemicals. Go ahead. Yeah. Or if not, we can also move on and people can go listen to that other.
Khaled: I’ll share just a couple quick thoughts on this. The first is, there’s a great book by Dr.
Shanna Swan, who is one of the most prolific authors in the space. It’s called Countdown. She talks about this concept of sperm. Again, I’ve seen that. I didn’t
Mike: read it, but I saw that. Yeah.
Khaled: Yeah. But she talks a fair amount about exposure to chemicals and she says it so on the one hand, It’s difficult to reduce your exposure in part because it’s things like your shower curtains and ATM receipts and things that you just can’t avoid being around.
But I think what you can do more concretely is just make sure that you are shopping if you can afford it. And this is one of the, one of the challenges that’s more expensive, but if you can afford to shop at a Whole Foods, Or the kind of companies where they are more organic, fragrance free, chemical free, and so on.
Simple things like buying a laundry detergent that is as chemical free as possible. are just, these are the clothes that are on your body all day. That feels like a very simple way. Washing the bedsheets that you sleep on. These feel like no brainers to do. And same when it comes to your food, right?
Try to buy them pesticide free, herbicide free. I think these all add up in, in meaningful ways. Washer
Mike: produce before you eat it as well. Which you think Yeah. Oh, always. That’s, You’d think you wouldn’t have to say it, but that, Especially with some of my male friends, I don’t know if they’ve ever washed a
Khaled: of food.
Ever. Oh, that’s disgusting. Oh, that’s terrible. That’s terrible. They’re gonna get more than just chemical exposure. They’re gonna get. Herpes. I don’t know. .
Mike: Yeah. Aids who knows? But but yeah. Yeah, that, that makes sense. And then curious, are there also things you can do so you can try to remove your exposure, but you can’t eliminate it altogether?
And that’s okay. Are there also things that you can do to make your body more resilient or more resistant to the negative effects? For example and this isn’t necessarily even a leading question. I’m assuming the answer is yes, but I haven’t looked into it, which is why I wanted to talk to you.
Take exercise, take strength training, for example, or exercise at all. Do you know if that can help, again, help our body? Have you seen any evidence to that or any other just positive lifestyle changes that you can make? Yeah, again, to just make your body more robust.
Khaled: That is an more excellent question.
I’m gonna try to bring it back to sperm because that’s the area that I know best. Cause I, I can’t speak specifically to working out and chemical exposures, but we do know that your sperm quality is a great biomarker of your overall health. So actually getting a semen analysis done broadly gets, tells you how healthy or unhealthy you are and being sub.
Infertile is correlated with everything from risk of prostate cancer to how likely you are to die young. So literally, it can predict your longevity. And one of the things that we know about sperm quality is that taking changes, like having a more Mediterranean diet, making sure that you are exercising, not smoking being more thoughtful about about your sleeping patterns.
- All of these simple alcohol intake probably give you alcohol. Alcohol, of course, interestingly, marijuana has had mixed studies, some suggesting it’s negative, some suggesting it might actually be positive for sperm counts. I’ll leave that one out. But all of those have been shown to improve sperm quality, which you can deduce from that, you know that is likely to be good for your overall health and likely to protect you against.
Downsides, if any. Everything like exposure to chemicals. The last one is not something that I’m particularly qualified to speak on, but I think it’s a reasonable logical leap to
Mike: take. Yeah. And exercise is one of those things that it seems to enhance just about
Khaled: everything. It’s what our bodies were designed to do.
We weren’t designed to be sitting at a desk for eight hours. We weren’t designed to be eating every day . Yeah, exactly. We weren’t designed to be zooming. Exactly. We were designed to be out and about and, eating meat maybe once or twice a week if we were lucky. And to be, hunting and resting and sleeping and fornicating.
Best possible life, .
Mike: That is the golden life. And so you mentioned meat eating. What do you have to say about that in, in the context of fertility?
Khaled: We do know that if you’re eating red meat and other meats too often, that can be detrimental to your sperm quality. So that that’s And out of
Mike: curiosity, has that been more highly processed red meats or ooh, take Good question.
Cause there’s a difference between, A steak that you buy maybe at Whole Foods or a hamburger that you make and, some cheap bacon or cheap sausage that you microwave or something, .
Khaled: Yeah. If you buy, I think if you buy it at the gas station, Yeah. Don’t eat it. . Yeah. That’s a good rule of don’t eat gas station sushi, gas station sausages.
That’s probably a good rule of thumb. I don’t have any concrete studies that I could point to, but I think it’s a recent assumption to make that the more processed it is, the more chemicals they are gonna be in it. In general, the further away you’re getting from natural foods right, the worse it’s going to be for you cuz it’s going through chemical processes.
Mike: Yep. Yep. That makes. If you like what I’m doing here on the podcast and elsewhere, definitely check out my health and fitness books, including the number one best selling weightlifting books for men and women in the world, Bigger, leaner, stronger, and thinner. Leaner, stronger, as well as the leading flexible dieting cookbook, the Shredded Chef.
And what are your thoughts on I don’t know if this is like the technical term, but family planning, I suppose in terms of how, Cuz you mentioned now that people are starting families later. Yeah. And I think we can all guess. As to some of the reasons for that. Yeah. Just, focus on a career, for example, I’m sure is a major one.
Yeah. But I’m just curious as to your thoughts about that trend and Yeah. Cause it’s something that, again, I had mentioned earlier, so let’s see, my son is he just turned nine and I’m so I was twenty eight, twenty nine when he was born. and and then we waited four years and then had Romy, and if I could do it over I would’ve, I would’ve pushed Probably have Romy a little bit sooner. Yeah, a little sooner. Yeah. Yeah, exactly. But I didn’t look into it very much because I was very focused on my work. Yeah. And then it occurred to me at some point, Wait a minute, it’s been four years. If we’re gonna have another kid, we should probably do it now, kind of thing.
It’s time. Yeah. Yeah. But, and if I would’ve been more thoughtful about it, I probably, cuz my wife and I, we got married when I was 23, 24. She’s one year older. Wow. Than I am. Wow. If I would’ve been more thoughtful. I may not have jumped into it right away because both of us were pretty busy.
And I do think that time was spent well and has set us up well and we can provide well and, if pretty good setup. But I think if it would’ve been more thoughtful, probably would’ve maybe pushed to start two years sooner.
Khaled: Yeah I totally get that. And I think there’s two things that couples underestimate when it comes to family planning.
So the first is couples underestimate how long it takes to have kids. And we have this narrative, that we’re all taught in high school, right? Be very careful having unprotected sex or, if a condom breaks because one mistake and boom Baby pops out, one drop and this is, yeah, ba basic, like one drop and it’s over.
And the rest of your life, as you know it is over. And this mentality that we have going into our teens and early twenties is actually not true at all. By the time you get to your late twenties or to your thirties. And actually what we found is about half of couples, it’ll take them closer to six months to be able to conceive, and this is with them actively.
And this is what I’m trying to time the fertile window and figure out when the female partner is ovulating and so on and so forth, which is easier. Now
Mike: you don’t have to say, Hey, come home. They probably already are home. And the zoom call, I
Khaled: got something. Yeah. If you mysteriously disappear, during this call
Then you’re gonna question everything I’ve told you because,
Khaled: What’s a VASc deposit? Yeah, that’s true. That’s true. Although as a fun side note, Getting mastectomy doesn’t mean that there’s a hundred percent you’re not gonna have kids. It just means the odds are extremely low. Yeah. Anyway,
Mike: yeah, I did the follow up tests and actually it took if I remember correctly, I think it took two weeks until I was like, Clean, given the
Khaled: Green light.
We actually have a lot of folks who will test for several months after vasectomy also after vasectomy reversal to make sure things are going back to normal. Anyhow so couples underestimate how long it takes to have a child. And there’s, and there’s about one in six, one in seven couples that are not able to conceive within 12 months, and that is 12 months of actively trying, 12 months of planning your life around us, right?
Think about where we all were a year ago, probably washing our vegetable. Think and trying not to get covid right. But a year is a very long time and I remember something that one of our clients said to us, she said, Every time I get my period, it is a visual representation each month off my failure to do what I was put on this planet to do.
That’s heavy. Yeah, that’s heavy.
Mike: And that’s one fewer egg and I only get so.
Khaled: Yeah. Yes. And so this is occurring to one in six or one in seven couples. And because fertility is such a stigmatized topic, people don’t really talk about it except in hush tones. It’s very, something that you might talk one on one, but it’s not something you’re gonna be tweeting about.
And so first is that people just underestimated as a whole, because we have this mindset of from our teens, like one, one mistake and it’s all over. So this is the first. The second is when we’re thinking about family planning. To your point, it probably, probably might have been nice to have Romi, a year or two years earlier.
What a lot of couples underestimate is the concept of secondary infertility, which means that you’ve had your first child, you were successful there, but now maybe you’re a few years older and now it’s that much more difficult to have a second child. And so you have couples that have a kid the first time normally, but then have trouble having their second.
And so this is one of those things to consider, which is actually. Let’s say you’re in a world where your your partner’s, 32, you’re 32, you’re having your first kid, great, but then by the time you’re having your second, you might both be 35, and by the time you’re both 35, both of your fertility has gone down.
Mike: being, I think it’s reasonable. That’s being aggressive. Yeah. For the woman because of the recovery and
Khaled: Have your kid recovered
Mike: and then she’s not
Khaled: sleeping, doing all, all over again. Start
Mike: To feel a little bit better, but still feel pretty terrible because of sleep and all the change, and then it’s time to go again.
Khaled: Yeah. So that, that’s the second point I have and the third point I have, which I find more interesting from a futuristic perspective, which is what we do as a company, as legacy, is we make it. Easy for men to freeze or test their sperm, right? So you order a kit on the website, you get it the next day, you produce a sperm sample from home through masturbation.
You push a button on our app, we pick it up, we test it, we freeze it. Like it’s actually that simple. And so we’ve made it affordable. It costs less than $200. It’s $195 for our base package, right? And so in a world where this becomes more and more a no brainer for men to do freeze your sperm where you’re young and healthy.
This actually creates a very interesting dynamic whereby women are also freezing their eggs more and more and even though it’s more expensive for women, it’s more convoluted. Egg freezing is not a simple or trivial process. It is, 10 to 14 days of hormone injections. It is a surgical extraction of your eggs under anesthesia.
It’s a serious thing, but more and more women are opting to go down that path. What’s interesting to me is in a world where more and more men are freezing their sperm when they’re young and. More and more women are fusing their eggs when they’re young and healthy. What that means is actually you could meet the perfect person when you’re 34, and then choose to take that frozen sperm and the frozen eggs, make an embryo and implant that embryo into the female partner.
And so you can choose to have kids later in life while still using the healthier younger sperm nx.
Mike: And would that reduce the chances of things going wrong, even though now?
Khaled: The mother. So there’s it’s really bad actually, when women are 35 or older. It’s called a geriatric pregnancy.
Really always . Yeah. I think they’re trying to move away from that term. But basically what it means is it’s a higher risk pregnancy, both to the mother and to the child. But we work with a lot of couples use surrogates. So they can take a healthy embryo that has been made from frozen eggs and frozen sperm, implant that embryo, and another person who is younger, who can then have the healthy child on their behalf.
It’s kinda, it’s wild that we live in a world where this is possible.
Mike: Yeah. If if everything doesn’t just implode, catastrophically in our lifetime, which is entirely possible we may be living in the brave new world one day where kids are just,
Khaled: we are we are. You joke, but actually we are probably 10 to 20 years away from Exogenesis, which is the artificial womb being created.
And so there is a world not that far away where you can take that frozen sperm that’s young and healthy. Take that frozen egg. Young and healthy and implant them into an artificial womb, and then boom, nine months later, you have a kid. And for many of the women that I’ve talked about this concept now, some of them would want and would prefer to have the pregnancy naturally, and others say no I wanna be like the dad, right?
The dad is just walking around for nine months while his female partner is pregnant and dealing with the pregnancy. And I’ve had I’ve talked to a lot of women who’ve said, No, I would much prefer to be like the dad. Dads feel just as close to their children. They’re just as much of a parent as the mother is.
And so if I can avoid nine months of my whole life, being affected, then I would love to do that. And so it’s not that wild that in a few decades time we will really be in the world of, hyper assist reproduction, not just theary production.
Mike: That is it’s interesting to think about.
I, I will be genuinely surprised if it is working well in the. 10 years May, maybe 20. I could see. Yeah. Underground rogue Chinese scientists doing, they’re starting doing what? Yeah. Doing what they will. But I would be a little bit surprised if we have it basically taped where
Yeah. No. Whereas the doctor
Mike: would say, they’re really, the chances of things going wrong here are really the same. Yeah. Or I’m saying where the doctor would be like, No, it’s really the same whether you grow them in this that’s cow utter over here. Or you grow ’em in your belly. Same thing maybe
Khaled: in our lifetime.
I think in our lifetime it took decades for IVF to become normalized the way that it is, and IVF continues get better and better. But then I think about egg freezing, which was considered experimental by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, asrm until I think it was 2011, and now has become an extremely normal thing to do.
And so these timelines are accelerating in part because. There is so much demand. People want families and what I say that what we do at Legacy is we are ultimately giving people the freedom to choose what kind of family they want, how they want it, and when they want it. And really is this concept of being empowered to decide, how and when you wanna have your family.
And that’s a very novel concept. What’s the ideal
Mike: age for a guy to go to a service like yours and save?
Khaled: Honestly the, practically the younger, the better. Somewhere around the age of 20 is where you’re gonna have your youngest bes best, healthiest sperm. And there’s a study that showed that because men continuously produce sperm on an ongoing basis while a woman are born with all the eggs they’re ever gonna have, Men produce genetic mutations in their sperms DNA at rate four times faster than women.
And so you accumulate a mutation about every eight months. The majority of which are benign, don’t have a negative impact, but over time you’ll accumulate enough damage that this is what can lead to genetic conditions for your kids.
Mike: Aging. That’s just the process of aging. That’s any cell is the, it replicates or replicates and eventually it just gets shitier and shittier.
Mike: Is that and as far as IVF goes, what are, I’m assuming there are some risks associated with it,
Khaled: With IVF or with increasing, Sorry, I missed that. Yes. Sorry. With
Mike: IVF going that route. Yeah, because the reason I asked that is, and this is something I actually don’t know, but I have heard.
Maybe more from women than men, but I’ve heard people assume, heard people say, Oh yeah, we’re just gonna do the IVF route. And it’s simple, it’s straightforward. There are no risks. And I’ve asked them, Are you sure? Have you looked into it? Oh yeah, that’s what I read on an article online or something.
I’m like, okay. I don. I
Khaled: think from what I’ve seen, the reproductive outcomes from IVF are extremely similar to natural conception. I think there may be, and I don’t quote me on this, but I think that there may be slight negative impacts. That said, those would be counteracted if you are using, for example, Younger, healthier, frozen sperm, or for example, you’re doing pre-implantation genetic screening or diagnosis on the embryos.
So if you actually add those into the mix, then you’re likely to have more positive outcomes when it comes to using ivf because it gives you more control over which embryos are implanted. And so I think it, it probably balanced out and over time as we get better and better at ivf. It’s actually going to become the preferred option for people who can afford it, people who want to go through that
And why? Why do you think that’s gonna become preferred
Khaled: as we get better at ivf as we get better at screening out unhealthy embryos? If you tell an expecting couple that, Hey, we can help make sure that you’re gonna have a kid who’s healthy. Over time, and this is where you’re gonna have, there have been rogue Chinese scientists working on this, but over time there’s this idea of we are not only gonna be able to screen out the negative traits, which you think everyone university agrees is a good thing.
But then you get into the much slippery slope of we are going to start screening for positive traits. And it’s not as trivial as thinking something. Positive traits. Or inserting positive traits. Yeah. Like hyper crispr. Yeah. But when you look at something like intelligence, which is very polygenic, I think there’s about 70 different genes that are associated with intelligence.
It’s not a trivial thing, but some things that are more trivial are how do you determine the eye color off your child or their hair color? Or some things that are simpler simpler to implement those changes. And over time, you ask parents, Hey, We have two embryos. One, your male, your son is gonna be taller.
The other, your son’s gonna be shorter. And we know that men’s height is correlated with their income. It’s correlated with all kinds of positive things. And as someone who used to be very short when he was a kid and is now is a comfortable five 11, I can tell you that it sucks to be a short dude.
And you tell parents that and they’re gonna say, Of course I wanna have the taller kid. And then you get into these very. Very ethical dilemmas at what point do you draw the line, right? I think we can all agree it’s good to make sure that you’re not having kids who are born with, genetic defects that are gonna stay with ’em for the rest of their lives.
But is it really okay to choose embryos that are smarter or taller or blue-eyed or what have you,
Mike: and why would it not be okay? Yeah. Or why might it not be? Okay? Because you think about some of the social implications, especially if it’s expensive. , and I’m no communist, but I’m a realist.
Yeah. And we have, I wouldn’t say, It’s outright class warfare, but we’re probably, it kind.
Khaled: The trajectory is in that, it is this is Aldos Huxley’s Brave New World where you basically have the world is segmented based on where you’re from and what it’s gonna happen is it’s just gonna, We talk about in equality enough as.
Society right now. Imagine a world where the rich and the wealthy developed countries are Oh,
Mike: beautiful. And they’re
Khaled: beautiful, tall disease or whatever. . Yeah, exactly. And so it just, it’s gonna reinforce and perpetuate the existing inequality. It’s just gonna make it worse. And so that’s where things get, pretty screwy.
Mike: And I guess somebody like, like maybe Thomas Mathis would say or maybe Francis Gaton would say that’s why we need to reduce population to maybe 500 million. We literally need the brave new world.
Khaled: This is actually such an, this is such an interesting question.
wanna come back to something you were saying about the late night talk show hosts. And one of the things that is talked about at the US government as a matter of national security, is the fact that if you look at the average birth rates in the US it is below the replacement rate for a population which is 2.1 babies per woman.
Because some babies will, will die at a young age and so on. So you need about 2.1 babies. For women, for a population to stay constant, the US is on a negative decline. And the re, if I remember correctly, something like 1.8 or 1.9 babies for women. But actually, if you look at white Americans, it’s more like 1.5 or 1.6.
And if you look at Latinx Americans, then you’re talking more, I think it’s more like 2.5 plus. And so what’s happening is the demographics of the US are changing very quickly, which for a lot of people is a good thing or a neutral thing. But for a lot of white Americans, they feel like it is a threat to the identity of the United States.
And you look at other countries the birth rate in Korea is something like 1.3 or 1.4 babies per woman in Germany is something like 1.8. You, Japan is pretty low too. Japan’s extremely low. And so across the board you are taught, you’ll have all these developed countries that now have declining birth rates.
And when you look at countries like China, which I always think of as that massive billion plus country, take a look at Nigeria. At existing birth rates and birth trends. By the end of the century, Nigeria will have a bigger population than China, which is wild. And so there’s actually these very interesting when you zoom out and you think about what’s gonna happen over the next 50 years, developed countries, the richer countries are getting smaller and smaller.
And less developed countries are gonna get bigger and bigger. And so you pair that with this idea of, okay, more people are gonna be using ivf, more people are gonna wanna screen their embryos. It’s a very interesting question about where the world is going to go in terms of kind of the developed and the developing countries.
Mike: I guess we’ll have to see which cabal wins out, right? Cause
Khaled: this is who, who are gonna be creating the conspiracy theories of the.
Mike: I to speak so to it. Some this is, this has been a problem that the elites, you could say the intellectual elites have been wrestling with for some time.
And there, there certainly are people right now who they say they have solutions. Yeah. And there are people with a lot of money and a lot of power who say they have solutions. There are people thinking about this. It’s not something that’s talked about much. Yeah. Especially not. What are we gonna do about it?
Maybe Bill Gates, I think he mentioned in a TED talk about bringing down fertility so we could, Yeah. Prevent in a doubling of the world’s population over the next X years or whatever. Yeah. But it’s not a discussion that it’s had probably more Behind, behind private doors. It’s not really a public
People are not gonna be talking about that, that what do we
Mike: actually do about this? Because, you look at living conditions. If you were to look at Nigeria and you go, there’s a lot of. Human suffering that is going to happen if we just take the current situation and blow the population up.
Multiply it. Yep. Yeah.
Khaled: And this is what’s interesting to me, which is when I talk to men who are thinking about freezing their sperm or thinking about having kids, the one word they keep coming back to is actually there’s two words that they use all the time when it comes to having a family.
The first is inevit. They describe having a family, something that they are going to do at some point. The second thing they say is not quite yet, and for a lot of the men who say not quite yet it’s because of financial instability. Cuz they’re sitting there thinking, kids cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
You gotta send ’em to school, you gotta get childcare, you gotta get healthcare, you gotta send ’em to university. Which by the way now costs 150 plus thousand dollars or not.
Mike: What is, I mean there are so many degrees now that are just worth.
Khaled: True. But let’s, if we’re talking about the intellectual elite, right?
Who wanna send their kids to Ivy League schools and they wanna send ’em to the best prep schools and get them the best childcare, you’re talking about like hundreds of thousands of dollars of investments. And this is what’s interesting to me, is actually the reason that we are all having less children is because people feel less financially comfortable.
And so the kind of the middle class or saying, Hey, let’s just delay having kids for a while. And so the only way you can really rectify that from my perspective is you need to actually have more of a safety net for. For families that are starting, sorry for couples that are starting families like Canada has, I think it was called like the milk the milk benefit or something like when you have kids, you get a stipend for the government to help defray the cost of having a kid.
You take a look at countries in Scandinavia, I think it’s Norway, that has the baby box, which is like a big box of supplies that they give to all new parents to help defray some of the costs of childcare in their early years. This is the only way, which is helping to compensate for some of the cost of having a kid that, birth rates are ever gonna go back up.
Mike: have any such economic incentives here in the States?
Khaled: I don’t know. Outside of our, don’t, I guess our welfare
Mike: system that people can use that.
Khaled: I don’t think there’s anything meaningful. So if you’re not on Medicaid and you’re not getting any childcare benefits related to Medicaid, let’s say you’re in middle or lower middle income, then you’re not gonna have any support at all.
And that’s why I think in countries, like if you take a look at the continent in Africa, part of the reason that folks can afford to have more kids is because there’s much more of a community. This concept, if it takes a village to raise a child, you have your aunts and you have the grandparents and you have, people around you who are gonna help you take care of the kids.
It’s much more communal than in the US where. I don’t even know my neighbors let alone ask them to take care of my baby child for the day. , things like that. Totally.
Mike: Yeah. Hey, this was a great discussion. It was funny we went all over the place. But so you mentioned your company a few times, but where can people Yeah.
Find your company online and if they’re interested, what should they do? They go to your website and what’s a good
Khaled: starting. . Yeah, go to the website, give legacy.com or just Google legacy sperm testing, legacy, vasectomy, whatever you want. And you will find us. Just don’t go to legacy.com because that’s an obituary website.
So give legacy.com is where you’ll find us. If you are New York or California, the product is likely covered by your insurance provider. So take a look. You may even be able to get the product at no cost. If you are in the military, if you’re in the Navy Seals, if you’re in the green bras, give us a shout.
You are likely to be eligible for some of the programs that we have with those with those organizations and find us online as well. Our Instagram handle, which is not the coolest handle in the world, is Give Legacy Inc. But you’ll find a lot of great content on there. And if you’re thinking about testing your sperm, freezing your sperm just let us know and you can order Kit online.
You’ll get it the next day. And we make the process as easy as possible and it will take as long as it takes you to produce a sample. So anywhere from a minute to an.
Mike: Quick question for people wondering on the testing side of things. What, what, So let’s say I’m a 20 x year old guy.
Yeah. And is there a reason to start with a test, even if I’m not thinking with. Yeah. Freezing. Am I gonna
Khaled: learn something? You always need to start with a test. Sure. You a lot about your body. Yeah, exactly. is a great biomarker of your overall health. This, so you should want to know, you can even do a DNA fragmentation test, which is an advanced form of analysis.
Figure out how much DNA damage you may or may not have in your sperm. But definitely start with a test before, before you go into freeze.
Mike: Cool. Cool. Thanks man. Thanks for doing this. This was great, .
Khaled: This was a lot of fun. Yeah. Thanks for having me, Mike. Yeah. I
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