Hospitals & Facilities

Author and investor Leslie Schrock’s new book aims to demystify fertility

And it’s not just for the birthing parent: Her book talks about male and female fertility.
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Leslie Schrock

· 6 min read

A new book from healthcare investor and advisor Leslie Schrock is the sex ed class you wish you had in school.

Fertility Rules, which comes out on June 6, aims to be a guide and resource for patients and providers to get the most out of their appointments together. The evidence-backed book, which Schrock calls a prequel to her first guide, Bumpin’, also focuses on helping readers set a baseline by understanding their bodies, optimizing their fertility with lifestyle changes, and then taking action.

“It’s not like I’m randomly making things up or trying to be a fertility influencer—that is not the point,” Schrock said. “There are a lot of smart people out there doing a lot of great work. I see my job as elevating their work and combining it into something that people can listen to, read, and enjoy.”

Healthcare Brew sat down with Schrock to talk about Fertility Rules, how men can better participate in the fertility process, and why she’s (begrudgingly) on TikTok.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Why was this book important for you to write?

I think we have a real problem on our hands, and I don’t think anyone is talking about it really in the correct fashion. What I have seen a lot is medical providers and complementary practitioners who work in fertility want the same thing that patients do, which is healthier bodies going into this experience. They want to have more functional relationships with their patients—respectful, open, collaborative, communicative—and it’s very difficult in the world that we live in today for patients to feel empowered to ask questions and to make the most of these short, little 15-minute appointments. Providers feel the same way.

Because we are taught so little about our reproductive health as kids, we’re just at a deficit going into these appointments, and we’re at a deficit when we’re dealing with our bodies. It’s really important to me that medical professionals look at my writing and say, “Huh, even I learned something from this.”

You’ve been in this healthcare space for a while as an investor. Do you see these 15-minute appointments as something that needs to change, or that a book like Fertility Rules could help patients and providers make the most of the status quo?

It’s probably never been harder to be a doctor in a lot of ways. Doctors become doctors because they want to help people, because they love the field of medicine, because they have an itch to learn more to help people—and the 15-minute appointments aren’t working well for them either. That said, I don’t really know that the system is going to change that much when it comes to the kinds of appointments and interactions that we have with some kinds of medical providers.

I’m heartened by the growth of midwifery again. Most of the time when you work with a midwife during pregnancy, you get a longer appointment. Obstetrics today really is about looking for problems—it’s not about proactive healthcare. And nothing is really proactive healthcare at this point.

There’s no reason you can’t ask a nurse practitioner what we call the Sushi questions: “Can I eat sushi during pregnancy?” “Can I drink coffee?” The answers to these questions are known, and it shouldn’t be something, frankly, that you even have to bring up with your OB. We should be supporting patients with other resources because there are better ways to spend that time rather than asking them the same questions that everybody does. That's why I’m writing. You talk to doctors, the questions are all the same. You talk to patients, the questions are all the same. We just need some kind of shared understanding.

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I really like how you talk about fertility from both the male and female perspective. Why was that important to include?

Men are responsible for half of all infertility. They’re also responsible for half of the genetic material in a human. We should really deeply care about men’s health, but men don’t care about their own health. Men will do just about anything to avoid going to the doctor for as long as possible unless an appendage is actually falling off.

Men’s health is actually, in many respects, worse than women’s health. They die younger, they have more chronic conditions, and they live unhealthier lives. So when I look at fertility, it represents a unique opportunity for us to step back and say, “Hey, men, we know you don’t like to go to the doctor. However, your health going into a pregnancy—the sperm you’re contributing to that pregnancy—deeply affects your future children and also affects what that pregnancy will be like for your partner. It’s not just about you. So if you don’t care about yourself, fine. But do you care about your partner? Ostensibly, yes. And do you care about your future children? I certainly hope so if you’re planning on having children.”

That said, about half of pregnancies aren’t planned. So it’s yet again why I think fertility goes beyond just the moment that you’re ready to have children, because for about half the people who have children, they weren’t actually planning on doing that. Planning to take a look at your fertility in your 20s and your 30s as a guy is just a smart thing to do. But they don’t have the same kind of proactive healthcare that we do with gynecologists.

What do you think would help with that paradigm shift? Is it something like Fertility Rules, or something else that might integrate men better into this process?

It starts with sex ed. I’ve never understood why we teach men and women about their bodies separately. We should be starting that education with “This is how men’s bodies work, and this is how women’s bodies work. Periods aren’t gross. This is what sperm is.” Most people don’t even know the difference between semen and sperm. Sperm is actually a good biomarker for a man’s overall health.

Are you on TikTok to debunk fertility myths?

I am begrudgingly on TikTok. Part of me really enjoys it, but part of me feels a little old for it. If you think about Gen Z, there’s clearly a big shift. The men want to be better partners, they want to be more involved fathers, they want to do and be more. TikTok is where all of the Gen Zers are getting their health information, so we obviously have to go there and talk to them where they are.

Navigate the healthcare industry

Healthcare Brew covers pharmaceutical developments, health startups, the latest tech, and how it impacts hospitals and providers to keep administrators and providers informed.