In school, many of us were taught how to avoid pregnancy through the use of contraceptives. However, the basic details about conception are still unclear to many. Many people believe that having a baby is as easy as trying, with no planning or preparation before. This approach leads to disappointment for many, as it can take up to a year or longer to become pregnant after starting the process.

“While most sex education is spent teaching people how to avoid pregnancy, very little time is invested in empowering them with the guidance needed to become pregnant when they’re ready,” said Maven Clinic’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Neel Shah.

Even without in-depth education on getting pregnant, studies show that nearly all women recognize the need to achieve optimal health before conception and the benefit of receiving information before conception.

This process, also known as preconception care, represents a critical step for people who are trying to conceive—yet the vast majority will never receive this care. Research from AAFP found that 86% of women are not getting preconception care from their family physician or OB-GYN, leading some people to seek unnecessary fertility care and others to experience adverse pregnancy outcomes, like premature birth, low birthweight, or birth defects. 

Employers play an important role in connecting their employees with healthcare resources, which includes preconception care. By ensuring that employees have the information and support they need during the trying to conceive process, employers can help improve outcomes and lower healthcare costs for the employee and the company alike.

Here's what HR leaders need to know about preconception care benefits.


What is preconception care?
Preconception care is critical for conception and combating misinformation

Barriers to preconception care for employees

How employers can manage costs with preconception care benefits

Designing preconception care benefits that make a difference

Supporting employees' family journeys with Maven

What is preconception care?

Preconception care is personalized, preventative care that helps employees increase their chance of having a healthy baby. Unlike prenatal care, which happens during pregnancy, preconception care should begin at least three months prior to trying to conceive (TTC). It encompasses a wide range of clinical, emotional, and social interventions designed to address the health problems of aspiring parents, and reduce risk factors.

For example, during preconception care, women of reproductive age receive routine blood pressure checks. If diagnosed with hypertension, they receive guidance on lifestyle changes and medications that are safe to take during pregnancy. People may also be coached on what a healthy weight is leading into pregnancy, and the health risks associated with higher weights. Those with diabetes are advised on the importance of glucose control for a healthy pregnancy and learn more about gestational diabetes. 

Lifestyle changes and recommendations commonly advised as a part of preconception health include:

  • Quitting tobacco use
  • Limiting alcohol consumption
  • Reducing stress
  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Achieving a healthy weight
  • Adjusting prescription medicines
  • Staying current with vaccines
  • Managing sexually transmitted infections
  • Folic acid supplementation 

When future parents take these steps, their babies are less likely to be born early, have a low birthweight, or be born with birth defects. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends all women and men follow these recommendations, regardless of plans to conceive. Not only does doing so contribute to overall health, but it protects babies in the case of unplanned pregnancies, which account for 50% of pregnancies in the U.S.

Maven’s State of Women’s and Family Health Benefits 2024

How fertility, maternal health, and Gen Z are transforming benefits decisions.

Download report
Maven’s State of Women’s and Family Health Benefits 2024

Preconception care is critical for conception and combating misinformation

Preconception care is not only critical for the health of parents and babies, it’s important for fertility and conception in the first place. Health screenings can identify and address conditions or risk factors that negatively impact fertility. Basic education about menstrual cycles and ovulation can help couples understand the optimal timing to try to conceive. 

Unfortunately, the lack of understanding and education about their reproductive health status from trusted physicians means that employees are turning to other sources. Recent studies show that 73% of people have searched for medical information through social media—but many receive misinformation instead. A Maven survey found that three-quarters of women believe three or more falsehoods about her fertility, and a study of articles about male infertility found that nearly half of content studied was misleading or inaccurate.

Preconception counseling is an important opportunity to learn about different paths to parenthood, as well. “People are typically unaware of the options available to them when they learn their chances of getting pregnant on their own are low,” explained Dr. Brian Levine, Reproductive Endocrinologist and founding partner of leading fertility clinic CCRM. “Through preconception counseling, they can discuss alternative routes to pregnancy, like using the egg from another woman or sperm from another man.”  

Barriers to preconception care for employees

  • Lack of awareness: One of the primary barriers to preconception health care is a lack of awareness about its importance and availability. Many employees, particularly those planning their first pregnancy, are unaware of the benefits of preconception care and the potential risks associated with an absence of this health care.
  • Cost and insurance coverage: For many employees, the cost of preconception care services and the uncertainty surrounding insurance coverage represent a significant deterrent, and some may assume that their insurance plans don't cover preconception care.
  • Time constraints: Finding time for preconception care appointments and consultations can be challenging for employees. Balancing work responsibilities with personal healthcare needs can be daunting, leading some employees to deprioritize or postpone preconception care.
  • Access to resources: In some cases, the barrier to preconception care may stem from a lack of access to appropriate resources or healthcare providers. Employees living in rural or underserved areas may face challenges in finding qualified preconception care providers or navigating the healthcare system.

How employers manage costs with preconception care benefits

Because people lack adequate preconception health care and resources, some may start invasive fertility treatments like IUI or IVF earlier than necessary, driving up costs alongside increased risk. One cycle of IVF can cost up to $20,000—but with preconception care, employers could avoid shouldering these treatment costs and any additional costs resulting from a high-risk pregnancy. In an internal Maven analysis, 30% of members who received preconception care achieved pregnancy without assisted reproductive technology like IVF, driving significant cost savings for employers and employees alike.

Designing preconception care benefits to make a difference

Employers have an essential role to play in ensuring that their employees receive the preconception support necessary to start and grow their families. More leading employers are opting to prioritize health when trying to conceive as part of their benefits package, working with vendors to ensure that employees receive appropriate care and education to achieve a healthy pregnancy. 

These benefits should include:

On-demand access to specialist support

Virtual preconception care is a valuable resource for employees who live in rural or underserved areas, or those who may not have the time or means to travel to an appointment. Preconception health or trying to conceive benefits should provide employees with 24/7 virtual access to a range of specialists, including nutritionists, fertility awareness educators, OB-GYNs, reproductive endocrinologists, and mental health therapists.

Holistic care for preconception and beyond

Benefits providers should offer a care model that integrates clinical, emotional, and financial health during the TTC period and beyond. Some family benefits vendors make money by sending employees to fertility treatments, meaning they aren't incentivized to provide holistic preconception care. Look for vendors that aren't financially incentivized to send employees to treatment, which allows them to invest in quality, holistic preconception care and helps them pursue less invasive treatment when clinically appropriate.

Personalized care for every employee

Every employee is unique, and their preconception care should be as well. Vendors should offer Care Coaches who serve as an employee's guide through their preconception and fertility journey, connecting them with appropriate care and expert support when needed. These representatives can build a care plan that meets employees' needs, taking into account their health history, their family health history, and any chronic medical conditions.

Education to build health literacy

To combat misinformation, preconception health benefits should provide employees with expert-vetted content. This could include a library of content about preconception health, webinars, classes, and monitored forums to ensure that employees are able to get accurate information on preconception health when they need it.

Other ways to support employees seeking preconception health support

  • Offering flexible work arrangements, such as remote work options or adjustable schedules, to accommodate preconception care appointments. Providing comprehensive leave policies and encouraging a supportive workplace culture can help employees feel empowered to prioritize their preconception care without fear of negative consequences.
  • Prioritize benefits communication, ensuring that employees fully understand both the importance of preconception health and the benefits options available to them. Newsletters, informational sessions, Slack messages, ERG partnerships, and more can all help spread the word about preconception support.

Supporting employees' family journeys with Maven

TTC benefits can make a significant and long-lasting positive impact on health and well-being outcomes for individuals, and business outcomes for your organization.

To be truly effective they need to meet the ever-changing needs and expectations of your workforce and should extend beyond subsidizing the cost of fertility treatments. Instead, HR leaders should craft comprehensive packages and policies that support employees at all stages; from preconception through to balancing work and family life when children come along.

Maven is the world’s largest virtual clinic for women and families on a mission to make healthcare work for all of us. Within our Fertility & Family Building program, members who are trying to conceive have access to more specialized, 1:1 TTC Coaching services based on their needs, conditions, and risks. This includes health education, goal setting, and continuous check-ins on their path to trying for a baby. 

“Maven is making sure every family can access the shortest pathway to having a healthy baby,” said Maven Clinic CEO and founder Kate Ryder. “We have constructed a unique model that, for the first time, aligns incentives among the stakeholders in healthcare to support people who are trying to conceive.”

Learn more about how Maven supports your employees through our TTC coaching and beyond by scheduling a demo today

Ready to get started with Maven?

See how Maven can support working families, retain talent, and reduce costs

Get started
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
maven employer benefits illustration

Activate your Maven account today

Maven members have unlimited access to 24/7 care and 30+ types of providers. Check to see if you have access to Maven providers and resources today.

Explore Maven