The ballerine IUB device is the newest UK contraceptive—and it’s hormone free

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  • Did we mention that it's half the size of the copper IUD and 99% effective for up to five years?

    Ever heard of the ballerine IUB? You likely won’t have, as it’s the newest form of contraception available in the UK. What makes it different to all the others, you ask? Well, it’s hormone-free, for one, and it’s significantly smaller than the copper IUD.

    Of course, there’s no catch-all contraceptive that will work for everyone. Take the contraceptive pill, for example. Promising to be 90% successful in stopping you conceiving, the NHS website also states that it can help with issues like PCOS, adult acne, endometriosis, and irregular periods. But for some women, putting synthetic hormones in your body can cause negative side effects that range from the occasional missed period to mood swings, loss of libido, and weight gain.

    Sure, the pill isn’t the only option. There are loads of different types of contraceptives: from the coil, to the implant, to the injection. Knowing which one is for you and won’t wreak havoc on your hormones can be tough, and inevitably takes some trial and error. That is, you’d hazard a guess, unless you go with an option – like the ballerine – that doesn’t have hormones in it at all.

    Other hormone-free contraception includes the existing intrauterine devices (IUD), the diaphragm or cap, and male and female condoms. But the ballerine is the new kid on the block, and we’re here to put it through its paces.

    So we drafted in a doctor to tell you everything you need to know about how it works, where you can get it, and how to decide if it’s the one for you. Keep scrolling.

    Everything you need to know about the ballerine IUB device

    What is the ballerine IUB?

    According to doctor Dani Gordon, it’s a new form of hormone-free contraception that promises to be effective for up to five years, have 99% efficacy, and fit easily inside your uterus thanks to its round, ‘uterus friendly’ shape.

    How does it work? Well, “by releasing small amounts of copper, a metal, locally in the womb to cause irritation,” she shares. “This prevents pregnancy in the same way as older copper IUDS did – largely by interfering with the sperm’s swimming ability,” she shares.

    She points out that it is different from the old copper IUDs, though, as it’s smaller (about half the size) and shaped like a sphere, not a T. “This sphere curls up in the womb and may be easier to both insert and remove, due to its smaller size,” the doctor explains.

    product shot of ballerine IUB

    What should I know about it?

    According to their website, the IUB has been used by over 95,000 women in 30 countries worldwide.

    However, Gordon points out that it is worth noting that the majority of studies done on it were funded by the inventor of the IUB and the company itself. “This, of course, makes it open to bias and conflicts of interest,” she explains.

    “But, the results did show that the IUB was well tolerated and liked by the majority of women who tested it,” she adds. This is unlike the copper T IUD, which some women found makes their bleeding and periods heavier or more painful.

    When was it invented? 

    It’s actually been around for years – since 2014 – and is widely available in Israel and 19 countries across Europe and Africa. Sadly, the IUB device took some time to make it into British surgeries, and thanks to the pandemic, it’s set to be delayed even further. It was scheduled to be rolled out at NHS GP surgeries last year, but was postponed, and it remains unclear when it will be available on the NHS.

    Not all is lost, though: you can get ballerine prescribed privately, if you’ve decided that it’s for you. Or, you could wait, it’ll be available in the UK soon – with OCON Medical, the original developers of the IUB, telling Refinery29 that they reckon it’ll be available by the end of this year.

    They said: “We have a partner in the UK, who is in discussions with the NHS. Unfortunately, COVID has pushed us back, so we’ve had to put those plans on hold a little bit,” Daniela says. “It’s very hard to say exactly how long it will take. It might be next month, it might be in the autumn – but we are in active discussions and we hope that we can launch it this year.”

    So, who is the ballerine IUB best for?

    According to doctor Gordon, the ballerine is ideal for women who prefer a non-hormonal form of birth control.

    “Many of my patients ask for non-hormonal options as part of an integrative medicine approach to contraception,” she explains. “This is often because they have experienced side effects with hormonal birth control options in the past or they have a personal preference for a more ‘natural’ approach that still protects them further from pregnancy.”

    Plus, not having to remember to take a pill every day is a big draw for many women, she adds.

    However, it is worth noting that some might find the insertion process uncomfortable, or dislike the idea of having more permanent contraception inside them. But as with every type of contraceptive, the choice is an individual one, and will have different pros and cons for everyone.

    So what do you reckon? Would you consider opting for the ballerine?

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