What is an IUB?
You might have heard of and be familiar with the T-shaped IUD and might be thinking IUB must be a typo. “Darn autocorrect” right? Wrong! IUB is the newest kid on the block when it comes to non-hormonal contraception. IUB stands for “Intrauterine Ball” and it is a hormone-free contraception that lasts up to 5 years.
You might now be wondering; why is it ball-shaped and why does that matter? how does it work? is it safe, and how is it different from other forms of birth control?
When you go to a car dealership wanting to buy a car, you want to know the specs and what makes that car safe, fast, fuel efficient and right for you. So, in the same way, consider yourself in a birth control dealership right now, let’s talk about the specs of the IUB.
Unlike the T-shaped intrauterine devices, the IUB is uterus friendly. The ball shape means that you don’t have to worry about uterine perforation from pointy edges. It is made up of copper pearls that are held on a flexible and elastic frame made up of Nitinol, which is a really flexible material that can be manipulated but always retains its original shape. Nitinol is the material that allows the IUB to maintain its ball shape for as long as it remains in the uterus.
The IUB is very small, with a diameter of only 15mm.
“Sticks and stones may break my bones” …. but probably not the IUB! In addition to the frame that holds the pearls being made of the flexi-material Nitinol, it is also coated in a polymer which adds to the elasticity of the IUB. This kind of flexibility can give your yoga instructor and gymnast Simone Biles a run for their money.
At the top of the list of all things comfortable, you might have sweat-pants, bra off, a unicorn onesie and of course some bubbly during a bubble bath, right? Add the IUB to that list.
The flexibility that the Nitinol allows means that the IUB can pretty much move around and dance in your uterus and contract together with your uterus whilst maintaining its shape. In other words, it bends to the will of your uterus without causing you any pain or discomfort. Uterus friendly!
So how exactly does the IUB work?
The IUB gets straight to work when inserted. Rather than releasing hormones, it prevents pregnancy by releasing small amounts of copper ions from the copper pearls for up to 5 years. These copper ions work by:
· Interfering with the process of fertilization by preventing sperm from fertilizing the egg
· Limiting sperm mobility making it hard for sperm to reach the egg
· Preventing egg from implanting in the uterus
At this point, some of you might be getting flashbacks of the periodic table in chemistry class and thinking “Wow, wait, what? Copper in my body? Isn’t copper a metal? That sounds toxic!”. The same can be said for iron but we know that we need iron in our body so that we can have blood. We also have and need copper in our body for bodily functions such as maintaining healthy bones, immune systems, and nerves. You may not necessarily swallow coins for a snack, but if you have recently eaten nuts, dried fruits, potatoes, or seasoned a good steak with black pepper, you have actually ingested copper. The amount of copper released from the IUB is much less than that which you naturally ingest in your normal diet.
So unless you have copper allergies or Wilson’s disease, you don’t have to worry about copper causing your body any harm. The IUB allows your body to function normally whilst preventing pregnancy using a naturally occurring element.
So that, friends, is what the IUB is.