Why a ring may not be as safe as you think

A ring that’s made from a synthetic substance is not necessarily as safe or effective as a real one, according to research from the Australian Financial Services Commission (AFSC).

A new report from the commission found there was “little evidence” that a ring made from the substance could stop pregnancy, and it also found that the safety of artificial rings was “poor”.

“While there is no scientific evidence that artificial ring materials are safe or that they are effective in preventing pregnancy, there is some indication that they may be less effective in that regard than natural ring materials,” said AFSC chief executive officer Tim Scott.

“These data are very troubling and highlight the need for stronger regulation of artificial or synthetic products.”

The research found ring makers were “firmly aware” of the need to maintain the safety and efficacy of artificial and synthetic materials.

“Manufacturers must be confident that the material they use does not pose any risk to the health of users, which is why they will always strive to ensure that the product meets all the standards and requirements of the Health Products Standards Authority (HPSA),” the report said.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s (AIHW) deputy chief executive, Dr Fiona Stewart, said it was important to remember that natural or synthetic rings were “ancient”, and were used in cultures for thousands of years.

She said while some manufacturers “may have been aware” that ring-making could cause harm to women and girls, “that doesn’t mean they should not be doing their best to ensure their products meet these standards.”

Dr Stewart said the AIHW was working with the government and industry to promote “good manufacturing practices” for artificial and hybrid rings, and said she believed there was a lot more that could be done to protect women’s health.

Dr Scott said while the study did not address the safety or efficacy of synthetic or artificial rings, the research highlights the need “for more stringent regulation” of them.

A spokeswoman for the Australian Centre for Bioethics said the organisation was “disappointed” by the findings, and would work with industry to ensure more safeguards were in place to protect consumers.

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