Pregnancy Test Line Progression: Why Is My Test Getting Lighter?

Pregnancy Test Line Progression: Why Is My Test Getting Lighter?

So, you’ve taken a pregnancy test and there’s a little babe on the way.

Congrats, mama-to-be! 👪 

But since you’ve found out your exciting news, you’ve re-done the test and the positive test line is lighter.

Why does this happen? Is it normal? And what is the ‘hook effect’ in pregnancy?

We’ve got you covered.

Here’s everything you need to know about pregnancy test line progression, from test lines getting lighter or darker, to user error.

But before we start, we get that this whole TTC thing can be tough.

Wherever you’re at on your journey, we’re here for you. If you want to talk to other women who get it, you’re always welcome on Peanut.

In this article: 📝

  • How to read a pregnancy test
  • Should my pregnancy test get darker?
  • Why is my pregnancy test getting lighter but I have no bleeding?
  • Does a pregnancy test getting lighter mean miscarriage?
  • What if my positive test line disappears completely?
  • What to do if your pregnancy test line is getting lighter

How to read a pregnancy test

First things first, let’s quickly cover the basics.

Pregnancy tests work by testing for hCG in your urine — a hormone which is released during implantation.

If you have hCG in your urine, that means it’s go-time, and you’re very likely to be pregnant.

So, unless you’re testing digitally (where it very helpfully shows ‘Pregnant’ or ‘Not pregnant’, or sometimes even a fun smiley face 🙂), you’ll need to check for two lines:

  • Control line: this shows that the test has worked. Without this, the test would be considered invalid (time to get peeing on a stick again!).
  • Test line: this will only appear if a significant level of hCG is detected in your urine, which lets you know that you’re pregnant.

But because there are so many different brands of tests out there, it’s super important to familiarise yourself with the specific instructions.

Some may need you to pee on the stick for 10 seconds, or to dip in urine for 20 seconds; some need you to wait for two minutes, some for five… we know, it’s a minefield. 😵‍💫

But knowing all that, and what each line means, let’s move on to explore positive pregnancy test progression together.

Should my pregnancy test get darker?

In short, yeshCG typically doubles every two to three days during the first weeks of pregnancy, meaning the test line should get darker.

Does a very dark line mean twins?

You might have heard the rumor that if you have an immediate dark positive line, this could be mean twins! 👯‍♀️

(Not to alarm you! 😅)

But if your test line is darker than your control line, that could mean you’ve experienced a dye stealer pregnancy test (basically, your pregnancy is loud and proud!).

But in most cases, if you’re taking a few tests throughout your pregnancy (shout-out to all the TTC women out there ❤️), the test line will likely get darker over time, anyway.

But don’t worry — there are a few reasons why a test line may get more faint or even disappear completely throughout your pregnancy.

Why is my pregnancy test getting lighter but I have no bleeding?

So, you’ve peed on the stick correctly (as simple as it sounds, it can go wrong!) and you’re a pro at reading pregnancy tests.

But after testing a few times, that BFP is getting fainter each time.

First off — don’t panic, this doesn’t mean you’re getting less pregnant (we know, it’s giving COVID rapid-test trauma… shudders).

So, why is your pregnancy test line getting lighter over time?

Higher/lower hCG levels

That pesky ‘hCG’ term is cropping up again, and with good reason.

It may well be that your hCG levels during your first test were higher than your tests since then.

Seeing a lighter line after a previous darker one is totally normal — it could simply be that you’re more hydrated than before, so your latest pee is more diluted.

But, no matter how faint, two lines on a pregnancy test is a positive result.

It just means that the more diluted your pee, the harder it is for the test to detect hCG - the one time being well-hydrated is an issue!

That’s why testing first thing in the morning is best — when your urine is the most concentrated, so definitely keep up your water intake during the day, mama-to-be. 💦

Hook effect in pregnancy

Now, here’s where things get a bit more complicated.

Although pregnancy tests are designed to measure hCG levels in urine, in later pregnancy, if the hCG levels are too high, this can cause a false-negative result (these things are never simple… 🤦‍♀️).

This can either cause your positive result to become more faint, or to disappear completely (a false-negative).

This usually happens when hCG levels are above 500,000mlU/ML, although this does vary from person to person (but it tends to be somewhere around 10 weeks on average).

But although it happens, it is pretty rare… so just keep an eye out for it, just in case!

Does a pregnancy test getting lighter mean miscarriage?

Just because your pregnancy tests are getting lighter, that doesn’t necessarily mean you are experiencing a pregnancy loss.

For many women, a dark test one day and a light test the next just means they’ve drunk more water!

It’s also worth noting that if you do sadly experience a pregnancy loss, the higher hCG levels may still be in your urine for a few weeks after a miscarriage.

This is important to know if you’re planning to start your TTC journey for your next cycle.

What if my positive test line disappears completely?

If the sneaky hook effect isn’t the culprit, there may be a few other things at play here:

Different pregnancy test brands

Different pregnancy tests brands can have differing levels of sensitivity, so results may look slightly dissimilar.

It’s best to use the same brand each time so you can be extra sure your results are accurate!

You had a faint line to begin with

If you had a faint positive line to begin with, and the line has got even fainter, or disappeared completely, your initial positive line could have been an evaporation line rather than a positive result.

We really do feel your pain if is the case for you.

It’s incredibly frustrating and very disappointing, but this can happen when too much time has passed between taking the test and checking the result.

But try not to stress — these things happen from time to time, and it’s no-ones fault.

Chemical pregnancy

Another reason could be due to a chemical (or biochemical) pregnancy, which is a very early miscarriage (usually before the 6th week).

This happens when an egg is fertilized but doesn’t fully implant into the uterus.

(A note to you, mama: we understand how heartbreaking this can be, and that the term ‘chemical’ can feel loaded with negative connotations — which is why we’re suggesting the term ‘early pregnancy loss’ as part of our #RenamingRevolution. If you’re going through this, we feel for you. You’re not alone.)

What to do if your pregnancy test line is getting lighter

Remember, if your positive test lines are getting lighter, it’s best to give the doc a heads-up anyway, just to make sure everything’s ticking along okay.

And of course, if this is ever accompanied by any bleeding, pain, or anything else you’re concerned about, get in touch with your healthcare provider as soon as possible.

If you want to connect with other women who know what you’re going through, join us on Peanut.

Our Community is always here to chat — day or night. ❤️

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