ELI5: What is the dark line that pregnant women get that goes from their belly button to their pubic region, why do they get it, and when/why does it disappear?

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The *linea nigra* (literally “dark line”) is an effect produced by growth hormones from the placenta. It usually fades after the baby is born.

ElfMage83

i never developed a linea nigra in any of my pregnancies. so it’s not a universal thing. (also did not develop stretch marks, but I did develop children, so was definitely pregnant)

NotBigAndNotClever

To add to what everyone else has said, the Linea nigra need not appear only during pregnancy. Since it’s caused by a hormone, people with hormone imbalances, or diseases like PCOS, can also get it. Also, people with darker skin (like SE Asians or Africans), are more prone to it, because their skin naturally contains more melanin. Adolescents can also get it, because of the swirl of hormones that occur during puberty.

redheadphones1673

I had the linea nigra with my first pregnancy. By the time my son turned one it had faded but not completely and I found out on his first birthday I was pregnant for the second time. I thought it would come back dark since it hadn’t completely faded. Instead it continued to fade over the next couple if months completely.

melstall

Its not only pregnant women who get it, I got it during my puberty years which is like most commenters said, due to hormonal changes

rawrfudge