Gynecomastia in males is a common condition that occurs in men and boys, leading to breast tissue swelling. It occurs when the balance of two hormones is disturbed in a person. If the breast tissues are enlarged due to the deposition of fat, then the condition is known as ‘pseudogynecomastia’.
All boys are born with a small quantity of breast tissue. However, in males, the breast tissues are not developed the same way as in females.
In boys, the hormone testosterone is responsible for sexual maturity. But their body also produces some amount of estrogen, which steers sexual development in girls.
When the body produces less testosterone or a high amount of oestrogen at puberty or adulthood, the balance between them gets disturbed. Hence the higher level of oestrogen in the body leads to swelling of breast tissue and causes teenage gynecomastia.
It has been found that almost half of adolescent boys and around two-thirds of men above 50 years experience some extent of men gynecomastia.
Gynecomastia in Male Symptoms
The first and primary symptom of gynecomastia in male is a fatty lump under the nipple. It can be tender or sore. Sometimes people mistake it for breast cancer, which occurs in a small number of men. Gynecomastia in male does not necessarily mean that the person has cancer; however, your doctor will run some tests to be entirely sure.
Breast swelling happens unevenly; one breast may become larger than the other. Above all, breast tenderness is also a symptom of gynecomastia.
If you notice swelling, your breast becomes tender or painful, or there is discharge from one or both nipples, you should see a doctor.
Causes of Gynecomastia
There are a lot of factors that can lead to hormonal imbalance in the body, which is then responsible for gynecomastia. However, many times the exact cause that triggers breast growth is unknown.
Apart from body changes such as ageing and puberty, other factors also lead to male gynecomastia. Some of them are:
- Injury and diseases that are associated with testicles are responsible for the production of testosterone.
- Hormones from thyroid glands control sexual development; hence any thyroid gland problem can cause gynecomastia.
- Cancer in the lung, pituitary gland or adrenal gland.
- Obesity as it leads to more production of oestrogen.
- Consumption of illegal drugs such as heroin, anabolic steroids, and marijuana.
- Kidney failure and lung diseases
- Some boys get gynecomastia as the hormone from their mother remains briefly in their bodies.
Apart from these factors, some types of medicines can cause men gynecomastia:
- Anti-androgens are taken to treat an enlarged prostate or prostate cancer.
- Anabolic steroids and androgens are sometimes used legally and, many times, illicitly by athletes to boost their performance.
- Anti-anxiety drugs are also known to cause gynecomastia in men.
- Heart medications and calcium channel blockers can also sometimes cause gynecomastia.
- Medicines on an empty stomach can also have gynecomastia as a side effect.
- Medicines bought over the counter to treat ulcers can also lead to gynecomastia.
- Antibiotics, cancer treatment medications, and antidepressants are all known causes of gynecomastia.
Male Gynecomastia Treatment
Most cases of teenage gynecomastia eventually get treated on their own without needing any treatment. However, other cases need treatment.
Your doctor will recommend you to a specialist called an endocrinologist to treat problems related to hormones and make you understand how they affect your body.
The treatment of gynecomastia depends on the patient’s age, health, how long the condition may last, and how the body responds to certain drugs. If the condition occurs at puberty, i.e. teenage gynecomastia, it generally goes away on its own. However, it can take somewhere between 6 months to 3 years.
If the condition is caused by hormonal imbalance or other health conditions, it becomes vital to treat the underlying disease. Generally, medications are given to treat hormonal issues causing breast growth. However, some cases might need surgery. Techniques used by doctors are:
- Liposuction (extra breast fat removal)
- Mastectomy (breast gland tissue removal)
- Men Gynecomastia prevention
There are various steps to reduce the possibility of teenage gynecomastia or any other age. They are:
- Do not use illicit or recreational drugs like androgens, anabolic steroids, marijuana, heroin, etc.
- Do not drink alcohol or drink moderately.
- If you are on any medications, get them checked to know if it is the cause of your condition. If yes, then ask for an alternative.
Hence one should avoid doing these things and reduce the chances of getting gynecomastia.
Male Gynecomastia Complications
Gynecomastia can have an impact on one’s mental health. Men with gyno can feel anxious, depressed, or embarrassed. Hence to manage these issues, one should take the following steps:
- Talk with your doctor about gynecomastia complications on your mental health. They might recommend you to a mental health specialist.
- It is vital to talk to your family and friends about your feelings. They can provide you with emotional backing.
- Support groups can help a lot of men with gyno. Talking to people who understand what you are going through can make you feel better.
Gynecomastia in male is a common condition. There is nothing to be ashamed of for men with gyno. If you have this condition, talk to your doctor and get treatment.