What causes gynecomastia?
Gynecomastia is a condition when a man gets enlarged breast tissue. In newborns, it is caused by the estrogen from the mother. These breast buds go away when the baby turns six months old. It may happen that in some babies, these breast buds last longer. Gynecomastia, commonly called “man boobs”, does not have to be permanent.
The causes of gynecomastia in preteen boys are estrogen-producing tumours. The breast buds can last up to 2 years. On the other hand, in teen boys, the hormonal changes during puberty are the main causes of this condition. It hits the boys between early to mid puberty.
In adult men, the causes of gynecomastia could be overactive thyroid, lung and liver cancer, liver cirrhosis, and any other hormonal problems. Regular use of alcohol and drugs can also lead to gynecomastia. Older men may experience it because of the hormonal changes in their bodies.
The use of certain medicines may also be one of the main causes of gynecomastia. These medicines are:
- Antianxiety and antidepressant medicines
- Steroids like prednisone
- Medication for ulcers and epilepsy
- Chemotherapy and antiandrogen drugs
Tea tree and lavender oils can also cause changes in the breast tissue in men. The reason behind it is that these oils contain natural estrogen that might change the body’s natural hormone. Health problems like overactive thyroid and kidney diseases are the most common cause of gynecomastia.
Men with gynecomastia may experience fluid discharge from the nipples. They might develop a rubbery mass under the nipple area. The mass is usually less than an inch and a half.
There are no clear causes of gynecomastia. It is advised to regularly check your health and consult your doctor or an endocrinologist. During your consultation call or appointment, the doctor may ask you some questions that include:
- Questions that answer the status of your overall health.
- If you have seen such a condition earlier in your family?
- If you have noticed any difference in your nipple size?
- Changes that you might have noticed in your breast.
- Questions related to your lifestyle and practices like the consumption of alcohol and use of a drug.
- If you have faced any infertility problem in the past?
- If you have felt any discharge or pain in the breast?
These are the common questions that a doctor asks a patient who experiences the symptoms of gynecomastia. You may be asked to take blood and hormone tests to understand the depth of the problem. A physical examination will help assess your health and know if there is swelling in the lymph nodes or the breast size has changed.
Gynecomastia caused by cancer and tumours is rare. If the doctor suspects a tumour’s role, they may suggest that the patient undergo a biopsy or mammogram. In a biopsy, a piece of lump is removed and is studied closely in a lab. It helps in getting an understanding of the involvement of tumour or cancer in gynecomastia.
Usually, there is no requirement for any treatment. In teenagers, the breast will go back to its standard shape within 2 to 3 years. To reduce any pain during this time, you can use ice packs and ibuprofen.
Any changes in the breast shape due to medication will go back to normal. When one switches to other drugs or stops taking the medicines, the breast size reduces to the standard size. It is advised to stop consuming alcohol and any other illegal drugs. Gyno causes due to a health issue can be treated under medical supervision.
The doctor may advise you to undergo medications to reduce the breast size and estrogen production in your body. Surgery in the breast area can also reduce the breast size. The extra tissues are removed from the breast to bring it to the expected size. Surgery may make the chest look flatter, and in that case, repositioning of the nipple may be required. Some people undergo liposuction to bring the chest to the original shape and make it appear fuller.
With the help of surgery, the breasts can be brought to their original shape. To retain the shape, you should indulge yourself in physical activities. Changes in lifestyle habits can help to maintain the new shape. Gynecomastia may come back if you do not hold a healthy lifestyle and instead indulge in gaining weight, using steroids, and taking illegal drugs.