Gynecomastia is a medical term used for man boobs. It is a condition in which the breast glands swell and enlarge abnormally. The term refers to the enlargement of breasts in male tissues. It is an endocrine system disorder found in males. It is a very common problem among boys and men. Generally, it is caused by the hormonal imbalance, especially due to the imbalance of male hormones like estrogen and testosterone. Normally, both male and female bodies produce both these hormones – estrogen and testosterone, but yes, in different levels and separate extents.
Our body hormones testosterone and estrogen are the most basic and most important components of our body functioning. These hormones responsible for controlling the entire process of the development and maintenance of many major and genital organ features in both men as well as women.
Testosterone also called the male hormone is responsible for controlling the male traits and characteristics for example muscle mass and body hairs. Similarly, estrogen also called the female hormone is responsible for controlling the female traits and characteristics such as the growth of breast glands. Estrogen is commonly referred to as female hormone however it also affects the male body because male even produces this hormone. It is not exclusively a female hormone. It is produced by the male as well as female.
However, the quantity in which estrogens are produced by males and by females vary. Normally males produce them in smaller quantities as compared to females. But when the level of estrogen becomes too high in males then it causes gynecomastia, also referred to as man boob. There may be times when the level of estrogen becomes imbalanced with the levels of testosterone.
Gynecomastia may occur either in both the breasts or in any one breast as well. Sometimes it also affects in an uneven manner. Mostly the newborns, the growing boys, or the boys entering their puberty get affected by gynecomastia when hormonal changes are taking place in their body or may also be due to some other reasons at the time. Many a time some older men may also get affected by this problem. In general, gynecomastia is not a serious disease or problem. However, it may be a reason for the concern among boys and men. They sometimes feel awkward and sometimes even get embarrassed.
Gynecomastia is a very common problem which affects around 70% of teenage boys. However, if this is the cause, then gynecomastia can be just a temporary problem. The newborn boys and the teenage boys generally face temporary gynecomastia due to the hormonal changes that are occurring in their body at the time of puberty. Treatments of gynecomastia give the most effective results when their treatments are done within the problem period of two years. Or within 2 years of the male breast enlargement sequence.
Few boys and men even complain of pain in their breasts. This pain may also be due to gynecomastia. Consulting a medical expert or a doctor will generally help in getting the answer. Many times gynecomastia goes off on its own, however, there are cases when it takes time to go off or continues and persists. In such cases, opting for medication may help. Further, a surgery may also be required to get rid of this condition. Whatever the case be, there is a cure for this problem and so it is not such a serious worry at all. It is quite a common problem.
Few of the common symptoms of gynecomastia include:
- Enlargement of the male breast
- Tenderness in the breast gland
- Swelling of the breast gland tissue
- Pain in the breasts
- Nipple discharge from anyone or from both the breasts
- A growth in the diameter and thickness of areola
- Asymmetrical chest tissue
Males who show the signs and symptoms of gynecomastia generally get stressed up and feel anxious thinking that it may be due to some possibility of getting affected by a breast cancer.
It is recommended that you see your doctor if you feel any of the above symptoms affecting your body. The timely cure is available. There are medications that may help you in getting rid of these symptoms. So, book an appointment and consult it at your convenience.
There are several reasons and causes as to how and why gynecomastia occurs. Few of them are listed below:
- Hormonal imbalance in the body
- Natural changes in the hormone
- Increase in the production level of estrogen
- The decrease in the production level of androgen
- Decrease in the level of testosterone hormone as compared to the level of estrogen
- The level of estrogen can be decreased due to certain conditions that block testosterone
- Some type of infection in the testes
- Approximately 10 to 25% of the reported cases suffering from gynecomastia are caused by the use of drugs.
- Few health issues or medical complications found in men like the kidney failure or some kind liver disease can also cause the growth of male breasts abnormally.
- There are many medications that are reported to be causing gynecomastia, especially few medications used for the treatments of prostate cancer, ulcer medications, HIV, chemotherapy, certain antibiotics, and many more.
Estrogen generally acts as the growth hormone that increases the growth of the male breast glands, thus increasing or enlarging its size. The causes mentioned above are few of the reasons for the occurrence of gynecomastia. Moreover, these reasons may also trigger the problem even further. In most of the cases, these are caused due to certain conditions that increase the level of estrogen in your body. Gynecomastia is generally associated with the pubertal changes in an individual.
Surgical removal of the excess breast tissue may be required in order to remove the extra tissues in cases of chronic or severe gynecomastia. Different approaches are then applied for the surgical treatment to take place for gynecomastia. Few names for the approaches followed for surgical process includes:
- Subcutaneous mastectomy
- Liposuction-assisted mastectomy
- Laser-assisted liposuction
- Laser-lipolysis without liposuction
The treatment and diagnosis of gynecomastia are generally based on the symptoms that an individual show. The signs of complaints are diagnosed and accordingly, the treatment plans are suggested. Diagnosis is done based on the medical history of the patient and the physical examination reports that were prescribed by the doctor. Few laboratory investigations may also be recommended so as to detect the actual cause of the symptom.
The treatment of gynecomastia after having ignored such that it had persisted in your body for a period of 2 years or above is almost very difficult and may prove ineffective. However, there are few medications available that have been found to be very effective in curing or treating such prolonged gynecomastia complains. Otherwise, the only option left with him is a surgery. The excess tissue can be removed from that part through a surgery, called the surgical removal.
Those cases of gynecomastia that have occurred during the adolescence period are considered as moderate and mild, and their treatment involves getting an experts advice and consultation on the living habits, daily diet, exercises and walks, and so on. In contrast to this, if the case of gynecomastia gets severe then medical treatments become essential and may also require a surgical treatment process and intervention. Both the treatment processes, i.e., the medications or the surgery, have been found to treat this problem of gynecomastia successfully.
Generally, doctors prescribe certain tests and examinations which may include blood tests or imaging studies so as to identify the possible causes of gynecomastia. In certain rare cases, however, mammography may also be prescribed. Generally, mammograms are prescribed if the doctor finds any indication or suspect a male breast cancer complication.
Risks & Control Measures:
There exist few physical complications that are associated with the problem of gynecomastia, especially the fact that it may cause certain emotional or psychological problems and concerns that may be caused due to an abnormal appearance. It may cause a psychological distress to the affected individual. Therefore, prevention is the best possible attempt we can take to stay away from getting trapped in this imbalance. For this, there are certainly few factors that may be considered and taken care of so as to control and reduce the risk of gynecomastia. Few of the control measures that be taken to control this risk are:
- Never accept or consume any type of illegal drugs like steroids, heroin, marijuana, etc.
- Stay away from consuming excess alcohol.
- Always review the prescribed medications. For example – if you get to know that the medicine that you are consuming is told to cause gynecomastia, then don’t hesitate to ask your doctor for its alternative options.
Gynecomastia is generally not found to cause any harm to the body. It does not cause any physical harm. However, in very few cases it may be an indication of the underlying serious complication like testicular cancer. It is really very important to prevent yourself from attracting any serious medical concern that may also lead to some causes of gynecomastia.
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