Gynecomastia: An Introduction to the ‘Man Boobs’ Phenomenon

gynecomastia

Story at-a-glance -

  • Gynecomastia is a condition that affects boys, wherein their breast tissue becomes swollen due to an imbalance in the testosterone and estrogen in the body
  • Gynecomastia is becoming widespread — 57 percent of elderly men and 36 percent of young males in the U.S. have this condition. The U.S. FDA also notes that at least 200,000 to 3 million cases of gynecomastia are reported per year
  • In fact, at least 10 to 20 percent of gynecomastia cases occur because of taking pharmaceutical drugs

One unique trait that women possess is their inherent ability to nourish or feed their offspring via lactation — a quality that men cannot easily replicate. But did you know that men can actually lactate too? Since both men and women possess mammary glands, the organ that produces milk, this is a very rare but possible ability.

While men’s mammary glands do not mature to the level that can easily induce lactation, if the right hormones are introduced, then lactation can be a possibility.1 Hormones obviously play a significant role in the health of both genders. Hence, if an imbalance occurs, then certain issues may start to manifest — and gynecomastia is one example.

The Basics About Gynecomastia

Gynecomastia is a condition that affects boys, wherein their breast tissue becomes swollen due to an imbalance in the testosterone and estrogen in their body. These two hormones control, develop and maintain the sex characteristics of a person, and both men and women have these hormones in their body, albeit in differing levels.2

In men, testosterone is usually the dominant hormone and controls traits like muscle mass and appearance of body hair. However, if testosterone dips too low and the balance tips in favor of estrogen, then female traits can arise — such as the growth of breasts.

Gynecomastia is a common condition among different age groups. According to a 2009 study in Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 60 to 90 percent of neonates and 50 to 60 percent of teens have asymptomatic gynecomastia. Meanwhile, 70 percent of males ages 50 to 69 years old have this condition.3

Different aged male groups may experience gynecomastia. In infants, the enlarged breasts occur because of exposure to the mother’s estrogen, but usually go away a few weeks after birth. In pubescent males, this is also common and goes away within six months to two years.4

What Are the Symptoms and Triggers of This Condition?

Having a lump of fatty tissue under the nipple is the first sign of gynecomastia, and it may come with breast sensitivity and tenderness. The areola may also grow in diameter. However, there’s rarely any pain with this condition.5 Gynecomastia may affect only one breast or both. In some cases, the feminization (or size) may be uneven.

Aside from hormones, there are certain medications and lifestyle habits that may predispose you to this condition. One example is using certain medications such as steroids or certain antibiotics or chemotherapy drugs, to name a few. In fact, at least 10 to 20 percent of gynecomastia cases occur because of taking pharmaceuticals.6

Meanwhile, use of illegal drugs and excessive alcohol use have also been linked to breast swelling. Certain herbal remedies like lavender oil and tea tree oil used in skin care products may also add to this condition.

What Can You Do If Gynecomastia Manifests?

Gynecomastia can be a great source of embarrassment, prompting men to become socially withdrawn and to lose interest in romantic relationships. The good news is that gynecomastia can be addressed — there are ways to prevent it and minimize its appearance. Read these pages to educate yourself about gynecomastia, and find out what you can do about it today.

MORE ABOUT GYNECOMASTIA

Gynecomastia: Introduction

What Is Gynecomastia?

Gynecomastia Symptoms

Gynecomastia Causes

Gynecomastia Types

Gynecomastia Treatment

Gynecomastia Surgery

Gynecomastia Diet

Gynecomastia Prevention

Gynecomastia FAQ



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