Top 5 Overlooked Causes Of Gynecomastia And Symptoms You Shouldn’t Avoid
You look at a man and a woman out in public, and it’s easy to differentiate between the two. Among the many differences among them is that the breasts of a woman are far larger and more prominent. Men’s chests, on the other hand, are flat.
Or at least, they’re supposed to be flat. With male gynecomastia, that’s not the case at all.
This medical condition results in enlarged breasts in men, and that’s always a cause of public scorn, cruel jokes, depression and anxiety, embarrassment, and other forms of social difficulties.
It can drive a man to a rather serious lack of self-esteem, which can affect their psyche, their work, and their social life.
What is Gynecomastia?
The question “what is gynecomastia” is very common. Technically speaking, gynecomastia is a hormonal problem. The man experiences a hormonal imbalance between his estrogen and testosterone levels, and the imbalance causes the feminine swelling of the breasts.
But there’s also the condition of swollen breasts in men that are caused by fat deposits. The large amounts of fat in the breasts make the breasts grow and look bigger.
Medical science calls this condition pseudo-gynecomastia.
In many circles of society, it doesn’t really matter whether it’s real gynecomastia or pseudo-gynecomastia. They just both refer to the swelling of the man’s breasts.
Regardless of what really causes it, the condition is casually referred to by the term “man boobs”. That’s not even the most hurtful or insulting term for the problem. Others insist on calling it bitch tits.
What Causes Man Boobs?
There are numerous possible causes of gynecomastia, and that’s just the cases that involve hormonal imbalance.
These possible causes trigger in the reduced level of testosterone compared to the current levels of estrogen in the man.
The cause may also block the effects of even normal levels of testosterone. In some cases, the amount of testosterone may be normal but the estrogen levels may be abnormally high.
You have to understand that these hormones, testosterone, and estrogen, control the development and maintenance of gender traits.
Testosterone is the main hormone for male characteristics, and it’s responsible for such stereotypical male features such as body and facial hair, more prominent muscles, and a deeper voice.
For female characteristics such as the development of more prominent breasts, the estrogen is responsible.
Men do have both testosterone and estrogen in their system. It’s just that in men, most of the time the testosterone level is far greater than the relatively tiny amount of estrogen present.
But when this balance is disturbed, gynecomastia is a very common result.
1. Natural Hormone Changes:
There are certain times in a man’s life when this delicate hormonal balance will shift, and thus cause the enlargement of their breasts.
- For some, it starts right after birth. More than 50% of male babies are born with swollen breasts simply because their mother’s estrogen is still in their system.
But this is a very temporary problem. Usually, the breasts become smaller for the male babies after about 2 to 3 weeks after the birth.
- The next natural change is during puberty, and gynecomastia is very common at this stage of a man’s life. The boy is turning into a man, and the hormonal balance may shift to facilitate his physical development.
He’s become taller much more quickly, his voice changes and cracks until it settles into a deeper voice, and hair grows in various parts of the body.
The hormonal surges during this stage are responsible for pimples, as well for the enlarged breasts.But even without any sort of treatment, the male breasts will usually return to their normal size naturally.
It’s just that it will take a longer time to do so. It can take 6 months, or even 2 years before the swollen breasts reduce in size.
- As the man grows older, at some point their testosterone production goes down a little each year.
This reduction in testosterone production is very gradual, but eventually, it will come to a point when the amount of testosterone is just isn’t enough to properly balance with the estrogen levels.
That’s why about 25% of men over 50 years old can have male gynecomastia. Some people may also refer to this condition as male menopause.
2. Medicinal Side Effects:
In some cases, the enlargement of the male breasts is a direct result of some medications that affect the hormones. These medications may include:
- Heart medications, such as calcium channel blockers and digoxin
- Chemotherapy for cancer
- Ulcer medications like cimetidine
- Aids medications, especially Efavirenz and the treatment regimen known as HAART (highly active antiretroviral therapy)
- Anti-androgen treatments for prostate cancer, prostate enlargement, and other conditions, which can include spironolactone, finasteride, and flutamide
- Various androgens and anabolic steroids
- Anti-anxiety medicine like diazepam
- Tricyclic antidepressants
- Even some antibiotics
3. Alcohol and Street Drugs:
These are also possible causes of gynecomastia. These may include hard liquor, marijuana, heroin, amphetamines, and methadone.
4. Symptoms of a Medical Condition:
You may also have some sort of medical condition that causes gynecomastia as one of its causes.
This is especially prevalent among overweight men.
This is especially true when the affects the pituitary gland, the adrenal glands, and the testes. The tumors can cause the production of hormones that affect the testosterone-estrogen balance.
3. Kidney Failure:
Gynecomastia is a condition seen in 50% of the patients that receive regular hemodialysis. That’s because the treatment and the medical condition can cause hormonal changes.
These and other conditions that affect how your body produces testosterone can result in swollen male breasts. These conditions can include pituitary insufficiency and Klinefelter syndrome.
5. Cirrhosis and Liver Failure:
Hormonal fluctuations can result from the liver condition, as well as from the treatment to the condition.
6. Starvation and Malnutrition:
When your body doesn’t get the nutrients it needs, your testosterone levels will drop while your estrogen levels will remain constant.
5. Plant Oils and Other Herbal Items:
Some plant oils can have a slight effect on your estrogen levels, which may cause a sort of hormonal imbalance. These products may include lavender and tea tree.
If you also include pseudo-gynecomastia as a related problem, then a possible cause of the enlarged breasts is obesity and being overweight. Your body converts the calories you consume and don’t use up into fat, and they may be deposited to your chest area.
What Are the Gynecomastia Symptoms?
The symptoms of gynecomastia may include swollen breast gland tissues, and the breasts may also be very tender. But usually, it’s just that the breasts are bigger and it may only be for one breast.
You may want to go see a doctor if the symptoms of gynecomastia include pain, along with the swelling and the tenderness of the breasts. It’s also imperative to see the doctor if there’s nipple discharge from one or both breasts.
Do I have gynecomastia?
That’s a very common question especially if you want to know if it’s caused by fatty deposits or hormonal imbalance.
You’re more like to suffer from the condition if you’re an adolescent or an older man past middle age, or you’re using androgens and steroids for athletics and muscle-building.
The problem is also a very distinct possibility if you’ve been diagnosed with any of the diseases that can cause gynecomastia.
To really determine the problem, you need to see a doctor. The doctor can ask about any medications you’re taking and will inquire about various medical conditions that run in your family.
Then the doctor will closely examine your breast tissue, your abdomen, and your genitals.
To determine the specific cause of your gynecomastia, the doctor may also run tests such as mammograms and blood tests. After seeing the results of these tests, the doctor may then run additional tests.
These may include tissue biopsies, testicular ultrasound tests, MRI scans, and CT scans.
Your doctor may also want to make sure that the enlargement of your breasts is really caused by a hormonal imbalance. It’s not just fatty deposits in the breast which can cause large male breasts.
This condition can also be the result of a breast abscess or mastitis, which is an infection of the breast tissue.
It is even possible that your gynecomastia symptoms are caused by breast cancer, even though that’s not very common for men. But it is also very possible, especially if only one breast is larger than usual.
Breast cancer must be suspected if there’s a hard nodule on the male breast.
So does gynecomastia go away? Most of the time, the problem does go away on its own. But that’s only if it’s a normal growth stage such as adolescence.
Usually, for teens whose enlarged breasts aren’t caused by medication or an underlying medical condition, the problem goes away within 2 years.
The doctor can just require a regular reevaluation of the problem every 3 to 6 months to see if there’s any natural improvement on its own.
If it’s a side effect of a medication you’re taking, your doctor may stop the medication or replace what you’re taking with something else.
If what causes man boobs for you are actually the anabolic steroids, controlled drugs, or too much alcohol you’re taking, you need to stop.
If the problem is a symptom of an underlying health condition, then treating the condition can also eliminate the problem.
In these cases, does gynecomastia go away when you fix the cause? Usually, it does go away soon afterward.
What if it’s pseudo-gynecomastia? If that’s the case, you may need to go on a workout and diet regimen for weight loss, although you won’t be able to force your body to burn off the fat in your breasts first.
If you also have a large waistline, the fat deposits there may be the first to go.
There may be some male breast reduction medications that can target fatty deposits. However, many of these products may not work at all and they may even come with side effects.
So you need to be very careful about which OTC products you will take for your man boobs. You may even add to your bitch tits problem with additional side effects.
Liposuction is also another option when the enlarged breasts are caused by fat deposits. This sort of surgery will get rid of the fat deposits.
But if you don’t fix your exercise and diet situation, you may just get back these fat deposits after a while.
If the problem is with the breast tissue and not with fatty deposits, the doctor may use some medicines for the problem.
These medications may include the use of breast cancer medicines for off-label use. They’re not really meant to be used this way.
Another option in this particular situation is a mastectomy. This procedure removes the breast gland tissue. The recovery time can be shortened if the surgeon takes care to use on very small incisions.
Prevention and Coping with Man Boobs:
There are some ways for you to minimize your chances of getting enlarged breasts. You may want to have a sensible workout and diet plan, to keep the fat deposits away.
To maintain your hormonal balance, you need to say no to illegal drugs, and this also means you need to stay away from performance-enhancing drugs like anabolic steroids.
And ask if any medication you’re told by your doctor to take is likely to cause enlarged breasts or hormonal imbalances. If the medication is known to cause gynecomastia, ask if there are better alternatives the medicine.
Meanwhile, when you’re already suffering, you need to learn how to cope with the problem of man boobs. Get some counseling. Ask for support from close family members and true friends. And reach out to others who also have male gynecomastia. The knowledge you’re not alone can help too.