What Causes Man Boobs: Gynecomastia Diagnosis,Symptoms and Treatments

Man boobs is a problem shared by many and although most of the time the condition is harmless it can still cause a lot of discomfort and humiliation.

The latter being more damaging to the self-image of boys and men. But what causes man boobs exactly?

There are three known stages in a man’s life where man boobs can surface – in infancy, in adolescence, and in the latter years (50-85 years of age).

Male breast enlargement is caused by two things, the first is obesity, and the other one is gynecomastia.

What causes man boobs

Gynecomastia is a condition that stems from hormonal imbalances. Hormonal imbalances are sometimes influence by the normal but short-term fluctuations of hormones in the body.

Gynecomastia occurs when there is excessive estrogen (female hormone) or there is a lack of testosterone (male hormone) in the body.

In most cases this imbalance will correct itself in a matter of months or up to two years.

Doctors often do not recommend interventions if the case is not life threatening. They do however put a patient under observation.

In the request of some sufferers of gynecomastia, medication can be an option or for some, even surgery.

Sometimes gynecomastia is caused by other medical conditions that is pushing up or pulling down the estrogen or testosterone levels in the body.

This is often the case in the late manifestation of the condition.

Many older men have gynecomastia because of underlying health issues such as liver cancer, lung cancer, overactive thyroid, cancer of the pituitary gland, cancer of the testicles, cancer of the adrenal glands, cirrhosis of the liver, and more.


Men who are under certain kinds of medication can also be exposed to the risk of gynecomastia.

The use of steroids like prednisone, ulcer medications like cimetidine, and epilepsy drugs such as dilantin can all contribute to condition.

Heart medication like digitalis, cancer medication, anti-depressants, and antiandrogen drugs like cyprotene and flutamide can also cause gynecomastia.

The obesity and man boobs connection

There are instances however that the cause of the enlargement of the breast of males is not biological in nature.

Sometimes man boobs are just caused by the proportional increase of fat deposits in the body.

Obese men have the tendency to develop man boobs as fats are deposited in their chest area.

More often than not this is not a localized increase of fat build up but happens throughout the body due to poor choices of food, excessive intake of food, and lack of exercise.

These three factors can easily stop the growth of muscles and encourage the unchecked increase of fat deposits resulting to the enlargement of a man’s breast.

In this case a lifestyle change is often the way out from the problem. Eating the right kind of food, at the right amount, coupled with regular exercise can address the man boob problem in a matter of months.

Gynecomastia symptoms

Many men who develop swelling breast often ask themselves wonder if they have gynecomastia.

The symptoms of gynecomastia are easy to spot.

First there is the breast enlargement. This swelling is initially firm or rubbery to touch. A breast bud can also be observed with either one of the nipples. The “bud” can be in the size of a quarter or a nickel.

The breast bud symptom however is mostly common in adolescent boys. Breast buds can also be observed in the early onset of gynecomastia in infants.

The firm consistency of the breast can often lead to tenderness in the latter stage of the condition.

Gynecomastia diagnosis

Now when you know what causes man boobs you should be diagnosed by the doctor before starting any treatment.

Doctors often rule in gynecomastia when during palpation, he can observe that there is tenderness/firmness in the breast and that there is a mobile, disc-like clump of tissues in either one or two of the breast/s.

Doctors however check for body mass index too to rule out obesity and fix on gynecomastia as the sole cause for the increased breast mass.

Family history is also investigated by doctors. 58% of the cases of gynecomastia are hereditary.

This is why it is an integral part of the diagnostic process. Aside from that, a rundown of medication history can also be done by medical professionals to better assess the possible cause of gynecomastia.

In cases where the palpable masses in the enlarged breast or breasts are unilateral, hard and is positioned peripheral to the nipple this can be caused by another more serious health issue.

Especially when these are observed with nipple discharges, skin changes in the breast area, or lymphadenopathy. These observations often mean one thing – breast cancer.

Treatment of man boobs caused by gynecomastia

Although there are several ways to treat gynecomastia it is important to note first and foremost that this condition is sometimes caused by the natural fluctuations of hormones in the body.

Most doctors would choose not to intervene if this is the case. In newborns gynecomastia is left alone, even expected as this is caused by estrogen from the mother.

Among teenagers, the case is often the same. Man boobs in the 10-16 years of age range are often caused by the hormonal changes in the body.

This is a natural part of growing up.

Gynecomastia in this stage is fairly common as more than half (50-60%) of the boys at this age have the condition.

Doctors would recommend for boys at this age to undergo a periodic re-evaluation set every 3-6 months. When gynecomastia will not go away on its own then treatment can be considered.

In older men however, gynecomastia prevalence  is quite high which is seen to be at the 70% – 80% level.

Most of the time the causes of gynecomastia at this stage is quite different and may require some sufferers to give up some medication or substitute it for another if these are causing the swelling of the breast.

However, when gynecomastia is result of a more serious medical condition, that underlying cause of gynecomastia is addressed first.

Medication for gynecomastia

The medications used for gynecomastia are those that are used to treat breast cancer.

Tamoxifen (Soltamox) and ralixifene (Evista) are often prescribed by doctors to men with the condition.

It is important to note however that even if these drugs are FDA approved, these are not specifically approved by the same to treat gynecomastia.

You should be aware that other alternative medicines exist in form of gynecomastia pills and creams.

Those treatments are being successfully used by many men.

The most popular gyno pills are Gynexin and Gynectrol, both receiving very positive feedback.

As for gyno creams most gynecomastia sufferers reach for Gynexol.