Gynecomastia is a condition where the breast tissues of a male get enlarged due to an imbalance of levels of testosterone and estrogen hormones. One or both of the breasts can be affected by Gynecomastia. The condition is not a serious issue, and in most cases, it relieves on its own. However, the main problem one faces is embarrassment.
There are also cases where one may feel pain in their breasts. If the condition persists, one may opt-in for surgery.
What are the causes of Gynecomastia?
Gynecomastia is brought on by a drop in testosterone levels, i.e., when the testosterone level falls compared to estrogen.
The following are some factors that can cause this hormone balance.
Naturally Occurring Hormonal Changes
Testosterone and estrogen hormones regulate both men’s and women’s sex characteristics. Characteristics like muscle mass and body hairs, which are male traits, are controlled by testosterone. Estrogen regulates feminine characteristics, particularly breast development.
Contrary to popular belief, men can also generate estrogen, albeit often in much fewer amounts. As a result, gynecomastia can be brought on by male estrogen levels that are excessive or out of whack with testosterone levels.
Gynecomastia in infants: Because of their mother’s estrogen impact, more than half of male children are born with larger breasts. After giving birth, the enlarged breast tissue often fades away in two to three weeks.
During adolescence: It is rather typical for hormonal changes brought on by puberty to induce gynecomastia. The enlarged breast tissue will typically go away on its own in six months to two years.
Adult gynecomastia: Between 24% and 65% of men between the ages of 50 and 80 are believed to be affected. The majority of affected men, however, have no symptoms.
Gynecomastia due to medications
The following medications disturb testosterone production and hence can lead to Gynecomastia.
– Anti-androgen drugs that are used as a treatment for enlarged prostate, prostate cancer, etc., can drop the levels of testosterone and hence can lead to Gynecomastia
– ADHD and anti-anxiety drugs
– Anabolic steroids
Gynecomastia due to an underlying health condition
Hypogonadism: Gynecomastia can be related to conditions that reduce testosterone production, such as Klinefelter syndrome or pituitary insufficiency.
Aging: Gynecomastia can be brought on by aging hormone changes, especially in overweight men.
Tumors: Some tumors, like those affecting the testicles, adrenal glands, or pituitary glands, can release hormones that change the balance of male and female hormones.
Hyperthyroidism: The thyroid gland overproduces the hormone thyroxine in this disease.
Renal failure: Gynecomastia is a side effect of dialysis that affects about 50% of patients because of hormonal abnormalities.
Liver failure and cirrhosis: Problems in the liver, like liver cirrhosis, cause disturbance in hormonal levels and hence can lead to gynecomastia.
Symptoms of gynecomastia
Gynecomastia in adult males is typically asymptomatic. The warning signs and symptoms of gynecomastia include:
– Pain in breasts, especially in adolescents
– Enlarged breast tissue
– Breast sensitivity
– Sensitivity in the nipples when touching against clothing
Method of diagnosis
In addition to performing a physical exam and reviewing the medical and family history, the healthcare professional will evaluate the symptoms. It is also advised to get a blood test to measure hormone levels.
Gynecomastia and breast cancer both result in breast lumps. Thus the doctor might order:
– Breast ultrasound: In order to see in-depth pictures of the underlying reason for breast growth.
– Mammogram: To check for odd growths or breast tissue alterations.
Method of treatment
Some people may not require or prefer gynecomastia therapy. It may be necessary to quit using the drug or switch to a different one if a prescription or other substance is causing breasts to swell. Swelling should go away with disease treatment if it were caused due to the disease.
Some male patients elect to get breast reduction surgery. A plastic surgeon uses this surgery to reduce breast size by removing breast tissue.