Things You Ought To Know About Gynecomastia

by Nick Swanson

Gynecomastia
Gynecomastia is the condition that can occur when there is swelling of the breast tissue, occurring only in males of any age. This is usually a response because of hormone imbalances and can usually happen to anyone.

This can occur in any male of any age, even newborns in some rare cases. The swelling of the breast tissue is not a life threatening issue, but it can be extremely straining on the individual dealing with the problem. This issue can cause a major problem when it comes to mental health.

In this guide, we’ll be talking about the specifics and everything you need to know when it comes to the causes, types, and diagnosis of gynecomastia[1]. We hope to help clear the fog and stigma that comes along with this condition as well.

Just like many visible changes due to conditions and shifts in health, the mental strain is immense, especially due to uneducated individuals. Many don’t know anything about this condition and will continue to be harsh towards the patient suffering from this condition.

We’re here to show you the facts and everything you could possibly need to know if you or someone you know is dealing with Gynecomastia. It’s not something that has to ruin your life, and there is hope for a better future, sooner than you might expect.

While Gynecomastia isn’t usually a serious problem, it’s a condition that needs to be surrounded by support, encouragement, and a healthy mental balance to be able to overcome the issues that come along with this health condition.


Causes: Natural Changes

Like we mentioned before, gynecomastia can be triggered by one main reason: hormones.

Gynecomastia is caused not only from hormones but by a decrease in the natural testosterone levels males have in their body. There are two hormones, estrogen and testosterone. Testosterone is more abundant in males while estrogen is more abundant in females.

When there is a sudden decrease of testosterone in a male, it can cause many unbalances and this specific condition. This decrease usually occurs because of specific conditions that will reduce the effects of testosterone or even block it all together.

The causes below are due to natural changes in hormones:


Infants and Gynecomastia

It is actually very common for infants that are male to deal with this condition. But when this occurs in infants it will almost always go away in time. The main reason this occurs is actually because of the mother.

When a mother carries a child in her womb, her estrogen and everything she eats and produces in her body is also a part of the child as well. Because of this, this means that her estrogen hormones are a part of the child. This can cause enlargement of the breast in many cases of male infants, but it quickly goes away after birth.

Gynecomastia Info


Puberty and Gynecomastia

Puberty and gynecomastia is also extremely common[2] as well, due to all the chaos of the hormones changing. For many young males, when their hormones change during puberty, it won’t last for a long period of time.

Puberty can cause gynecomastia to occur anywhere from 6 months to even up to 2 years while puberty is taking place. But shortly after puberty has stopped, the breast tissue swelling will go away as well.


Men and Gynecomastia

There is one more period of time that gynecomastia commonly peaks again. This usually occurs at a much older age in men, typically around their late 50s and 60s. While this happens to be one of the least likely times for this condition to occur, it still is possible.

According to recent studies, they’ve been showing that 1 in 4 men deal with gynecomastia at this age. So it might be a bit more common than it might seem.

Causes: Medications

There are a number of medications that can create this condition over time, below we’ve listed them so you can see exactly what they are and you can know more of what to expect if you’re worried about this happening.

  • Any drug that is administered to treat prostate cancer, enlargement, or any other conditions that deal with the prostate. They typically include estrogen.
  • Steroids of any kind, including androgens
  • Any kind of AIDS or HIV treatment program, it is a risk that should be taken if advised by your doctor, but this can be a side effect.
  • Any kind of anxiety medication such as Valium
  • Antidepressants
  • Antibiotics
  • Any kind of common ulcer medication
  • Chemotherapy
  • Most heart related medications

These medications are usually administered by your doctor for a very specific purpose, in most cases, they need to be taken due to the condition you’re fighting. Which is why you should not avoid using these medications if they are needed.

Most of these on this list serves a very specific purpose that could be life threatening if you refrain from using them. Sometimes dealing with the side effects of these medications can be very difficult, especially when they change your physical appearance.

The fact that these medications will most likely cause gynecomastia, you have to really push that aside and do what’s best for you to be able to heal and move forward with your health.

Causes: Drugs and Substance Abuse

There are a few select drugs and substances that can cause more estrogen levels to increase, blocking out the testosterone levels you would normally have, we’ve included them below:

  • Marijuana
  • Any kind of Alcohol
  • Heroin
  • Medication mentioned above
  • Methadone

Causes: Other Conditions

Very different from natural causes that we’ve reviewed above, this section will hit on various diseases and previous health conditions that can occur and have side effects that include gynecomastia.

  • Any health condition that will change our hormone levels in treatment, such as Klinefelter’s syndrome.
  • Tumors are a big cause that can alter hormone levels, causing gynecomastia to occur.
  • Kidney or liver failure.
  • Any issue with your thyroid
  • Normal aging and being overweight
  • Starvation can also cause gynecomastia

What are the Symptoms Of Gynecomastia?

Symptoms Of Gynecomastia
The symptoms of gynecomastia are very straight forward and they can be hard to miss. Like we mentioned before, this problem is not a life threatening condition, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore the oncoming signs of gynecomastia because there is no threat.

We’ve listed the two most common symptoms of gynecomastia[3] below, this does not include the strain on mental health since we will get into that a bit later on in more specifics. These symptoms pertain just to the physical changes one could potentially go through.

Two Common Symptoms:

  • Many individuals that experience the oncoming stages of gynecomastia include swollen breast glands and the surrounding tissues. Many describe this as being very painful, even in some extreme cases, making it hard to wear shirts because of the friction causing pain on their skin.
  • Similar to the symptom above, there is also breast tenderness that will be experienced. This will happen to anyone who develops this condition, no matter their age.

These two symptoms might seem very straightforward, but because this condition can occur in puberty in many cases that are common, it can be very hard to tell whether or not this is just growing pain or something more serious like gynecomastia.

If this does occur for the individual when they are going through puberty and they feel as though something is wrong, we would suggest seeing your primary care doctor for help moving forward.


When You Should Visit Your Doctor?

Gynecomastia Condition
No matter the age, there are additional and more serious signs that can occur when developing the gynecomastia condition. These additional symptoms should encourage you to head to your doctor as fast as possible.

You shouldn’t put your health on hold, you shouldn’t be afraid to get yourself checked if you feel like there would be a risk of developing this condition. It’s not something to be ashamed of whatsoever.

Below we’ve included these additional symptoms so you can be aware of the progression of this condition and when you should visit your doctor:

Visit Your Doctor When:

  • There is noticeable swelling in the breast tissue area, to the point that it’s noticeable even when you haven’t experienced any body weight gain.
  • There is intense pain around the chest and breast tissue area, causing it hard to even wear normal clothing you wouldn’t typically have a problem wearing.
  • There is tenderness around the breast area, in some rare cases, bruising might occur.
  • The enlargement of one breast and not the other, this can be a clear sign that something is off.
  • Nipple discharge occurs in both or just one breast. If this happens you need to be sure to visit your doctor as soon as possible.

No matter what health conditions you have faced, it can be daunting to go to a doctors office, but you need to take the time to push yourself and just visit the doctor, in turn putting your health first, just like it should always be.

Especially when a condition like this occurs, it can be very damaging to self esteem which can prevent men who suffer from this condition to visit the doctors because of anxiety or stress. It’s normal to feel self conscious with a condition like this, it can put you out of your element and make you paranoid, but it doesn’t have to be like that.

By taking the steps forward to understand the condition, you’re already on the right path. This should make the process much easier because you’ll have a better understanding of the condition and what you or someone you care about is going through.

It’s just very important to know that gynecomastia does not have to be a part of your life forever. Below we’ll be going into more detail of what can be done, but keep this in mind while we move forward, there is hope for a positive change.


What Could be the Diagnosis for Gynecomastia?

Diagnosis for Gynecomastia
It is actually fairly easy to diagnose if a man has gynecomastia. Typically a blood test will take place to confirm the hormone imbalance, but in many cases, it is confirmed by a doctor just viewing the patient.

Gynecomastia is a very unique condition that makes it very obvious as to what the problem is. It’s very easy to tell if someone has this condition, not only is it physically noticeable, but the symptoms are unlike anything else.

The breast soreness does not often occur in other conditions, and given the fact that it occurs when you develop gynecomastia, it’s fairly easy to tell right away what exactly the problem is. That’s one positive factor that comes into play when discussing this condition, it does not normally get diagnosed and it can easily be treated in many cases.


What are the Treatment Of Gynecomastia?

While gynecomastia can be treated almost all the time, it’s still a matter of figuring out what works the best with your body and your unique hormones. It can sometimes be hard to tell what will work for one person and what will work for the next person, even if they’re dealing with the same exact condition.

Which is why it can be emotionally draining to deal with this condition, because although it can be diagnosed quickly, that doesn’t mean you won’t be dealing with trial and error through medications and treatment plans to see what will work for you.

In most cases doctors will create a plan based on your blood work and the severity of the problem, typically putting you on a testosterone supplement and you will notice changes over the next few months. But you can also make sure that you practice a lifestyle that’s healthy and balanced to prevent future problems or being tied to a medication.


What are the Complications Of Gynecomastia?

There aren’t many known complications that individuals face when dealing with gynecomastia, but one of the biggest problems revolve around the mental and emotional health of these individuals.

When going through drastic physical changes that seem out of your control, it can instantly cause anxiety and self esteem issues in day to day life. This kind of weight on the individual’s shoulders can prevent them from doing what they love and even more so with simple activities.

The psychological aspect of this condition plays a very large role in how the individuals deal with it[4]. There is a rampant bullying problem that affects anyone of any age, no matter where they are in the world.

Granted it does take time to accept changes like this in an individual’s life, but with how society has portrayed masculinity, it will affect individuals mentally in a very toxic and negative way.

Below we’ll be including some helpful ways to deal with the stigma of gynecomastia that many men in the community go through on a daily basis:


Clothing

Clothing
Many individuals with the gynecomastia condition cope with the stress of going out in public by disguising their chest with clothing. Many individuals opt to wear a sports bra-like tank top that can help flatten the chest, while some will just wear baggier clothing to hide the large chest.

Many people also choose to wear darker colors for a more slimming effect. While this solution is not a permanent one, it can help you cope with the issue right now until you find a more lasting solution through treatment or surgery to help you.


Social Situations

Men will often avoid social situations altogether if they are currently dealing with gynecomastia. While this solution should not be used long term because it’s not healthy, it can help relieve some stress and anxiety if you’re always out in public.

Just like the clothing we mentioned above, this is not a way to fix the condition, but this solution can be used for a short amount of time until you find out a different option that works for you and your health, which should always be first.


Natural Healing

A great coping mechanism can be natural healing, while it won’t minimize the breast tissue, it will overall help you find that inner balance you need to relax your mental state, to be able to move forward towards more permanent prevention methods and treatments.

Many men start taking herbal supplements and try breathing exercises to be able to relax and let go of some of the stress they may be experiencing throughout this condition.


Exercise

While exercise can’t decrease the amount of tissue in the breast area, it can help tone the muscle around it so it’s not as prominent. While you need to make sure that you don’t push yourself beyond what you are comfortable with, you might find that exercise is a great mental release as well.

While everyone should be maintaining a healthy diet and fitness routine[5], these aspects of your lifestyle and affect how your body feels and looks. So keep this in mind while moving forward within the condition, there are always more treatment options to explore.


What are the Prevention of Gynecomastia?

Prevention Of Gynecomastia
While there is no way to fully prevent this in all cases, there are certain ways to greatly reduce your chances of developing this condition. Making sure you stay active and exercise while maintaining a healthy diet is always important, and it’s just as crucial when trying to prevent health conditions like Gynecomastia.

There have been ties to excess alcohol consumption being a cause of hormonal imbalance, so by avoiding excess alcohol consumption you’d be helping ensure that your body doesn’t struggle even more when trying to correct hormonal levels.

For those who happen to be medical marijuana patients, it is also worth noting that marijuana can increase estrogen levels in men. It is important to maintain a healthy balance in your use if possible, depending on the health issues you use it for, you should always stay conscious and use it in moderation.

For more serious cases, another option for preventing and sometimes even treating gynecomastia is Radiotherapy, known to be effective in reducing the effects and risk of this condition. Studies and tests have shown that radiotherapy can sometimes improve or even resolve this condition and help manage those that experience intense pain.


Conclusion

The hormone imbalance known as Gynecomastia can greatly affect individuals who deal with this condition on a daily basis. This kind of condition shouldn’t be ignored out of shame or embarrassment.

This condition has been misrepresented so many times, so many individuals assume they know someone’s life, and when they see a male with a larger chest, for some reason it can trigger foul remarks and negativity in every capacity.

We want to make sure this kind of behavior no longer occurs, communities should know the facts when it comes to gynecomastia.

When you take the steps forward to educate and learn about the condition, you will have the support of knowledge with you. This condition can change an individual’s life, simply from the emotional side of things, which is why it’s key to remember that facts are facts and spreading misconceptions of health conditions should stop.

Not only is misinformation and assuming harmful to those who deal with serious health conditions that they didn’t ask for, but it can continue to spread a toxic message to others as well.

Gynecomastia is fairly common and it can affect anyone at any point in their life, it isn’t the individuals fault in any capacity that this happens in their life. But hopefully, with the spreading of facts and correct information, people will realize that they shouldn’t ever make a joke out of something that is potentially putting someone’s life on hold.

Read More: Aspermia – The Key Things You Need to Know

Facts to keep in mind about gynecomastia:

  • There are ways to prevent gynecomastia, even though it’s not guaranteed that it will completely stop the condition from developing.
  • There are treatment options available for those who have this condition.
  • Gynecomastia can affect any male at any age and is more common than you might think.

Let us know by sharing this article what you learned and how you want to better your health for the new year! What steps will you be taking to offer support to those who need it most?

Image Credits
Feature image: Shutterstock.com
In-Post Image: Shutterstock.com & Maleplasticsurgerynewyork.com