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In gynecomastia, the breast tissue becomes enlarged in males and their breasts swell. Actually, boys are also born with some breast tissue in their body, but their breasts do not develop like women’s. However, there can be many causes due to which boys’ breasts may swell.
Causes of Gynecomastia
Causes for gynecomastia may be:
- Hormonal imbalance
- Body changes during puberty
- Disease or injury affecting testosterone making testicles
- Certain medicines, such as anti-androgens, anabolic steroids, androgens, HIV drugs, anti-anxiety medicines, heart medicines, ulcer drugs, antibiotics, etc.
- Thyroid problems, as hormones from thyroid are responsible for sexual development and growth
- Some new born boys have gynecomastia for the first few days of their life, because their mother’s hormones are still present in their body
- Certain cancers, like tumours in the lungs, adrenal glands, or pituitary gland
- Increased estrogen due to obesity
- Consumption of illegal drugs, like heroin, marijuana and anabolic steroids
- Kidney failure
- Liver disease
The first and most obvious sign of gynecomastia is a fatty tissue lump under the nipples, that may sometimes be sore or tender. Since this can be a sign of breast cancer in men also, your doctor may want to get some tests done to rule that out. In men, breast swelling happens unevenly, which means one breast may be larger in size than the other, with some tenderness as well. It is important to consult a doctor if your breasts are swelling, if they are tender or painful, or if you notice discharge from your one or both nipples.
Hard lumps, skin issues, and oozing fluid are signs of breast cancer. If you don’t have these issues, then probably you have gynecomastia. Your doctor will try to reach a conclusion, based on your medical history. They will ask you if you had any illness in the past, such as liver disease, kidney disease, or mumps. They will also confirm any legal or illegal drugs you are taking. Based on the given information, they will ask you to go for a few tests, like mammogram, biopsy, blood test, urine test, CT scan, MRI scan, or testicular ultrasound.
Most cases of gynecomastia do not need any treatment. However, you may seek consultation from an endocrinologist who specialises in treating hormone related issues. Your treatment procedure will largely depend on your age, overall health, how long you have been living with gynecomastia, and your response to drugs.
If your gynecomastia has come during puberty, it will go away automatically within a few months or years. But if your condition is caused due to hormonal imbalance, then you will need proper treatment with medicines.
In extreme cases, your doctor may recommend you a surgical procedure to get rid of gynecomastia. Some of the common surgical techniques used for gynecomastia are:
- Liposuction, in which extra fat from your breast is removed
- Mastectomy, in which your breast gland tissue is removed
- Reduction mammoplasty, which is a breast reduction surgery used to handle severe cases of gynecomastia being prevalent for a long time
Here are a few steps that can be helpful in preventing gynecomastia:
- Avoid use of recreational or illicit drugs, like androgens, marijuana, anabolic steroids, amphetamines, etc.
- Drink alcohol moderately
- If any of your regular medicines contain breast augmenting ingredients, ask your doctor for alternatives
Gynecomastia is known to cause more harm to your mental health rather than your physical health. Most men having this condition have to face embarrassment, leading to anxiety and depression. If you are also feeling down due to your enlarged breasts, get in touch with an expert and have them removed through medicines or surgery. With such good options available, you no longer need to live with them.