What is Gynecomastia?
Gynecomastia refers to a common condition in men where the breasts swell and become large in an abnormal manner.
Breast glands are present in all men and women. However, the glands are not noticeable in men and tend to be undeveloped and small. Male gynecomastia can affect new-borns, boys during puberty,
and older men.
Gynecomastia is not a grave issue or a serious problem. However, it can potentially affect a person’s self-confidence. Gynecomastia symptoms include:
- Swelling and tenderness in the breast gland tissue of one or both breasts
- Increase in the diameter of the areola
- An Asymmetrical appearance of the chest tissue
- Nipple discharge
Who is at risk?
Gynecomastia risk factors include:
- Older age
- Alcohol abuse
- Usage of anabolic steroids or androgens to amplify athletic performance
- Radiation treatment of the testicles
- Tumors of the testes, adrenal or pituitary gland
- Liver or kidney disease
- Thyroid disease and hormonally active tumors
- Klinefelter’s syndrome
The male body produces both estrogens, the “female” hormone that makes breast tissues grow, as well as testosterone, the “male” hormone that stops estrogen from making the breast tissue grow.An imbalance in these two sex hormones is the major gynecomastia cause.
Large breasts may develop when,
- a man’s testosterone levels are low in comparison to their estrogen levels
- there is relatively an excess of estrogen activity than testosterone activity
There are some conditions that can lead to gynecomastia. These include:
- Lack of proper nutrition
- Liver disease
- Kidney failure
- Tumors in the testicles or adrenal glands
Additionally, certain drugs have been known to cause gynecomastia. These include:
- Some antibiotics
- Some ulcer medications
- Anabolic steroids
- Tricyclic anti-depressants
- Diazepam and some other drugs for treating anxiety
- Some HIV medications
- Some heart drugs, including calcium channel blockers
How is Gynecomastia diagnosed?
The doctor may begin gynecomastia diagnosis by asking the patient questions about their medical history, drug history as well as family health history.
The doctor will perform a physical examination to carefully evaluate the breast tissue, abdomen, and genitals of the patient. In order to determine the cause of the condition, the doctor may initially order tests including blood tests and mammograms.
Depending upon the results of the initial tests, the doctor may order further gynecomastia test to eliminate other causes. These may include:
- Chest X-ray
- CT scan
- Testicular ultrasounds
In cases where the lump is abnormally large, one-side, tender, fixed and hard, or associated with nipple discharge, the doctor will order for a tissue biopsy, to rule out breast cancer.
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How is Gynecomastia treated?
In most cases, treatment for gynecomastia is not required as it lessens with time. However, in cases where the condition does not resolve in 2 years, is caused by a medical condition, or causes pain or tenderness, gynecomastia cure may be needed.
If the cause behind the condition is a particular medication, the patient may need to switch to another drug.
Gynecomastia medicine treatment can be done by using:
- Tamoxifen, a drug that restricts the action of estrogen in the body. It is usually used in the treatment and prevention of breast cancer and can also help with breast pain and breast enlargement in men.
- Aromatase inhibitors are utilized in the treatment of breast and ovarian cancer in postmenopausal women and may be used to treat gynecomastia in males.
- Testosterone replacement can help in treating the condition in older men who have low testosterone levels.
A doctor may usually not recommend surgery unless the condition is causing severe pain and tenderness or embarrassment. Procedures that can help include:
Gynecomastia is a condition that can be embarrassing to certain individuals and can lead to anxiety, stress, and depression. In order to cope with the condition, counseling is recommended.
How can Gynecomastia be prevented?
Gynecomastia prevention is not possible in most cases. This is because the condition is caused by changes in hormonal levels that are mostly natural. However, there are a few factors that can help adult men in preventing the condition. These include:
- Avoid using drugs like steroids and androgens
- Avoid drinking alcohol
- Review your medications and avoid taking medicines that are known to cause gynecomastia