Gynecomastia is a condition where the breast tissue in human males becomes enlarged, resulting in the appearance of female-like breasts. The condition is typically caused by hormonal imbalances in the body.

You see, everyone has a certain amount of male and female hormones in their bodies. Males have more testosterone and while females have more estrogen. These hormones play a significant role in carrying out various bodily functions. In fact, they are even associated with the development of the psychological and physical traits that help differentiate the sexes. In women, estrogen plays a role in the development of breasts.

However, it is possible for estrogen levels to go up in men as well for a variety of reasons. This increase in estrogen is what primarily leads to the development of breasts in men, which is what we call gynecomastia.

Gynecomastia is quite common among adolescent boys. This is due to the fact that hormone levels are always adjusting during the time a child transitions into becoming a teenager and adult. It is only when adolescents become adults that their hormone levels become properly adjusted. When this happens, the gynecomastia usually disappears. However, there are other factors that lead to gynecomastia as well.

Common Causes of Gynecomastia

In such cases, the problem can persist beyond adolescence or even occur all over again. Some of these causes include cirrhosis of the liver, chronic kidney failure, disorders of the testes (male sex organs) including infection, trauma, or inborn disorders, testicular cancer, aging, anti-androgen treatments for prostate cancer, hyperthyroidism, and malnutrition.

Symptoms of Gynecomastia

The most obvious symptom of gynecomastia is the enlargement of the male breasts. This enlargement, however, occurs in the glandular tissue and not the fatty tissue. The enlargement is symmetrical in relation to the nipple and might even have a firm feel.

In general, gynecomastia occurs on both sides, but there have been cases of unilateral development as well. In some cases, the enlargement can be uneven, i.e., larger on one side and relatively smaller on the other.

Some patients have reported sensitivity and tenderness. But, there is no known record of pain being associated with gynecomastia.

Treating Gynecomastia

In young males, going through puberty, gynecomastia tends to go away on its own. So, it is best to wait and observe in such cases. However, if the gynecomastia persists or if you’re an adult male with gynecomastia, then the only option left is to seek medical treatment.

Now, there are multiple options out there when it comes to treating gynecomastia. You can go in for drug-based treatments such as clomiphene or tamoxifen. But, do note that drug-based treatments for gynecomastia have not yet been approved by the US FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration)

You also have testosterone replacement therapy. However, this is known to work only in elderly men with low testosterone levels. Younger men with an optimal level of testosterone do not benefit from this.

However, if the breast tissue has already been scarred, none of the above treatments will work. In this case, the only option is to go in for surgical procedures like mammoplasty or breast reduction.

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