So What is Gynecomastia?
Before I begin with the meaning of Gynecomastia, the main issue with Gynecomastia is its pronunciation. So here it goes, it is pronounced as “guy-nuh-Koh-MAS-tee-uh.” The word Gynecomastia comes from the Greek word Gynec meaning female and Mastia meaning Breasts.
Gynecomastia refers to the sudden swelling of tissues in breasts occurring in the breasts of men or boys which is caused due to the imbalance of the hormones estrogen and testosterone. The increase in the breast size can not only affect one but both the breasts and that too resulting in uneven sizes. Gynecomastia is also found in newborns and boys who are going through puberty tend to develop with the prospect of average changes in hormones.
Gynecomastia is due to a hormonal imbalance in the body with a relative excess of Estrogens (female hormones) when compared to androgens( male hormones). And sometimes the infants who develop this is due to the mother’s estrogen blood that it is transferred through the means of blood.
Gynecomastia is different from what Lipomastia is as this refers to the breasts of obese men where fats are deposited. The main reasons for a Man that he has to witness are, or the cause for a problem like this is excessive drug addiction that makes your heartburn, stress and kidney failure and also consumption of alcohol.
So if you have learned what is Gynecomastia now, I will be letting you know about the symptoms and signs that you may develop.
Symptoms and signs of Gynecomastia
Well, the first symptom is obviously the sudden growth of the breast size on both sides being affected or in some cases only with one breast. So if there is growth on one side, then there is a high chance of one breast being slightly oversized when compared with the other one.
With Growth of breast size, there are chances of cancer which can be diagnosed by a hard or firm feeling around the tissue, dimpling the skin and withdrawal of the nipple. You might further find that your nipple is less than an inch and half across accompanied by pain when touched and maybe tenderness.
This might also be cases of your breasts releasing a fluid discharge which forms like a bud around breast or nipple. A lot of people confuse this with cancer, but these are not the signs of cancer as in cancer the affected tissue is not necessarily hard or firm. And in the case of cancer, only one breast is affected.
Gynecomastia is overall different kind of breast cancer when compared to that of the breast cancer found in women. Overall Gynecomastia accounts for about 1% of breast cancer. There might be other factors to consider who might get Gynecomastia, or other risk factors to be taken into consideration:
- Aging promotes the decrease in testosterone production that can cause this problem.
- Medications which are taken without a doctor’s prescription might also lead to Gynecomastia.
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Causes of Gynecomastia
So what causes your breast/chest to appear bigger when compared to the size of your other breasts? Continue reading and check out below to know what causes Gynecomastia. Gynecomastia that appears in a normal infant and pubertal boys that resolves on its own with time is known as psychological gynecomastia.
Generally, in men, the peak age of occurrence of Gynecomastia appears in the period between the age of 50-69. It is reported that out of 1 in 4 men in this age group are affected. Here are a few medicines that can cause Gynecomastia,
Hate removing your shirt while going out with friends to enjoy the sunny weather or taking a dip in a beach or a pool? Is it because you have man breasts lying on your chest? Not allowing you to beat the heat by taking off your shirt in hot and sunny weather? And have you ever wondered what is the biological term for the breasts found in men and what are the causes behind it?
Well, I guess this article will help you in not only knowing what Gynecomastia is but the signs, symptoms and the cure involved in it.
- Drugs abuse such as alcohol, marijuana, methadone, amphetamines, and heroin.
- Ulcer curing drugs such as Cimetidine (Tagamet) and Ranitidine (Zantac)
- Estrogen therapies or anti-androgens that are used to treat prostate enlargement, prostate cancer. Spironolactone( Aldactone) that is used as a diuretic which has anti-androgenic activity.
- Highly active antiretroviral therapy(HAART) used for HIV diseases, may cause fat and prompting Gynecomastia to build. Men who are HIV positive receive this kind of medication
- Medicines that help in treating hypertension such as Calcium channel blockers can also cause Gynecomastia.
- Chemotherapy used in the treatment of Cancer
Apart from the medications that are one of the major cause of Gynecomastia, there are also other conditions which cause enlargement of breasts.
Here are the diseases or some health conditions which causes breast enlargement:
- Aging: Changes in hormone in normal aging, particularly found in obese men.
- Kidney Failure: patients who are treated with hemodialysis get exposed to Gynecomastia due to hormonal changes
- Hyperthyroidism: Thyroid glands produce excessive hormone thyroxine
- Liver failure and cirrhosis: Hormonal variation related to liver problems as well as medications taken for cirrhosis are associated with gynecomastia.
- Malnutrition: The adequate nutrition in the body is deprived, testosterone levels drop, but estrogen levels remain constant, causing a hormonal imbalance. Gynecomastia can also develop once natural diet resumes.
- Tumors: tumors involving the testes, adrenal glands or pituitary gland produce hormones which alter the male and female hormonal imbalance and causes Gynecomastia
- Hypogonadism: Conditions that interfere with normal testosterone production, such as Klinefelter syndrome can be associated with Gynecomastia.
There are also a few herbal products that are associated with Gynecomastia and might cause Gynecomastia
- Lavender and Tea tree oils which are used in shampoos, soaps or even lotions are correlated with Gynecomastia. These oils are Plant oils that cause Gynecomastia due to their weak estrogenic activity.
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Before heading on to treatment, let me tell you about the diagnosis that helps you analyze whether you have or do not have Gynecomastia. Note that no matter which doctor you choose, they will require your full history and information such as medical or drug history and any family member with the same problem.
There will be an evaluation of penile size and development, assessment of testicular development and assessing the masses that raise suspicion for testicular cancer, proper development of secondary sex characteristic (puberty in men) such as the amount and distribution of pubic and underarm hair.
A review of medications and illegal substances a person consumes may help in revealing the cause of Gynecomastia. Initially, the tests that determine the cause of Gynecomastia are Blood Tests and Mammograms.
The method used in Diagnosing Gynecomastia
Mammography is the method used for radiologic examination of breast tissues in male when breast cancer is suspected on physical examination. This method is rarely used since breast tissue enlargement in men is a rare cause.
If further findings are not possible through Mammography, then no imaging is necessary. If a tumor is found in adrenal glands or testis, then ultrasound might be performed in these structures.
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Well, treatment may not be required in some cases. Rarely medical or surgical procedure is necessary. Treatment of Gynecomastia might be treated with advice on your lifestyle habits such as proper diet and exercise. As I said earlier, only in some cases the intervention of surgical treatment is mandatory.
There are other ways to get rid of your “Man Boobs”, you can either take medicines and also cure it through surgery. Doctors may recommend you to visit their clinic every three to six months to see if your conditions have improved or not.
Well experts say that Gynecomastia can fade away without treatment in less than two years. However, if it does not improve, then it may cause severe pain and excessive growth of breasts.
Firstly I would recommend you some medicines; you can find these medicines which help in treating Gynecomastia but note that although the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approve these medicines, they are mentioned to be eaten specifically for treating Gynecomastia.
- Clomiphene can take up to six months for treatment
- Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulator (SERM) such as Tamoxifen (Soltamox), raloxifene (Evista) and aromatase inhibitors (Arimidex). These might not eliminate breast tissue, but it is found to be the most common therapy for severe or agonizing Gynecomastia
- Aromatase Inhibitors: are used as off-label cases in situations like Gynecomastia occurring due to puberty but are proved to be less effective than SERMs
Surgery is proved to be one of the easiest ways to get rid of ‘Man Boobs’. Surgical removal of Gynecomastia is only required for the treatment of chronic gynecomastia.
There are two options available while taking up a surgery:
Liposuction removes breast fat but not the breast gland tissue
A mastectomy is an option where you can completely remove the breast gland tissue. Under this surgery, only small incisions are made. This type of surgery involves less recovery time.
There are various exercises to get rid of gynecomastia; I have a mentioned a few exercises below which will help you stay in shape. So try out these simple exercises:
- Try out Cardiovascular exercises which include walking, running, skipping, cycling and also swimming. Try repeating this on a regular basis.
- Try using a rowing machine for three to four times a week. I would recommend you to start with 10-minute sessions for the first week
- Swimming is a better choice as it does not cause too much fatigue, swimming for half an hour might prove to be more useful when compared to rowing.
Try avoiding heavy chest exercises that involve weightlifting; this might prove to be fatal to you as it hardens the muscle and hence making it difficult to get rid of breasts.
Note: You can also try out with a few types of equipment, but then I suggest you to first consult your physician or a doctor to check if heavy weight lifting is right for you or not.
Grading of Gynecomastia
Gynecomastia is categorized into four grades, namely:
- Grade I: Minor enlargement, no skin excess
- Grade II: Moderate enlargement, no skin excess
- Grade III: Moderate enlargement, skin excess
- Grade IV: Marked enlargement, skin excess
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The Role played by Society and Culture
Well, depression is not a new thing in this modern age. There is an ever-increasing number of people who are suffering from mental health problems. The addition of derogatory remarks regarding your man boobs can affect a person in various ways. Society always finds a way to body shame a person, be it being thin or fat.
In the case of Gynecomastia, insensitive people come up with terms that can make a person feel isolated or embarrassed. So next time if you see someone who is in that situation or you are in that situation, remember that Gynecomastia does not happen by choice. Rather it is a disease found in a high amount of male falling under specific age groups.
So I have made a list of people who can invoke some change in the mind of a depressed person who is suffering from Gynecomastia, here take a look:
Yes, family and friends are the ones you should look up. You can explain to them about your current situation and in return, they will guide you. This will help build a stronger your relationship with them.
Yes, you should. Therapy with a psychologist can help you avoid anxiety and depression caused by Gynecomastia. If not with a psychologist, then speak to your family members so that they might understand you better.
Speak to those who have Gynecomastia
Connecting with the people who have Gynecomastia can help you cope. There are numerous forums available where you can log in and discuss the problems you face.
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- Am I suffering from Gynecomastia?
Is Gynecomastia bothering you both psychologically and physically? If you feel positive about the answer, you should consider surgery and start rendering information which in a way will help you while consulting a Surgeon who is experienced in this type of surgery, obtaining information from websites and referrals.
- Why should a reduction of male breast size be recommended?
Reducing unwanted fat or the excess breast tissue that contribute to gynecomastia cannot be attained through weight loss and exercise alone. With treatment of gynecomastia through surgery or medication, you can reshape your male chest and improve the shape and proportion of body.
- Is there any pain caused during the process of surgical treatment?
There is minimal pain post the treatment. Painkillers are prescribed to control the pain following the treatment.
Is there anything else that I have not mentioned here? Feel free and write to me in the comments section below. Also, the medications discussed here are prescribed by the doctors but to be sure with the medicines, I suggest you to first consult a doctor.