Gynecomastia

Gynecomastia 2017-10-19T10:44:49+00:00

Benign Breast Conditions
Gynecomastia is the most common male breast disorder. It is not a tumor but rather just an increase in the amount of a man’s breast tissue. Usually, men have too little breast tissue to be felt or noticed. A man with gynecomastia has a button-like or disk-like growth under his nipple and areola, which can be felt and sometimes seen. Gynecomastia, common among teenage boys, is due to changes in hormone balance during adolescence. The same condition is not unusual in older men and is also due to changes in their hormone balance.
Rarely, gynecomastia can occur because tumors or diseases of certain endocrine (hormone-producing) glands cause a man’s body to produce more estrogen (the main female hormone). Although men’s glands normally produce some estrogen, it is not enough to cause breast growth. Diseases of the liver, which is an important organ in male and female hormone metabolism, can change a man’s hormone balance and lead to gynecomastia.

Many commonly prescribed medications can sometimes cause gynecomastia, too. These include some drugs used to treat ulcers and heartburn, high blood pressure, and heart failure. Men with gynecomastia should ask their doctors about whether any medications they are taking might be causing this condition.

Klinefelter’s syndrome, a rare genetic condition, can lead to gynecomastia and increase a man’s risk of developing breast cancer. This condition is discussed further in the section on risk factors for male breast cancer.
Gynecomastia in Men

What is Gynecomastia?

The term comes from the Greek words gyne meaning “woman” and mastos meaning “breast.” In practical terms, this means abnormally large breasts on men.
The condition is relatively common in adolescent boys, and 90% of the time symptoms disappear in a matter of months, or, as adolescence wanes, a few years later. But the remaining 10% are burdened with a social handicap that causes a deep and complex shame, and puts one’s relationship with one’s body at risk.
Gynecomastia in Men

What is Gynecomastia?

The term comes from the Greek words gyne meaning “woman” and mastos meaning “breast.” In practical terms, this means abnormally large breasts on men.
The condition is relatively common in adolescent boys, and 90% of the time symptoms disappear in a matter of months, or, as adolescence wanes, a few years later. But the remaining 10% are burdened with a social handicap that causes a deep and complex shame, and puts one’s relationship with one’s body at risk.

The Cure

In cases of obesity, weight loss can alter the gynecomastic condition, but for many it will not eliminate it. For all other causes, surgery is the only known physical remedy. Once the physical encumbrance is lifted, psychological scars still need to be addressed. One must come to terms with one’s body, accept it, and heal the wounds from the past.

Psychological Issues

Gynecomastia can be emotionally devastating. Feelings of shame, embarrassment and humiliation are common. One does not feel masculine in a society where masculinity is exalted. Self-hate threads itself through all aspects of the individual’s life, creating an insidious web of powerlessness. A man or boy with gynecomastia struggles with anxiety over such simple acts as taking off his shirt at the beach.

For many men, the best solution is surgery. That accomplishes step one of the healing. Step two is psychological redress. From childhood taunting to a lifetime of hating his chest, the hurt feelings will not go away with the fact of breast reduction alone.

Men who have developed gynecomastia later in life from steroid abuse or some other cause may have little to no psychological distress. However, for some in this situation, it can leave them feeling out of control of their body or emasculated in some matter. Hopefully, corrective surgery will resolve these feelings, for some it will not and therapy will needed to relieve the distress.

It is important to recognize the scars on the inside. This is difficult work because it means coming to terms with one’s body and past. Acknowledging the pain, moving into a new relationship with one’s body and changing how he thinks the world sees him is the key to healing and freedom.

Men often have a very difficult time talking about their breasts to anyone, but it is the first step toward relief. Realizing that they are not alone is a powerful antidote for the shame and a beginning toward healing.