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Gynecomastia: Man boobs!

 What is gynecomastia?

It is a condition where the breasts tissue owing to imbalances of testosterone and oestrogen hormones swells up in boys and men.

Gynecomastia is commonly reported in older men and teenage boys. Gynecomastia results generally due to fluctuations in the levels of hormones. It can affect either both the breasts or one only.

Largely, gynecomastia is not a grave problem, but it can lead to embarrassment and prove tough to cope up. Often, gynecomastia may resolve on its own. Persistent gynecomastia might require surgery or medication to treat it.

Signs of gynecomastia:

  • Signs include from small to prominent levels of tissues around the nipples to conspicuous breasts.
  • Occasionally, the breasts may become tender or painful.

gynecomastia

Causes of Gynecomastia
Gynecomastia can result from:

  • Hormonal Imbalance: An imbalance of testosterone and oestrogen, sex-hormones leads to gynecomastia. Men do produce little levels of oestrogen and higher amounts of testosterone. High levels of testosterone prevent the breast growth caused by oestrogen. Sometimes, changes in the body cause imbalances in hormones.
  • During puberty and old age, a lot of changes in hormones occur and cause gynecomastia. New-borns, get oestrogen through the placenta and their gynecomastia resolves in a couple of weeks.
  • Obesity: High oestrogen levels due to obesity and not body fat causes gynecomastia.
  • Other causes include alcohol intake, certain medications, liver or kidney failure.

Diagnosis
A physical examination with assessment of the abdomen, breasts and genitalia would be performed and the doctor might question you about the use of medications and family history.

 The other test may include:

  • Mammogram
  • Ultrasound of testicles
  • CT Scan
  • MRI Scan
  • Biopsy

 Treatment

Treatment for gynecomastia includes:

  • Medication for correcting the hormonal imbalances.
  • Surgery may be the option if the growth is worrisome in nature

Surgery can be of two types:

  • Mastectomy: The breast tissues are removed and it can be done with smaller incisions needing less time for recovery.
  • Liposuction: It removes the excess fat in the breast but not the tissues of the breast.

Coping with gynecomastia

Often gynecomastia leads to embarrassment and stress among many individuals. Teenagers during their puberty may be the butt of jokes by their friends.

Coping with such stressful moments might be possible with:

  • Seek help from family and friends and explain your situation and stress you are facing.
  • Connect with others who suffer from gynecomastia

Next steps

Consult your physician if you find

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Discharge from nipples
  • Ulcers on breasts

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References

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1. Approach to the patient with gynecomastia. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2011; 96:15-21.

2. Breast enlargement in males. NIH MedlinePlus. Accessed 11 Feb 16. https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003165.htm

3. Gynecomastia: Clinical evaluation and management. Indian J Endocrinol Metab. 2014;18:150-8

4. Gynecomastia. Kidshealth.org. Accessed 11 Feb 16. http://kidshealth.org/teen/sexual_health/changing_body/boybrst.html

5. What is gynaecomastia? NHS UK. Accessed 11 Feb 16. http://www.nhs.uk/chq/Pages/885.aspx?CategoryID=61

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