Gynaecomastia: Signs, causes, and treatment

(Photo:Handout from Samer Abd Alfatah)
Gynaecomastia is a well-known condition that causes males’ breasts to swell and become larger than normal. This condition predominantly affects young teenage males and adult males.اضافة اعلان

Signs of gynaecomastia

Symptoms differ and range from observing a small amount of extra tissue surrounding the nipple area of the breast, to more pronounced breasts. The symptoms are not limited to one breast and could be observed on both.
Another symptom of gynaecomastia is a tenderness or painful sensation around the breast area.

(Photo:Handout from Samer Abd Alfatah)

Causes of gynaecomastia

Hormone imbalance: One of the causes of gynaecomastia can be attributed to hormonal imbalance, more specifically between testosterone and oestrogen. The enlargement of the breast tissue is caused by oestrogen. Although men produce a small level of oestrogen, their higher level of testosterone prevents the growth of the breast tissue. Therefore, when an imbalance between the hormones occurs, it can cause men’s breasts to swell and grow. What causes this imbalance is not often determined.
Obesity: Another recurring cause of gynaecomastia is obesity — alternatively described as being overweight. The effect of being overweight and excess fat allow for the production of higher levels of oestrogen, which in turn leads to the swelling or enlargement of the breast tissue and area. Weight loss to remedy this may assist but is guaranteed to treat the condition.

Puberty: In younger males, during puberty, hormone level fluctuations occur. If testosterone levels drop, higher oestrogen levels could lead to a growth or swelling of the breast tissue. It is not uncommon for boys to observe a limited growth in the breast at puberty, however this tends to gradually come to a stop once they become older and their hormone levels stabilize.

Older age: As men age, less testosterone is produced by the body and more fat is accumulated which leads to higher levels of oestrogen. The changes in these hormonal levels in older men can be attributed to causing excess breast tissue enlargement and growth.

Other causes: Less common causes of gynaecomastia include drugs such as cannabis or anabolic steroids and alcoholism. 

Treatment for gynaecomastia

Should you observe or become concerned about breast tissue growth, then see your GP or a medical professional in order to discuss the available medical options and treatments available to you. Possible recommendations may include surgery to remove the excess breast tissue and medication to treat and recalibrate hormonal imbalances.

Should you experience severe pain or notice a lump in the affected area, then you must visit your doctor. The lump may require surgery for removal, but note that breast cancer and gynaecomastia are not linked. 

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