What Is Gynecomastia?
Gynecomastia is a condition that results in increased breast tissue growth in boys and men. It’s the most common male breast disorder.
The condition can occur at different stages of life. More than 50% of male newborns have some degree of breast enlargement due to exposure to the mother’s estrogen. More than half of teenage boys develop gynecomastia as their hormones change. And older men may notice breast enlargement due to increased body fat and lower testosterone levels.
Gynecomastia can produce lumps or generalized abnormal enlargement in one or both breasts, and the growth may be uneven. An imbalance in testosterone and estrogen often causes the condition.
How to Tell If You Have Gynecomastia
Abnormal breast size in boys and men isn’t always the result of gynecomastia. Other health issues like excess fatty breast tissue (particularly in those who have obesity), a breast abscess (infected breast tissue), or breast cancer (which is rare in boys and men but can occur) can cause the development of larger breasts.
If you believe you have or your child has developed more breast tissue than expected, you should contact your doctor. They’ll perform an exam to assess the breast tissue as well as the abdomen and genitals.
In addition, they’ll order tests to determine if something other than gynecomastia is causing the issue.
That can include:
- Blood tests
- Urine tests
- Tissue biopsies
- Various scans of the breast tissue, including mammograms, computed tomography (CT), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- Testicular ultrasounds
Your doctor will develop a treatment plan based on the results of these tests and other factors (your age, current health, health history, etc.).
Most cases of gynecomastia occur during puberty and resolve on their own with no treatment. This can take from several months to two or three years.
In some instances, a doctor may prescribe hormone therapy to treat gynecomastia. If that doesn’t resolve the issue or if unwanted breast tissue remains, your doctor may recommend a procedure to address it. Liposuction is used to remove excess breast fat, and a mastectomy can remove breast gland tissue.
Seeking Support for Gynecomastia
Having enlarged breasts as a boy or man and feeling like your body is “out of control” can be stressful. Boys, in particular, can be teased by their peers and consequently reluctant to go swimming, change their clothes in front of others, or pursue romantic relationships.
If you or your child develop gynecomastia and it impacts your quality of life, you should contact your doctor about treatment. However, you should also remember that talking about the condition with caring loved ones, a counselor, or others with the condition can be very helpful.
Get Help for Gynecomastia from Baptist Health
If you experience abnormal breast enlargement, Baptist Health can help. From doing tests to rule out breast cancer to recommending treatment and counseling, we’re here for you! It’s vital to get the care you need to be healthy and happy.
If you don’t have a Baptist Health physician, you can find one using our online provider directory.