What Is Gynecomastia – Causes and Symptoms of Male Breast Enlargement

Tablet with "Gynecomastia" on screen, stethoscope, pills and objects on wooden desktop.

Half of all men experience gynecomastia at some point during their lives. What is gynecomastia? More commonly known as ‘man boobs’, ‘gyno’, or ‘bitch tits’, this is the development of fatty breast tissue. Here’s how to diagnose it and get rid of it.

Take a look at your chest. Do you have more fat there than you should? Are you sporting a pair of man boobs? If you are, don’t feel bad. Up to 50% of guys experience gynecomastia at some point in their lives. What is gynecomastia?

Better known as bitch tits or gyno, gynecomastia is when you develop fatty deposits and new tissue growth in your breasts. If you think you might have this issue, it’s important to take action now to get rid of it. Let’s take a closer look at the symptoms, causes, and treatments for male gynecomastia.

Symptoms of Gynecomastia

Gynecomastia symptoms are generally harmless, but they can cause embarrassment and anxiety, especially because growth is common in both breasts but it can be uneven. Left untreated, male breast enlargement can cause a complex surrounding body image. Here are the most common symptoms to be aware of if you find yourself asking, “Do I have gynecomastia?”

  • Breast: The outside of your breast may have a rubbery feel to it. From the inside, it will feel swollen, tender, and sensitive to touch.
  • Nipple: One or both nipples may increase in size and color. Typically, men will see a darkening of their nipples if they have gynecomastia.
  • Skin: The skin surrounding the nipple will have a rubber-like feel. The pigmentation may also change in the area where you’re experiencing gyno.

The above gynecomastia symptoms are the most common, but if you experience pain, extreme swelling or tenderness, or nipple discharge, you’ll want to contact your doctor immediately.

How to Diagnose Gynecomastia

Male chest reduction

If you’re noticing any of the symptoms from above, we recommend paying a visit to your doctor as only he can officially determine whether you have gynecomastia or pseudogynecomastia. The latter is only the presence of excess fat while true gynecomastia involves both fat deposits and new tissue growth. Gynecomastia may require greater measures to treat it, such as medication.

To diagnose gynecomastia, your doctor will first ask you a series of questions regarding your current medical history, potential drug usage with a focus on anabolic steroids, and family medical history. This questionnaire is followed by a physical examination of the breast tissue, stomach, and genitals.

Next, depending on whether your doctor believes that you have gynecomastia or pseudogynecomastia and the severity of the condition, he may order one or several tests including a blood test and mammogram. For more severe cases, he may order an ultrasound or a computerized tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan. In extreme cases, a tissue biopsy may be needed.

These tests are necessary to ensure you have gyno and not another condition with similar symptoms such as fatty breast tissue, cancer, cyst, abscess, or hematoma.

Causes of Gynecomastia

Wondering what causes man boobs? There are several causes of gynecomastia, but behind each one there is the same underlying issue with the two sex hormones: estrogen and testosterone. When a man’s level of testosterone is low and his estrogen is high, this triggers the development of feminine features, most notably man boobs. Here are the most common triggers of hormonal disruption:

  • Herbal Remedies: Some herbal products, most notably lavender, licorice, and tea tree, may promote estrogenic activity.
  • Medical Conditions: There are a number of illnesses and conditions that can zap your testosterone levels, leading the way for estrogen dominance and the development of gynecomastia:
    • Hypogonadism: Umbrella term for conditions that result in low testosterone levels
    • Natural Aging Process: Men naturally lose testosterone as they age
    • Tumors: If found on the testicles, some tumors can disrupt testosterone production
    • Kidney and Liver Failure: Medications for kidney and liver health can cause gyno
  • Medications: Your medications could be helping one condition while promoting another. If you’re taking the following types of medications, you could be promoting the development of man boobs:
    • Antibiotics
    • AIDS medications
    • Chemotherapy
    • Anti-androgens used for prostate health or to combat balding (e.g., flutamide, finasteride)
    • Anabolic steroids (see Bodybuilding Gyno – How to Avoid Gynecomastia from Steroids)
    • Anti-anxiety and anti-depressant
    • Ulcer and gastric medications (e.g., cimetidine, metoclopramide)
  • Illegal Substances: Abuse of drugs and alcohol have been shown to cause gynecomastia. This includes alcohol, especially beer, marijuana, and performance-enhancing drugs such as anabolic steroids.

Risk Factors

Aside from the cause of gynecomastia listed above, there are several factors that can put you at a higher risk for male gynecomastia:

  • Age: Boys going through puberty and older men are at a higher risk because of hormonal fluctuations that occur early and later in life.
  • Performance-Enhancing Drugs: Gyno is extremely common – almost guaranteed – with anabolic steroid and androgen users because of the cessation of testosterone production after a cycle.
  • Current Medical Issues: Diseases of the liver, kidney, and thyroid, especially from alcohol abuse, put you at a higher risk for man boobs.

How to Prevent Gynecomastia

There are simple things you can do from childhood to late adulthood to prevent the development of gynecomastia:

  • Childhood: Do not let your child lead a sedentary lifestyle with television and video games. Get them up and about, providing natural and healthy meals each day. Pay close attention to the products that you are using in the house. Do not use anything with processed soy, heavy pesticides, or dangerous plastic additives. All three have been linked to estrogen dominance.
  • Adolescence to Adulthood: This is when the temptation to use anabolic steroids is the greatest. The chance for fast muscle may be tempting, but consider the end result: man boobs. Focus on a natural diet and plenty of exercise. We recommend weight lifting and cardiovascular exercise, such as running or biking.
  • Elderly: Pay close attention to the medications that your doctor gives you. Do your own research and don’t be afraid to ask questions if you believe medication is contributing to gyno. Stay active as much as you can. Ideally, you’ll still be involved with an exercise program. Studies suggest the elderly require fewer calories and this can help to avoid weight gain and gynecomastia.

Gynecomastia Treatment Options

    • Diet and Exercise: A great way to prevent gyno, diet and exercise can also help to treat it if you currently have it. A low-calorie diet coupled with an exercise program of resistance training and high-intensity cardio has the power to significantly reduce or eliminate gynecomastia.
    • Herbal Supplements: Extracts of specific plants and herbal remedies may have to promote fat-burning and the reduction of gyno. In particular, Gugulipid®, theobroma cacao, evodiamine, and green coffee extract have been shown to successfully support the elimination of gyno.

Gynectrol is a specially-formulated supplement designed specifically to fight gyno. It contains all of these proven ingredients along with several others.

  • Medication: If your case is severe enough, your doctor may prescribe a common antiestrogen medication called Tamoxifen, which has been shown to effectively reduce gyno.
  • Surgery: If you have full-blown gynecomastia, you’ve exhausted all of your natural options, and you have had enough stress, your doctor may recommend that you talk with a cosmetic surgeon. Gynecomastia surgery involves a combination of using liposuction to remove fatty deposits along with cutting away the new tissue growth. Like all surgeries, there is a risk for infection, but the results are life-changing.

Learn more about solutions for male gynecomastia by checking out our page on man boobs.

Don’t Let Gynecomastia Rule You

Gynecomastia may be inevitable for some guys out there, but it’s a choice to let it stick around. Adopting a healthy diet and exercise program with natural supplements can be all that you need to prevent gyno from ever showing itself.

Check also: How to Tighten Your Chest Skin For the More Manly Look >>

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