Voluminous breasts are considered a beauty asset of women, but men who sport them are cruelly ridiculed by their friends and family. This socially embarrassing abnormality in men is a condition called gynecomastia, which is basically enlargement of the breasts. Some boys at puberty may develop gynecomastia naturally. It gets resolved automatically after puberty. The other causes of gynecomastia are metabolic disorders, under-production of testosterone, and medicinal side effects. Gynecomastia is characterized by full breasts, resembling the breasts of women.
Tender breast tissue, areolar enlargement, and chest asymmetry are some of the other symptoms of gynecomastia. Though not harmful by itself, gynecomastia may be representative of an underlying serious condition such as testicular cancer.
In adults, treatment should be given as soon as the condition occurs. Treatment after one year of the existence of this breast disorder in men, may not be very helpful in curing it. Treatment involves surgical removal, SERMs usage, radiation therapy and Tamoxifen.
Top Causes Of Gynecomastia
Estrogen hyper-functioning is one of the most common causes of gynecomastia. However, the causal factor is not known in 25% of the cases.
Klinefelter syndrome and hypopituiterism result in the under-production of testosterone, and are associated with gynecomastia.
Non-physiological gynecomastia is caused due to hormonal medications that result in androgen deprivation and/or increase in estrogen action.
Aging results in the decrease of testosterone levels in men. This may result in gynecomastia, which is usually observed in people from 60-80 years of age.
Tumors such as testicular tumors (Leydig cell tumors and Sertoli cell tumors) , adrenocortical tumors, bronchogenic carcinoma, or pituitary tumors, disturb the balance of the male hormones in men resulting in gynecomastia.
Hyperthyroidism results in the over production of thyroxin that influences the normal functioning of the male sex hormones in men, leading to gynecomastia. Upon rectification, the gynecomastia gets resolved within a few months.
Kidney failure is one of the major causes of gynecomasita. Testicular damage due to uremia-associated hypogonadism results in the lower production of testosterone in the body leading to gynecomastia.
Kidney failure also leads to malnutrition due to which hormone levels drop in the body. Testosterone is under-produced in the body resulting in gynecomastia.
Males, when in the wombs of their mothers, have enlarged breasts at birth or in the first few weeks of their birth. This holds true for some female fetuses also. This is because of the effects of maternal estrogen on the fetus.
Liver failure and liver cirrhosis increase the estrogen : testosterone ratio. The defective liver fails to metabolize estrogen properly. Those with alcoholic liver are vulnerable to gynecomastia as ethanol disturbs the normal production of testosterone. Phytoestrogens, present in alcohol, have an estrogenic effect on the male body, leading to gynecomastia. Gynecomastia is a medically benign breast enlargement in males, but there can be other causes of breast enlargement too.
Breast cancer, lipoma, dermoid cyst, pseudogynecomastia, mastitis, metastasis, hamartoma, fat necrosis, ductal ectasia, muscle hypertrophy, and sebaceous cysts are the other causal factors of breast enlargement. A diagnosis of gynecomastia involves ruling out the other possibilities of breast enlargement, some of which may be harmful.