What Causes Gynecomastia?

GynecomastiaIf you’ve ever wondered why some men have larger “breasts” than normal, they may be suffering from gynecomastia. Gynecomastia occurs when a man has either too much estrogen or too little testosterone, causing the breast glandular tissue to swell. But what causes this hormonal imbalance?

Men can experience gynecomastia at any age, all of which are associated with different causes of the condition.

Newborns – Estrogen from the mother could cause breast buds to develop, but they only last for about six months.

Preteens – If a prepubescent boy develops breast buds, gynecomastia could be the result of an estrogen producing tumor.

Teenagers – During puberty, hormonal changes cause boys to develop breast buds. They typically go away within six months to two years.

Adults – Gynecomastia in adult men can be caused by a number of medical conditions or lifestyle choices.

To get a better idea of what might be causing a particular case of gynecomastia, consider the following conditions:

  • Lung cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Cirrhosis of the liver
  • Overactive thyroid (often caused by pituitary gland, adrenal gland, or testicular cancer)

Gynecomastia may also be caused by one or more of the following substances and medications:

  • Alcohol
  • Marijuana
  • Methamphetamine
  • Heroine
  • Steroids
  • Chemotherapy drugs
  • Heart medication
  • Ulcer medication
  • Epilepsy medication
  • Antidepressants
  • Antiandrogen drugs

Identifying the cause of gynecomastia is an important step in choosing the appropriate treatment. Newborn to teenage boys typically don’t require treatment, as the condition will likely go away on its own. If the condition is caused by medication or other substance use, stopping the medication could also reduce the symptoms. And if the gynecomastia is caused by an estrogen or testosterone imbalance, hormone treatment could resolve the issue. In cases that treatment doesn’t eliminate the gynecomastia, surgery may be an option.

Gynecomastia can be an extremely uncomfortable situation for affected men. But they don’t need to live with the condition forever. A doctor, or eventually a plastic surgeon, can completely eradicate the issue. The first step is to reach out for help. Give us a call if your gynecomastia treatment thus far has been unsuccessful. We can further discuss your options.

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