What is Gynecomastia?
In simple layman language, when a man’s breast size increases more than the normal, it is known as Gynecomastia. Millions of men and boys suffer from this disorder at one time or the other. In most men, this is not a permanent problem and tends to go away on its own as they reach adulthood.
Also known as man boobs or moobs, it is quite an embarrassing problem for the men. The social stigma attached with this disorder can harm a person’s self worth. Although, the important thing to know is that, gynecomastia is not always a health threat.
Important thing to know is that any imbalance in the levels of male and female hormones, in a man’s body, can cause gynecomastia. Every man has male hormones known as the androgens, but their body also produces the female hormone known as estrogen, as well. The production of estrogen in a male body is very little as compared to the androgens. When these levels of hormones are disturbed and the estrogen level rises in men, they tend to show some female characteristics. Of these female characteristics occurring in men, enlargement of the breast size is most common.
The various causes of gynecomastia are:
- Ageing – As men age the production of testosterone reduces in body while the production of estrogen remains the same. This disturbs the delicate male-female hormone balance and results in man boobs.
- Genetic – In very rare cases gynecomastia can be a genetic problem, as such inherited from parents or grand-parents.
- Medication – in some medicines, gynecomastia can be a side effect. Common medicines which cause this disorder are anabolic steroids, stomach acid drug, heart drug, prostate cancer drug and several others.
- Alcoholism – alcohol affects the liver function. When the liver does not metabolize estrogen in the male body properly, it results in gynecomastia.
- Chronic Diseases – Sometimes chronic diseases like liver failure, liver cirrhosis, cystic fibrosis etc. too cause the estrogen levels to rise in the male body.
- Tumors– Testicular tumors, choriocarcinoma, adrenocortical tumors, pituitary gland tumors etc. can produce hormones that alter the fine male to female hormone balance.
How Is It Diagnosed?
There is no fixed way to confirm gynecomastia. Its diagnosis is based on complete physical examination of the male suffering from the said problem. Once a complete physical is done by the doctor, they proceed to collect any family related history pertaining to this issue. Subsequent to this a mammogram or ultrasound is conducted. And finally, a biopsy is done in order to get a fluid sample for histology purposes.
Treatment for Gynecomastia
In some cases a simple exercise and diet regimen works wonders. But, this is not true for everyone. Doctors first try to control this problem through medication for suppressing the estrogens in male body. When that too does not bear fruits, the last resort is surgery for breast size reduction.
Although not a physical threat, gynecomastia might be a sign of some other underlying health problem. So ideally it should not be ignored and proper treatment for the same should be pursued. Right treatment will make your body healthy and relieve you of any social distress which the situation caused earlier.