Gynecomastia is a condition characterized by enlargement of the breast tissue in men. It occurs when there is an imbalance of the testosterone (male sex hormone) and estrogen (female sex hormone) in the body. It may a cause of embarrassment in men.
The primary cause for this condition is an increase in the level of estrogen in comparison with testosterone in the male body. Testosterone controls male characteristics such as body hair and muscle mass. Estrogen is responsible for controlling female characteristics such as breast enlargement.
Men usually produce small quantities of estrogen in their body to maintain certain sexual functions. Complications occur when estrogen levels in the male body increase too much in proportion to testosterone.
The condition can be classified as follows:
- Gynecomastia in infants: Half of the infants are usually born with large breasts due to their mother's estrogen. The effect tends to wear off in a few weeks.
- Gynecomastia during puberty: Gynecomastia occurs during puberty due to changes in hormones. The condition goes away without any treatment in six months to 1 year.
- Gynecomastia in men: This condition may peak in men during the age of 50-80. Statistics show that at least 1 out of 4 men in this age group has this condition.
Some other causes for this condition in middle-aged men are as follows:
- Heart medications
- Anti-anxiety drugs
- Medications that are used to treat heartburn
- Smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol
- If the cause of the condition is medications, then discontinuing the medicines should stop the effects. It can also be treated by taking medicines to reduce estrogen levels in the body.
- Surgery is another option where an incision is made in the chest area and the extra breast tissues are removed from the area. This also requires repositioning of the nipple in the chest.
- Post-surgery, you should stick to a proper and healthy lifestyle to retain the new shape of the chest area. Weight gain or taking steroids can cause the symptoms of this condition to reappear.