Gynecomastia

Gynecomastia only recently started to receive more attention from the medical field as a potentially mentally damaging disease or disorder suffered by men. The reason I say “mentally damaging” is because typically the development of male breasts causes great embarrassment and psychological angst as well as body disassociation for men, and has even been viewed as a medical necessity in lawsuits against insurance companies that refuse to cover surgery for gynecomastia because of it’s psycholoigcal implications.

Gynecomastia is the abnormal enlargement of breast tissue in males. The causes can be varied, but, quite often, it is from a hormonal imbalance. If a male is overweight and the gynecomastia is from excess adipose tissue, this is termed pseudogynecomastia.

The treatment and solution for this type of breast enlargement in males starts with weight reduction. There are various stages in life when gynecomastia is more prevalent and likely to occur. Gynecomastia is seen more in males when they are neonatal, adolescent or elderly. For males afflicted with this abnormality during adolescence, it is often temporary and may resolve itself within several years.

With about 25% of the cases of gynecomastia, there may not be a clear cause. Usually, there is decreased testerone production and androgen receptor defects. Gynecomastia may be symptomatic of an underlying disease process. Chronic kidney or liver disease or other illnesses may lead to breast enlargement in males.

Diseases of the pituitary, testicular or adrenal tumors, or hyperthyroidism may also be a cause of gynecomastia. Certainly, a trip to the physician and screening for suspected physical disorders would be the first step towards treatment.

Other causes of gynecomastia are side effects from medications. Drugs used to treat prostate cancer which are often antiandrogens may cause breast enlargement. Other medications that may have this side effect include finasteride, cimetidine, spironolactone and certain antipsychotic drugs.

Another cause of gynecomastia in men is the use of steroids. Abuse of anabolic androgenic steroids also can lead to or greatly worsen the condition, not to mention cause other unwanted side effects. While gynecomastia, by itself, is not harmful physically, it is often socially and psychologically distressing to the men that suffer it, so much so that it may even cause severe depression in some men.

Treatment may be directed at the underlying illness if it is caused from another disease or disorder. If the gynecomastia is caused by medication, it may be revised by the physician.

Alternate medications, in certain instances, may be used to treat the patient which do not have the side effect of gynecomastia. Medications that may be used to treat gynecomastia are selective estrogen receptor modulators such as tamoxifen and chlomiphene.

Plastic surgery may be an option for certain patients when other treatment methods fail or there is breast tissue that remains and has hardened, since other treatments may have no effect in this case short of removal of the tissue.

And there you have it, gynecomastia in a nutshell. You may have vaguely heard of this condition before, and heck, may have seen lots of men suffering with the condition without knowing that the formation of female-like breasts actually had a medical name.

Further down the line, there may be better treatments for gynecomastia, but as of right now, surgery seems to be the fastest and most effective option, it’s just a scary thought for a lot of men to go under the knife for something that technically is not a physically threatening health condition.