Gynaecomastia is a medical condition of overdevelopment or enlargement of breast gland tissue in males. Gynaecomastia can affect one or both breasts, sometime unevenly.
This condition develops when there is a change in hormonal levels (increase in oestrogen level or curb in testosterone production). The new tissue formed is firmer and more fibrous than the surrounding tissue. Generally, this condition isn't a serious problem but men with Gynaecomastia sometimes may have pain in their breasts and may also feel embarrassed. Let’s read about Gynaecomastia meaning, its representation by pictures, symptoms, causes, diagnosis, prevention, treatment, and more.
|Symptoms||Swollen breast tissue, Breast tenderness, Pain, Nipple sensitivity|
|Causes||Hormone imbalance, Obesity, Alcohol misuse, Kidney or liver disease|
|Diagnosis||Mammograms, Testicular ultrasound, Tissue biopsy, CT/MRI scan|
|Treated by||Endocrinologist, Plastic and Cosmetic Surgeon|
|Treatment options||Hormone replacement therapy, Liposuction, Male Breast Reduction (Gynaecomastia Surgery)|
What is Gynaecomastia?
Gynaecomastia is a medical condition in which there is a generalized enlargement of male breast tissue, with the presence of a rubbery or firm mass underneath and around the nipples. Gynaecomastia can affect one or both breasts, sometime unevenly. This condition may affect males of all ages, including newborns, during puberty, and older adults.
A lot of things can trigger the enlargement of the breast tissues in males. Some of the common factors that can cause Gynaecomastia are:
- Hormonal imbalance: This is the most common cause of Gynaecomastia. It is caused by an imbalance between oestrogen (female hormone) and androgens (male hormones). Oestrogen, the hormone that governs breast growth, is produced at modest levels in the male body. However, if there is excess oestrogen production or much less androgen, the male breasts tend to grow.
- Medications: Medicines that affect hormones can also cause gynaecomastia. These include heart medicine, amphetamines, anabolic steroids, and chemotherapy drugs. Medicines used to treat stomach ulcers, depression, high blood pressure, and prostate cancer can also enlarge breast tissues.
- Recreational drugs, illicit drugs and alcohol: Alcohol abuse, Amphetamines, Anabolic steroids used to build muscle, Marijuana or opioids, can also lead to Gynaecomastia.
- Medical Consition: Male breast growth can be caused by a variety of medical conditions, including, Hypogonadism (a condition that lowers testosterone levels), Liver disease, Thyroid disease, Klinefelter syndrome (a rare genetic condition), Kidney disorders, Adrenal tumours, Lung cancer, obesity.
- Herbal Products: Plant oils, like tea tree or lavender oils that are used in shampoo, soaps and lotions can also be associated with Gynaecomastia.
Majority of the of adult men with Gynaecomastia do not show any symptoms. However, following signs and symptoms of Gynaecomastia may be noted:
- Lump of fatty tissue under the nipple
- Pain, particularly in adolescents
- Breast tenderness
- Nipple sensitivity with rubbing against clothes
- Nipple discharge
Gynaecomastia doesn't always look the same in all male who have this condition. Some men may have minor gyno whereas others may have moderate to severe gyno. The grade or the type of Gynaecomastia depend upon the length of the condition. The types of Gynaecomastia are as follows:
- Small Breast Enlargement without Excess Skin: Characterzed by slight amount of breast growth that sticks out from the chest.
- Moderate Breast Enlargement without Excess Skin: Characterized by breast growth that expands broadly across the chest.
- Moderate Breast Enlargement with Excess Skin: Characterized by swelling of breast tissue and expanding beyond the width of the chest.
- Significant Breast Enlargement with Excess Skin: Characterized by severe breast enlargement with substantial extra skin. The breasts tend to be highly visible and can mimic female breasts.
How is Gynaecomastia diagnosed?
If you're concerned about swollen male breasts, the first thing you should do is consult your doctor. Your doctor will examine you and gather a history of your health and medications. The doctor may order the following test:
- Blood test to check your hormone levels.
- Ultrasound of breast: To see detailed photos of your breast growths.
- Mammogram: A mammogram is used to look for abnormal growth or alterations in the breast tissue.
- Biopsy: In this case, a small sample of the breast tissue will be removed and checked for the presence of cancer cells.
- Computerized tomography (CT) scans
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans
Most of the Gynaecomastia cases get better slowly and resolve over time without any treatment. However, if there is an underlying condition, your doctor may suggest one of the following methods for Gynaecomastia treatment:
Medications for the treatment of gynecomastia
- Tamoxifen: a drug that helps block the action of the female hormone estrogen in the body. It also help reduce the pain and breast enlargement symptoms in males with the condition.
- Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can be used to manage gynaecomastia. This helps to balance the hormone levels.
- If your enlarged breast tissues are caused because of taking certain medications, then stopping or switching to a different drug may improve the gynaecomastia. Consult your doctor before stopping any medication that is used to treat other health conditions.
- If a particular medical condition is a reason behind your gynaecomastia, then treating that condition will improve your breast size.
Gynaecomastia treatment with surgery
Depending on the severity of the condition, your doctor may suggest one of the following surgical procedures to get ride of Gynaecomastia:
- Liposuction: This surgery involves removal of breast fat but not the breast gland tissue itself.
- Mastectomy: This surgery involves the removal of the breast gland tissue. This method involves minimal incision and less recovery time.
Gynaecomastia Risk Factors
Gynaecomastia condition can develop in any age group. However, the following are the probable risk factors of the Gynaecomastia:
- Children having symptoms of gynaecomastia that last after their first birthday are more likely to develop pubertal gynaecomastia later in life.
- Patients with alcoholic liver disease are more prone to develop gynaecomastia.
- High oestrogen levels increase the risk for gynaecomastia in men.
- Mutation in the aromatase gene (responsible for oestrogen synthesis) that leads to excess oestrogen in many families (fathers and sons) increases the risk of gynaecomastia.
Risks and Complications of Gynaecomastia
If Gynaecomastia is not treated in time then it can worsen the symptoms which can be troublesome. The risks and complications of Gynaecomastia include:
- Impact the mental health: You may feel embarrassed, or feel anxious or depressed.
- Development of breast cancer: Men with this condition have a slightly higher risk of developing breast cancer in the future.
Prevention of Gynaecomastia
Gynaecomastia caused by hormonal imbalance cannot be prevented. Still, there are measures to reduce the risk of developing the condition. Some of the measures to prevent Gynaecomastia are:
- Avoid the use of illicit or recreational drugs, such as anabolic steroids, androgens, amphetamines, marijuana, or heroin.
- Avoid alcohol consumption.
- Switch the medications (linked to increased breast growth) under a doctor's supervision.
- Seek treatment for a substance abuse disorder.
Diet for Gynaecomastia
Lifestyle factors and diet of an individual has significant effect on development of a disease condition. If you are suffering from Gynaecomastia, you should know what food would help treat the condition. Start consuming the below mentioned food to increase the testosterone levels.
Anti-inflammatory foods: Food items such as salmon and tuna (fish) are rich in anti-inflammatory which can help you get relief from the swelling and tenderness caused due to gynecomastia.
Zinc-rich foods: Food items such as raw milk, yoghurt, nuts, cashew, spinach, pumpkin seeds, are rich in zinc that aids in testosterone production in the body.
Foods that are rich in healthy fats: Food items such as egg yolks, coconut, coconut oil, olive, almonds, butter, raisins, ginger, garlic, are rich in healthy fats (polyunsaturated fats and saturated fats) which can educe stubborn fat from the body.
Vitamin-D rich foods: Food items such as mushrooms, cereals, eggs, trout, dairy products, are rich in vitamin D. Vitamin D increases sperm count as well as increases testosterone production.
Freshly Squeezed Juices: Juices squeezed from fresh fruits such as amla, orange, pomegranate, carrot, cucumber, pineapple, have lower calorie intake that helps in weight reduction.
Some food items should also be avoided to reduce the risk of Gynaecomastia. Following are some of the food items that should be avoided.
- Beer and Alcohol: Alcoholic beverages restricts the liver to metabolise excess oestrogen hormones.
- Processed and canned food items: Chemicals used in the preserve canned food items can reduce the testosterone development in the body.
- Soy products: Products made up of soy such as soy milk, soy-rich snacks contain phytoestrogen that can further get converted to Oestrogen inside the body.
- Packaged and deep-fried foods: these food items are rich in saturated fat that results in the accumulation of fat tissue around the chest.
- Sugary food: Excess consumption of sugar leads to increased insulin production that can lower the production of testosterone hormone.
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