Overview of Gynecomastia

Gynecomastia is the enlargement or swelling of breast tissue in men or boys. His condition is harmless and can occur due to the imbalance of some hormones. It usually occurs due to highly increased levels of estrogen in males and an imbalance in testosterone levels. 

What is Gynecomastia?

This condition is more common in boys reaching puberty level and older men. An imbalance in hormones causes breast tissue enlargement. It can happen in either one or both breasts.   


Gynecomastia can happen due to many conditions but if you have breast enlargement disorder due to the fat deposit, that is a different condition and is known as “Pseudogynecomastia

Signs and Symptoms of Gynecomastia

Depending upon your hormonal imbalance, you may have a small amount of extra fat around your nipple or have visibly prominent breasts. In some cases, it can become tender or painful. The common symptoms are: 

  • Swelling in the breast tissue 
  • Tenderness in the breast 


Types of Gynecomastia

Causes of Gynecomastia

Depreciated testosterone levels compared to estrogen is the primary condition of gynecomastia. Many conditions can trigger this imbalance in hormonal levels. Some of these include: 

  • Natural changes in hormones  - These two hormones “Estrogen” and “Testosterone” basically control the sex characteristic in both men and women. Testosterone influences male traits including muscle mass and bodily hair whereas estrogen controls female traits. 

Contradictory to the commonly believed theory that men do not produce estrogen, men produce estrogen but in a very small amount. Strong levels that are too high or out of proportion as compared to testosterone cause gynecomastia. 

  •  Gynecomastia in infants - more than half of baby boys are born with enlarged breast tissue due to estrogen levels passed from their mothers through the placenta. Although in the majority of cases, the swelling in the breast tissue goes away within the first two to three weeks after birth. 

  • Gynecomastia during puberty - an imbalance in hormones during puberty is pretty common. Gynecomastia during this period does not require any treatment and goes away within six months to two years. 

  • Gynecomastia in adults - after the teenage age of boys, this condition is also common among older males aged between 50-69 years of age. 1 in 4 men in this age group is affected. 

  • Obesity - Being obese and extremely overweight can also cause an imbalance in hormonal levels which causes breast tissue to become swollen. Some people can cure this condition by reducing weight and doing more exercise. 



Risk Factors of Gynecomastia

Some other possible causes for this disorder can be: 

  • Consuming anti-ulcer drugs for a heart condition or some other medication - a side effect of these medicines is an imbalance in hormones. 
  • Consuming illegal drugs 
  • Consuming increased levels of alcohol 
  • Having some health condition like kidney or liver failure 
  • Having a rare genetic disorder “Klinefelter Syndrome” 
  • Having lumps or infections in the testicles 
  • Malnutrition and starvation 
  • Liver failure and cirrhosis 
  • Tumors 
  • Hyperthyroidism 





Treatment of Gynecomastia | When to Consult a Doctor

Consult your general physician if you think you are developing any extra fat tissue around your breasts. Some possible treatment options can be: 


  • Anti-androgens 
  • Anabolic steroids 
  • AIDS medication 
  • Anti-anxiety medication 
  • Tricyclic antidepressants 
  • Antibiotics 
  • Ulcer medication 
  • Cancer treatment 
  • Heart medication 
  • Stomach - emptying medications 


Your doctor might also recommend a surgical procedure to remove any excess fat or breast tissue.  However the surgical procedure is done as the last resort and not usually recommended. 

If you observe any concerning signs and symptoms, please reach out to a certified endocrinologist near you.