Boys and men naturally don’t have breasts similar to that of a woman. They have a flatter chest, which helps make them look more masculine. In some men and boys, the chest may seem to grow and resemble that of a woman. When the breast grows in size due to the enlargement of the breast tissues, it is called gynecomastia. There are different signs and symptoms of having gynecomastia. Its presence is also affected by different factors that cause the levels of estrogen in the body to increase and testosterone levels in the body to decrease. Although this condition is not life-threatening, it can bring a negative impact on the confidence of the person who has it. Gynecomastia produces enlarged breasts, but not all breast enlargement in men can be considered as gynecomastia. Some are known as pseudogynecomastia. This can be differentiated with real gynecomastia through a physical exam and blood tests done by the doctor. Gynecomastia can also be treated in various ways such as hormone replacement therapy and surgery. Signs and symptoms of gynecomastia There are a few signs and symptoms related to gynecomastia. Aside from the appearance of having breasts instead of a flattened one, there can also be swelling of the breast gland tissue. This also adds to the size of the breasts. Aside from this, breast tenderness can also be felt. For those who already experience pain, swelling, tenderness and the presence of discharge on their breasts, it is best to see a doctor to find a remedy to their condition. Gynecomastia may appear transitionally in male newborns or those who are going through the puberty stage. Once their hormonal levels stabilize, the breast won’t continue to grow. Gynecomastia vs. pseudogynecomastia When male breasts are enlarged, it doesn’t always mean that it is due to gynecomastia. It is also possible that they have pseudogynecomastia instead. In gynecomastia, the enlargement of the breasts is due to the enlargement of the breast tissue as well as the breast glands. On the other hand, in pseudogynecomastia, the enlargement of the breast is due to fat alone. In people who are overweight, the fat cells increase in number and are enlarged, which is why the breasts appear to be bigger. Through diet and exercise, the fat cells can be burned and the enlarged breasts can flatten once again, but it is possible there will be sagging skin. Causes of gynecomastia Gynecomastia is not a life-threatening condition, which is why there is a lack of intensive research about what really causes it. It can also occur normally during several stages in life. The main reason why it occurs is due to the hormone estrogen. This hormone is considered a female hormone, and when increased, it can enlarge the breast gland tissues. When a male has a hormonal imbalance and there is more of the female hormone estrogen, gynecomastia can be observed. Newborns can possibly have gynecomastia because the estrogen hormone from the mother is still in their blood for some time after birth. Similarly, boys at the pubertal age can also develop gynecomastia because the body is still working on balancing out the hormones. If gynecomastia occurs during the newborn and pubertal stage, there is a high chance it will resolve on its own. The body just needs a couple of years to balance out the levels of hormones. If it doesn’t, then it is best to consult with a physician. Gynecomastia can also happen in older or aging men. This is also attributed to the shift in the hormone levels. Once a man ages, the level of testosterone decreases in the body. Age isn’t the only factor that affects the hormone levels in the body. Hormone levels can also be affected by various medications and diseases. Dangers of having gynecomastia Although gynecomastia is not a life-threatening condition, there are still dangers associated with it. It can negatively affect the person who has it emotionally, psychologically, and socially. Most of those who have gynecomastia may feel ashamed of their condition and won’t talk to their family or friends about it. Gynecomastia is a medical condition and those who have it can feel pressured or confused as to why they have it. It is important that they receive support and understanding from their family in order to help them go through their condition. This is especially true for teenagers who are experiencing it. Even adults can feel depressed about having this condition, but it is more important to consult with a doctor and even a psychologist to help out with the situation. Gynecomastia can negatively affect the confidence level of those who have them. It is enough to push them to isolate themselves because they don’t want to be noticed because of it. Diagnosing gynecomastia Whether you think you have gynecomastia or pseudogynecomastia, make sure you consult with your family doctor. They can help make the diagnosis and then think of treatment plans that are well-suited for each patient. The diagnosis of gynecomastia will usually involve physical and blood laboratory tests. In the physical diagnosis, the patient will be asked to lie down on their back with his hands clasped at the back of his head. The doctor will then lightly pinch the breast to try to find a rubbery disk-shaped mass under and around the nipples and areola. When this is absent, doctors may conclude that the patient has pseudogynecomastia. To confirm this, blood can be drawn from the patient and tested for specific hormones. Laboratory results will show an elevated level of estrogen and a lower level of testosterone in the blood for patients who have true gynecomastia. Treatments for gynecomastia Even if gynecomastia isn’t life-threatening, there are still many who try to find ways on how to treat it. Treatments should be made only under the supervision of doctors. For those who have gynecomastia during the pubertal stage, no treatment would be necessary because it typically goes away on its own after a couple of years. Some treatments for gynecomastia would include the following: – Use of gynecomastia shirts: Gynecomastia shirts are compression shirts that can be the first step in dealing with gynecomastia. It can be worn under the shirt to make it less obvious. It is not really a treatment for the condition but a way to make the condition less obvious. With it, the breasts are compressed to make them look flat. This is a good treatment for those who are very conscious about the size of their breast. This is good for teenagers who are concerned with the appearance of their breasts. – Hormone therapy: With gynecomastia, testosterone levels are lower than usual. Hormone therapy is an effective way to replace the testosterone that is lacking in men who have gynecomastia. There are also some medications used to prevent the formation of estrogen in the body. Older men who produce less testosterone can also undergo this kind of treatment. – Breast surgery: It is also possible to remedy gynecomastia through surgery. During surgery, the excess breast tissue can also be removed to decrease the size of the breast. It is a great way to shape the breast to a manlier figure, but patients should still make sure that they do something about the cause of their gynecomastia to prevent it from happening again. Prevention of gynecomastia Many people are afraid of surgery and are looking for other natural ways on how to treat gynecomastia. Big breast tissue cannot be reversed, but there are natural ways on how you can prevent the gynecomastia from worsening or happening in the first place. To do so, you first need to take a look at your diet. Foods may also contain estrogen and testosterone. You should limit your intake of estrogen-rich foods and instead consume foods that are rich in testosterone. Foods rich in estrogen include dried fruits, peas, beans, flax seeds, soybeans and many others. Similarly, men should take in testosterone-rich foods such as beef, pork, chicken, nuts, avocados, salmon, and many others. Conclusion Gynecomastia is a condition in men where the breasts grow in size. This can negatively affect the confidence of men. There are a few causes of having gynecomastia, but most of it is due to its effects on the different hormones, namely estrogen and testosterone. In some cases, the enlargement of the breasts is not really due to gynecomastia but other causes. This is known as pseudogynecomastia. In order to diagnose if the patient has true gynecomastia, doctors can perform a physical exam as well as a blood exam on the patient. Once it is diagnosed, doctors can help make a treatment plan that is suited for you.