Gynaecomastia is the medical term given for swelling of breast tissue in men. The word “Gynae” denotes woman and “mastos” indicates breast in Greek. Some men may form firm glands and breast tissue during adolescence. The development of breast tissue in men can be due to many factors like intake of certain medications, hormonal imbalance and many other factors. Gynaecomastia can be treated only after finding the underlying cause and several options of treatments are available.
How far it is prevalent?
One out of 3 men may develop symptoms of gynaecomastia at least some point of their life. Often it goes unnoticed and development of breast tissue can occur even in neonates and old aged men. Certain degree of symptoms is observed in many teenage boys and often the symptom gets resolved without any treatment.
The size of development of breast tissue may vary from small gland to large sized breast tissue like that of female breast. Similarly gynaecomastia can develop either in one of the breasts or both. For some men the breast can become tender and painful due to enlargement of breast tissue.
The root cause of gynaecomastia :
- Physiological Causes :
Neonates or newborns can develop symptoms of enlarged breast tissue due to increased level of maternal estrogen. But this condition would resolve in few weeks. During adolescence many boys develop enlarged breast tissue due to hormonal changes and for most of them it gets resolved within a year or two. This condition can occur due to delay in the onset of testosterone and increased levels of estrogen during puberty. Old aged men can develop symptoms of gynaecomastia due to reduced levels of testosterone.
- Pathological Causes :
There are many reasons under this category which gives rise to formation of breast tissue in men. Complete lack of hormone testosterone can cause gynaecomastia in men. Some men may have this problem by birth and testosterone levels are either totally absent or very low when compared with other hormones and such men will develop severe symptoms.
Men born with Klinefelter syndrome would develop gynaecomastia symptoms for sure. They are at high risk of developing breast cancer in life and needs to be monitored closely. Certain medical conditions like renal disease, dialysis, viral orchitis and castration can cause gynaecomastia.
Increase in the secretion of estrogen can also cause symptoms of developed breast tissue in men. Certain problems like testicular tumor, renal cell carcinomas, gastric carcinomas, adrenal tumors, liver cirrhosis and malnourishment, hyperthyroidism, stress, obesity and gene mutation of aromatase syndrome can cause increased secretion of estrogen leading to gynaecomastia. About 80% of the reported cases of gynaecomastia belong to this category with increased production of estrogen.
- Drug Interaction :
Taking medication that induces estrogen secretion can cause gynaecomastia. Using herbal products that contain estrogen, taking medicines like digoxin, ketoconazole and metronidazole that inhibits the secretion of testosterone, and prolonged intake of proton pump inhibitors and medications like cyproterone and flutamide and taking drugs belonging to antipsychotic category can increase prolactin levels causing gynaecomastia. Certain health problems like diabetes and spinal cord problems can trigger symptoms.
Tests and Diagnosis :
Your doctor will look for the symptoms of breast enlargement to identify gynaecomastia. He would collect complete medical history of the patient along with his family history. He may order for series of tests like blood profile and other tests like liver function test, renal function and complete hormone profile to find out the causative factor.
He would check for reduced testosterone function by examining the body carefully. Further he may order for ultrasonogram of breasts and testes to rule out any abnormality. In rare cases, biopsy of the tissue sample is done to check for the presence of cancerous growth.
Treatment for gynaecomastia depends on the underlying cause of the problem. If the intake of drugs is causing the symptoms then your doctor will give suitable alternative medications. In case of hormonal imbalance or lack of androgen, you will be given androgen replacement therapy. Most of the cases developing during adolescence will get resolved in few years and hence no treatment is needed. Some cases are idiopathic with no obvious cause for the problem.
Medications like Tamoxifen and danazol are prescribed for managing symptoms of gynaecomastia which acts by reducing the levels of estrogen. Surgery is the last choice of treatment which is done either by liposuction of the underlying breast tissue or complete mastectomy. But it can cause complications like nipple inversion, scarring and lack of sensation in the area. And for some men breast tissue can recur after few months. Hence surgery is done only if the symptoms are affecting the quality of your life and no medications are useful in reducing the symptoms.
Pictures of Gynecomastia :
Images, Pics, Pictures and Photos of Gynecomastia
The condition of gynaecomastia is harmless and can be resolved by detecting the underlying cause. Treatment is highly effective if taken in early stages even before the development of breast tissue. You should understand that you are not alone undergoing this distress and millions of men are facing the same issue worldwide.