What Exactly are Man Boobs?

Man boobs, medically known as gynecomastia, is the enlargement of the male breast gland due to a hormone imbalance of oestrogen and testosterone. However, in some cases man boobs are actually excess fat deposits in the chest, medically referred to as pseudogynecomastia. Man boobs are a fairly common, yet temporary, characteristic of boys going through puberty, new-borns and older men due to fluctuations in hormone levels. Gynecomastia can affect one or both breast and sometimes unevenly. While man boobs don’t pose any threat to a man’s health, they can cause discomfort and embarrassment. For true gynecomastia to be treated, it may involve medication or even surgery.

What causes Man boobs?

Gynecomastia can have multiple possible causes. Ultimately though, man boobs occur when there is a decreased amount of the hormone testosterone in comparison with oestrogen levels. There are several things that can cause this hormone imbalance including natural hormone changes, certain medication, narcotics, alcohol, certain herbal products, and health conditions.

Natural hormone changes are a major cause of man boobs. The hormones testosterone and oestrogen control both the development and maintenance of the sex characteristics of males and females. As such, testosterone controls the male traits of muscle mass and body hair for example. While oestrogen controls female traits, like growing breasts. As such, when males have too much oestrogen they develop man boobs.

How are Man Boobs diagnosed?

The most obvious symptom of gynecomastia is the enlargement of the male breasts. Gynecomastia is an enlargement of the glandular tissue and not the fatty tissue. Tenderness and sensitivity may both be present, but there is usually no severe pain. The most important difference to make is that gynecomastia isn’t confused with male breast cancer. Cancer is usually hard and firm, and confined to one breast. Gynecomastia on the other hand is stretchy feeling and centred evenly around the nipple, while cancer is not necessarily centred around the nipple. Cancer can also be accompanied with nipple discharge, retraction of the nipple, dimpling of the skin, and enlargement of the lymph nodes in the underarm.

Other conditions that cause similar symptoms to gynecomastia are fatty breast tissue and a breast abscess. Your doctor will want to be sure that the swelling of the breast tissue is indeed gynecomastia and not breast cancer, a breast abscess or fatty breast tissue, before recommending treatment.

At your doctors appointment, you will be asked questions about your medical and drug history, as well as what health conditions run in your family. Your doctor will also have to do a careful physical examination including evaluation of your breast tissue, genitals and abdomen to eliminate all other possible conditions that it could be. If you do have gynecomastia you will be asked to have blood tests and/or a mammogram so as to determine the cause of the condition.

Once all these test results come back, you may also need more testing. Further testing that you may be instructed to have includes a tissue biopsy, magnetic (MRI) resonance imaging scans, computerized tomography (CT) scans, or testicular ultrasounds. While these tests may be uncomfortable, it is important to have them so that your condition can be correctly diagnosed and treated.


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