• Gynecomastia

    Definition

    Gynecomastia is an enlargement of the breasts in men. This condition is not the same as having a fatty breast area from obesity. The breast tissue is firm in men with gynecomastia.
    This may occur in up to one-third of men. About 65% of boys will develop some degree of breast enlargement during puberty. This is normal and usually goes away by age 18.
    Gynecomastia
    si55551142 96472 1
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

    Causes

    All men produce male and female hormones. Normally men produce much more male hormones than female hormones. Gynecomastia is caused by an imbalance in the female and male hormones. The hormone imbalance can be caused by:
    • Adolescent puberty changes
    • Aging, especially in association with low testosterone levels
    • Certain genetic disorders causing low levels of testosterone
    • Certain medications, such as digoxin (a heart medication), spironolactone (a diuretic), cimetidine (a medication for stomach conditions), and many others
    • Anabolic steroids used to enhance athletic performance in sports
    • Marijuana use
    • Liver or kidney failure
    • Chronic kidney disease
    • Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid gland)
    • Tumors of the testicles, lung, stomach, liver, kidney, or pituitary gland

    Risk Factors

    Factors that increase your chance of getting gynecomastia include:
    • Age: adolescent or over 50
    • Obesity
    • Excess alcohol consumption leading to liver cirrhosis
    • Chronic liver or kidney disease
    • Presence of a condition or medication that decreases androgen or estrogen production
    • Family history

    Symptoms

    Symptoms of gynecomastia include:
    • Enlargement of the breasts with firm tissue, usually on both sides
    • Tenderness

    Diagnosis

    Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. You may be referred to a doctor who specializes in hormone disorders.
    Your doctor will be especially interested in other symptoms you have. You will also be asked about any medications you use. Your doctor will focus on your weight, breast exam, testicular exam, and any other signs of a hormone problem.
    Other tests may be done if you have prolonged or large gynecomastia. Diagnostic tests may include:
    • Blood sample—to check the function of your liver, thyroid, and kidneys, as well as other hormone levels
    • Ultrasound—a test that uses sound waves to examine the breasts
    • CT scan—a type of x-ray that uses a computer to make pictures of the breasts
    • Biopsy—a sample of breast tissue may be removed and evaluated

    Treatment

    Treatment for gynecomastia is rarely needed. However, it is important to find and treat the underlying cause of the gynecomastia. If a medication is causing gynecomastia, your doctor will ask you to stop taking it or switch medication. If a tumor is causing the problem, your doctor will make a treatment plan for the tumor.
    Medications may be needed to treat the gynecomastia. However, they can produce unwanted side effects. Surgery may also be used to remove breast tissue.

    Prevention

    Some gynecomastia may be prevented by avoiding known risk factors. This included avoiding excessive alcohol consumption, avoiding steroids, and refraining from marijuana.

    RESOURCES

    American Academy of Family Physicians http://familydoctor.org

    American Academy of Pediatrics http://www.healthychildren.org

    CANADIAN RESOURCES

    Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/index%5Fe.html

    Men's Health Centre http://www.menshealthcentre.net/index.htm

    References

    Gynecomastia. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php. Updated July 2009. Accessed August 17, 2012.

    Gynecomastia: when breasts form in males. American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/online/famdocen/home/men/general/080.html. Updated February 2009. Accessed August 17, 2012.

    Johnson RE, Kermott CA, Murad MH. Gynecomastia: evaluation and current treatment options. Ther Clin Risk Manag. 2011;7:145-148.

    Wollina U, Goldman A. Minimally invasive esthetic procedures of the male breast. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2011 Jun;10(2):150-155.

    Revision Information

  • Join WellZones today.

    Make a Change For LifeLearn more

    Wellmont LiveWell is creating a new tradition of wellness in the mountains by providing individuals with tools and encouragement to live healthier lifestyles.

  • HeartSHAPE Spotlight

    At risk for a heart attack? Learn more

    Fight heart disease early and prevent heart attacks with HeartSHAPE® - a painless, non-invasive test that takes pictures of your heart to scan for early-stage coronary disease.

  • Calories and Energy Needs

    Calorie NeedsLearn more

    How many calories do you need to eat each day to maintain your weight and fuel your physical activity? Enter a few of your stats into this calculator to find out.

  • Ideal Body Weight

    Ideal Body WeightLearn more

    Using body mass index as a reference, this calculator determines your ideal body weight range. All you need to do is enter your height.

  • Body Mass Index

    Body Mass IndexLearn more

    This tool considers your height and weight to assess your weight status.


  • Can we help answer your questions?

    Wellmont Nurse Connection is your resource for valuable health information any time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Speak to a Nurse any time, day or night, at (423) 723-6877 or toll-free at 1-877-230-NURSE.