What is Gynecomastia

Gynecomastia (Man Boobs)

What is Gynecomastia?

Gynecomastia is a medical term that refers to an abnormal enlargement of the breast tissues in males.  It is called “man boobs” in layman’s term. The term gynecomastia comes from Gyne, a Greek word which means woman, and mastos, a Greek word for breast.

Normally, the breast tissue in males is less than 1 ½ inches, which is located under the nipple. In the case of gynecomastia, the breast tissues are present on one or both sides of the nipple, making the breast tender.  Also, excess fatty tissues develop and are deposited in the chest area.  The excess fats cause the area of the breast to appear puffy, bloated and swollen.  In some cases, a gynecomastia can be accompanied by secretion of milk.

Who usually develop gynecomastia?

Breast enlargement in males is almost always a result from an imbalance in the hormones which causes the breast tissues to grow and swell. It can be that the male hormone, the testosterone is abnormally low, or the female hormone, which is the estrogen, is abnormally high. This imbalance in the hormone can be a result of several factors. For instance in newborns, they can exhibit the condition due to high levels of estrogen that they acquire from the breast milk of the mother. Gynecomastia in newborns disappears in two to three weeks after birth.  It is not permanent and is not a health concern.  

There are two types of gynecomastia.  For more information  visit:

Pseudo-Gynecomastia vs. Gynecomastia: What is the difference?

Gynecomastia is common among adolescent boys, a condition known as pubertal gynecomastia. In 90% of the cases, the symptoms just disappear in a couple of months.  However, for the remaining some, they suffer from the condition in a matter of years and may find it difficult to resolve the issue without medical interventions. How man boobs affect self-esteemis going to differ from boy to boy, but it can be very hard to deal with.  Boys between ages twelve to fourteen experience some levels of pubertal gynecomastia as the levels of their hormones adjust. It is a normal process as their body chemistry changes. When the condition occurs towards the end of the puberty period, it is already called adolescent gynecomastia. Adult males can also experience gynecomastia.

What does gynecomastia indicate?

Moderate gynecomastia is normal, but when the condition is severe, it may indicate some underlying health conditions that can be dangerous.  It can indicate the presence of hyperthyroidism, which is a disorder that involves hyperactivity of the thyroid gland. Other known conditions are cancer of the liver, lungs or glands, such as the testicles, pituitary gland and adrenal glands.

Adult gynecomastia can also indicate drug side effect. Steroidal medications, such as prednisone and hexadrol, can be what causes gynecomastia temporarily in males, as the breast tissue will swell. Athletes who abuse steroids may also experience swelling of their breast tissues. Other medications that have this side effect are medications for ulcer, epilepsy, cardio, chemotherapy drugs, antidepressant and anti-anxiety medications.

Gynecomastia can be a very embarrassing condition.  There are a few treatment options for gynecomastia.  People can manage the condition by using hormone therapy with the physician’s advice.  If it is caused by medications, they should be discontinued or a shift in medication may become necessary. If all else fail, the physician may recommend a cosmetic surgery to remove the excess mass in the chest that caused the breast to enlarge.