What is gynecomastia?

Gynecomastia is a condition in which above average amounts of firm breast tissue form in males. The breast tissue is usually less than 2 inches across and is located directly under either one nipple or both nipples.

What causes the condition?

In males, hormones are produced in the testicles which are responsible for the physical changes that begin to take place during puberty. Male’s hormones mostly contain androgens in their body, but they do however, also have small amounts of estrogen. In women, breast development is caused by higher levels of estrogen. Within puberty, a male’s production of androgens increases drastically, whereas estrogen production normally remains low. There are times however, when guys produce enough estrogen during puberty usually resulting with some breast development.

In rare cases, gynecomastia can be caused by prescription drugs, over-the-counter medicines, illegal drugs (such as marijuana and steroids) or tumors. Gynecomastia can also be caused by certain genetic disorders and conditions such as Klinefelter Syndrome.

How common is the condition?

Gynecomastia is not unusual or abnormal in adolescent boys. Temporary breast enlargement often happens during adolescence when there are hormonal changes.
It is suggested that about half of all males ages 12-16 who are going through puberty experience some form of gynecomastia in one or both breasts. Gynecomastia is usually a temporary condition, and it is quite abnormal for the breasts to stay developed, eventually flattening out completely within a few months to a few of years. Since it usually goes away on its own, typically no medical treatment or surgery is needed.

Can this condition be prevented?

Due to the fact that gynecomastia occurs naturally in the body during puberty, no known method can prevent it. Talking to your child about illegal drug use can help deter the use, and therefore the development of gynecomastia. A healthy lifestyle with diet, exercises and gynecomastia pills may also affect the development of the breast.

What symptoms are associated with the condition?

Gynecomastia is not physically harmful, although it can occasionally indicate more serious underlying conditions. Occasionally, males with gynecomastia experience tenderness that can be treated with medications. Males with gynecomastia usually experience psychological and social issues rather than physical problems.