While the female body is expected to be curved with larger breasts, breast tissue growth in men has generally considered an issue.
Male breasts are usually smaller. A lot of men also focus on exercises that help to provide a flat shape. This creates an increase in lean muscle tissue in the area.
Obesity is a significant problem that creates larger breasts in men. This, however, is not the only reason men may experience an enlargement of their breast tissue. A condition known as gynecomastia is behind this growth among many men.
There are several reasons for the development of gynecomastia. Men who experience an increase in breast tissue growth should consider the possibility of the condition. In such a case, understand treatment options can be helpful.
Those who are at higher risk may also want to look at methods to decrease their risk. We look at what exactly gynecomastia is in this post. We will also consider symptoms and natural preventative strategies.
What Is Gynecomastia?
Gynecomastia is a condition where male breast tissue becomes enlarged. This is sometimes caused by swelling that affects the breast tissue.
In other cases, breast tissue enlarged without the presence of swelling. The condition can cause adverse effects. It is often also considered a sign of an underlying health problem.
Medical experts have identified multiple potential reasons for gynecomastia to develop. It is a condition commonly associated with alterations in hormones. Estrogen is an important hormone noted among studies related to gynecomastia. This is the primary sex hormone for women. A small amount of the hormone is also needed in the male body.
In some cases, estrogen levels in men rise too high. This causes hormones to become unbalanced. When there is an imbalance between testosterone and estrogen, a similar effect may occur. High estrogen will not only lead to gynecomastia. There are other health issues that a man may develop too.
There are several reasons why men may develop gynecomastia. Obesity and excess weight in the body are the primary concerns here. The excess weight causes increased tissue and fat accumulation in the breasts. Large breasts with obesity do not, however, necessarily mean a man has gynecomastia.
There are other reasons for gynecomastia to develop in men as well. It is important for men to recognize all of the potential causes. This helps to filter down toward specific possibilities – and provides a faster approach to receiving treatment.
Apart from obesity, there are other reasons for gynecomastia to affect a male patient:
- Klinefelter Syndrome: Klinefelter syndrome condition that is known to have an impact on the production of testosterone in the body. When testosterone levels are naturally low, estrogen may rise in the process. This can cause an imbalance in hormones to develop.
- Hypogonadism: Apart from Klinefelter Syndrome, other conditions also leads to a reduction of testosterone in men. When a man has low testosterone due to a health problem, it is generally referred to as hypogonadism. Up to five million US men have hypogonadism.
- Aging: Another risk factor related to the development of gynecomastia is age. Older men are much more likely to experience a decline in testosterone. In most cases where hypogonadism is diagnosed, the patient is over 65 years of age. About 60% of men at this age will experience hypogonadism.
- Malnutrition: There are several reasons why men need to eat foods that are high in nutrition – including vitamins, minerals, proteins, and fats. The combination of these nutrients helps to keep the body healthy. Nutrients are also responsible for keeping hormones in check. When a man has a nutritional deficiency, testosterone may decline. Estrogen sometimes also increases.
Apart from these, several other possible causes exist. Men with kidney failure or liver failure, for example, are at a higher risk of developing gynecomastia.
Male patients who have experience cirrhosis of their liver may also be more likely to develop swelling in their breast tissue. Starvation can lead to an increase in the risk of malnutrition. In turn, the man may find that they develop hormonal imbalances.
Another vital cause behind enlarged breasts among male patients would be tumors. Breast cancer is most often associated with women. This often causes men to overlook the fact that these growths affect the male population too. Tumors in the breast can cause the tissue to become swollen. The tumor itself may also cause breast enlargement if it becomes more prominent.
What Are The Symptoms?
The most obvious symptom associated with gynecomastia would be visual changes in a man’s breasts. The breasts will generally appear larger than usual. It is important to recognize that there are some differentiating characteristics compared to breasts that are simply large due to obesity.
The breasts may appear swollen in some cases. The enlarged size, however, is not the only symptom that men may experience.
Some men have experienced discharge from the nipple. In many cases, only one nipple will have a discharge. There have been cases where both nipples produce a discharge too. Some men complain about tenderness.
The swelling in the breast tissue may cause this. Pain is also not uncommon in men with gynecomastia. The pain may affect the region around the nipple, as well as the breast tissue.
Due to the range of underlying conditions, other symptoms should be noted as well.
This brings us to underlying factors like hormonal imbalances. When there is an imbalance in testosterone and estrogen, accompanying symptoms may be experienced.
How Can You Naturally Prevent Gynecomastia?
When a man has gynecomastia, he may develop both physical and psychological complications. If it is not a serious problem, then physical complications will likely not be severe. This, however, does not mean the condition will not have an impact on the man.
Psychological problems are likely to develop in men with gynecomastia. This is mainly due to societal expectations placed on the male body. A patient with this condition may feel insecure about their body. This low body image may cause them to develop social anxiety and even depression.
With this in mind, men at risk need to consider appropriate preventative options that are available. There are ways to reduce the risks associated with the development of gynecomastia naturally. Men need to realize all of the options that are available to them. This allows the man to create a more effective preventative plan.
One of the very first factors a man needs to consider is their diet. What a man eats has a significant impact on his health. Not only can a man prevent gynecomastia, but he can also help to balance hormones in his body through the right diet adjustments.
This process starts by considering the current eating habits. Keeping a food journal is a useful way for a man to understand better what they eat.
A lot of times, a man would have a snack and forget about it. This makes tracking of daily foods and snacks consumed more difficult. Using a food journal or diary for just about a week can already provide valuable insight.
Some foods need to be cut from a man’s diet. These are the specific foods known to contribute to weight gain. Foods that are not high in nutrition should also ideally be avoided. They contribute to the daily caloric consumption but do not add any value to the man’s diet.
Here are a few foods known to cause excessive weight gain:
- Beverages sweetened with sugar.
- Processed meat products
- Deli meat
- Potato chips
- Coffee with sugar
- Ice cream
- Takeouts (pizza, burgers, fried fish)
- French fries
- Milk chocolate
At the same time, men need to avoid foods that have been found to reduce testosterone levels. To prevent gynecomastia, testosterone levels need to be maintained. If they become lower, estrogen levels may “take over.” This may lead to symptoms like enlarged breasts.
Some foods have estrogenic properties. If a man eats a lot of these foods, their testosterone levels may also decline. These are not necessarily unhealthy foods. They can, however, cause problems in men with existing hormonal imbalances.
Examples of such foods include:
- Soy products (soy milk, miso, tofu, and edamame)
- Vegetable oil
- Licorice root
It is generally not dangerous to eat these foods in moderation. Eating too much, however, can lead to testosterone levels declining.
- Egg yolks
- Low-fat milk products
Some fortified cereals also help to increase the intake of zinc and other related nutrients. This further contributes to a healthier and functional endocrine system.
Iodine is an essential element that can be found in some foods. Getting enough iodine is important – but at the same time, a person wants to ensure they do not take too much iodine. The thyroid gland is the only part of the body that utilizes iodine. Without iodine, the thyroid gland is not able to produce appropriate hormones.
Thyroid hormones affect various parts of the body. It is essential in the metabolism process. Men who take too little iodine may experience a condition known as hypothyroidism. This refers to a deficiency in thyroid hormones. The thyroid is unable to produce enough thyroxine and levothyroxine in this case.
When this happens, weight gain is sure to follow. The weight gain may lead to obesity. Gynecomastia is generally found to be more prevalent among obese men.
While increasing iodine is an option, talking to a doctor about this dietary change is important. Some men may not benefit from iodine. This is the case when there is nothing wrong with the function of the thyroid gland. In such a case, the excess intake of iodine can lead to hyperthyroidism. This is an overactive thyroid gland. It can cause a range of complications in the male body.
Alcohol is a common beverage choice among the male population. While in moderation, alcohol can be enjoyable, when a person takes too much alcohol, it starts to cause problems. Alcohol is essentially a depressant. It can suppress certain functions in the body.
It has also been found that alcohol may affect the secretion of certain hormones. The Leydig cells in the testicles are affected by excessive alcohol consumption. The use of alcohol in men has been associated with a reduction in sexual characteristics. It has also been associated with both infertility and erectile dysfunction.
There is a link between obesity and gynecomastia. People with a higher BMI than 25 are much more likely to experience this condition than those at a normal weight. The increased risk is about 80% of obese individuals.
With this in mind, obese men need to consider implementing strategies to reduce their excess weight.
Exercise and a healthy diet are both important. By cutting out fattening and unhealthy foods, “empty calories” are avoided. More nutrients go into the body, and the person gains the ability to burn fat faster.
Exercise further contributes to weight loss. It helps a person increase the number of calories they burn throughout the day. More calories burnt means it becomes easier to reach a caloric deficit. In such a case, weight loss is possible for an obese or overweight man.
When To See A Doctor
Learning how to prevent gynecomastia is important, but sometimes it cannot be avoided. In such a case, a man may consider strategies for male breast reduction. Gynecomastia, on its own, is generally not considered a serious condition.
Most men have a positive outcome with the condition, especially when appropriate steps are taken. The sooner treatment is initiated; however, the more successful it will be. It is also easier to prevent the condition instead of treating it later on, as we have already noted.
With this in mind, men should still consider the fact that underlying causes can be serious. There are times when a severe deficiency of testosterone, or an extremely high level of estrogen, causes breast enlargement in men. In these cases, failure to address the hormonal imbalance can wreak havoc on a man’s health.
It is generally advised that a man sees a doctor if he experienced an increase in breast tissue growth. This should be especially concerning if there was no recent weight gain.
If a man has signs that signal a lack of testosterone, they should also see a doctor. An example would be gynecomastia accompanied by erectile problems. This is a combination of symptoms that signals there might be an underlying problem like hypogonadism.
A lot of men tend to postpone a visit to a doctor. While it may be a sensitive matter to discuss, earlier detection of serious problems can help to provide a favorable prognosis. One example would be a tumor in the breast.
When identified while the tumor is still small, treatment may be less invasive. Spreading of the tumor’s cancer cells could also be avoided when breast cancer is treated during an earlier stage.
There are a few tests that doctors can use to understand why the man has gynecomastia. Blood tests are generally done. This helps the doctor determine if hormone levels are normal in the patient’s body. It also provides an opportunity to detect issues with the pituitary gland, testes, adrenal glands, and the thyroid gland. These are all parts of the endocrine system that contributes toward a testosterone and estrogen balance.
A mammogram may be advised as well. This helps a doctor examine the tissue within the man’s breast. It allows for the detection of tumors in the breast. Both cancerous and benign tumors can be identified using this method.
Additional tests that a doctor may conduct include:
- Testicular ultrasound
- MRI scan (Magnetic resonance imaging)
- CT scan (Computerized tomography)
If a doctor identifies a growth, they need to verify whether or not it is cancerous. In this case, the doctor will request a tissue biopsy to be collected. The tissue sample of the tumor is sent to a laboratory. Here, the lab scientists will examine the tissue sample. They will then provide their findings to the doctor.
If this is only a cosmetic issue, gynecomastia surgery may be advised. Male breast reduction surgery can assist in reducing the size of an enlarged breast. This may be important for men with man boobs.
Enlargement of breast tissue among men can be a concerning factor. Several risk factors can contribute to the development of this issue. Medically known as gynecomastia, this condition can be linked to severe underlying problems.
Understanding when a patient needs to see a doctor is important. This can help identify severe imbalances in hormones early on.