These days, the concept of masculinity is a lot more fluid. However, despite the blurred lines of traditional gender prejudice, one prevalent condition still provokes emasculating stigmatism, leaving men ashamed and embarrassed. Here’s how to keep abreast of male gynecomastia (man boobs).
Aspiring for a masculine physique can take many guises, from gym-honed chiseled torsos to an ode-to-the-seventies hairy chest and a dad bod. All are deemed socially acceptable, even idolized, as the body positivity movement elicits a more tolerant dogma surrounding body image. One ubiquitous condition, however, still stirs feelings of shame amongst men who fear looking unhealthy and effeminate.
Trying to banish man boobs can leave many men feeling stressed as their efforts continue to yield no results. But it’s important to remember that male gynecomastia – also known as male breasts – isn’t uncommon, and up to 30% of boys, teenagers, and men suffer from this condition in their lifetime.
Male gynecomastia can be reversed, with treatment varying depending on the condition’s specific cause, meaning there is hope for those who want to regain control of their masculine image.
What is Male Gynecomastia?
Gynecomastia is a medical condition prevalent across the globe. It causes male breasts to swell and become more prominent than average, giving the chest a more feminine appearance. In addition to the swelling, the breast tissue can become tender and sore to the touch.
Gynecomastia aside, the other cause of man boobs is excess body fat over the breast tissue, which can be caused by being overweight and having a high body fat percentage.
When there is too much fat around the breast area, the condition isn’t gynecomastia but the tissue underneath the fat layer. That said, having excess fat can make gynecomastia appear more pronounced, and one of the best ways to lessen the severity is to try and reduce that layer of fat.
The signs of gynecomastia can vary drastically; it can appear as a small amount of extra tissue around the nipple or as more prominent breasts. The issue isn’t always symmetrical and can affect one or both of your pectorals.
The Causes of Moobs
Although various factors can cause Gynecomastia, the root of all these issues is that they drive a hormone imbalance between your testosterone and estrogen levels. For example, males typically produce a small amount of estrogen, but their testosterone levels will usually be much higher, preventing the hormone from affecting your body and causing any changes.
If a hormonal imbalance occurs in males, their bodies produce more estrogen than testosterone and may cause male breasts to develop. Some of the most common potential causes of this include:
Being excessively overweight or obese is a common culprit of gynecomastia. It causes hormonal changes, often resulting in increased estrogen levels. This boost in estrogen can cause breast tissue to grow and swell, exacerbating the appearance of man moobs.
In addition, obesity can make gynecomastia symptoms worse because you’re also likely to have more excess chest fat, which increases the mass around this area, making male breasts grow more prominent.
As men age, they naturally produce less testosterone; if they make too little, their estrogen levels may cause gynecomastia symptoms to prevent themselves.
In addition, older males are likely to have more body fat, which can produce an increased estrogen level, driving excess breast tissue growth.
3. Steroid Use
Certain steroids can throw off the hormonal stability inside your body, which may increase estrogen that, in turn, causes breast tissue to grow. This issue is most common when using anabolic steroids, as this medication converts into estrogen within the body.
Gynecomastia caused by steroid use can affect athletes and recreational gym-goers alike, who use the product to improve their athletic performance and aesthetic appearance. Medically prescribed steroids to help with a medical condition can also produce the same unwanted side effects.
Despite testosterone being the primary hormone required to prevent gynecomastia, if you’re receiving TRT (Testosterone Replacement Therapy) to help combat low testosterone levels, you are at risk of developing gynecomastia.
There are also plenty of other potential side effects of this treatment, so it’s crucial to thoroughly research replacement therapy before committing to it.
Some medication prescriptions can cause gynecomastia as an unwelcome side effect. Prescribed steroids, some heart disease medications, and other anti-ulcer drugs can cause breast tissue to grow, resulting in man boobs.
Male gynecomastia can also be a side effect of many other types of medication to treat things like:
- Medicine for mental health issues like anxiety and depression
- Bacterial and fungal infection medicine
- Treatments for an enlarged prostate
- Heartburn and peptic ulcers medicine
- Medicine for high blood pressure
- HGC medicine for male infertility
In addition to medicine, various types of substance abuse can cause man boobs, such as taking methadone or cannabis and drinking excessive amounts of alcohol regularly.
6. Kidney or Liver Disease
If you have issues with your kidneys or liver, this can also cause changes to your hormone homeostasis, as these organs won’t be as effective in regulating internal chemicals.
Kidney or liver disease caused by excess alcohol consumption can also cause an increase in breast tissue as alcohol inhibits your body’s ability to produce testosterone.
Sometimes, growth within your breast tissue may result from something more sinister. Although breast cancer is less common in males, it’s still possible, so a health professional must inspect any sudden breast growth.
Tumors can also cause gynecomastia in other areas of your body. For example, if you have cancer in your testes, adrenal or pituitary glands, the hormones produced can alter your testosterone/estrogen balance.
How to get rid of man boobs
Fear not, because gynecomastia can often be treated effectively, with many options available depending on what has caused your breast tissue to increase.
If your man boobs result from an increase in weight, the most productive strategy you can implement is dropping body fat by incorporating a diet and fitness regime to help you get in better shape. However, it’s important to remember that there’s no such thing as targeted weight loss.
Many guys will be tempted to go all-out on international chest day in the battle of the boobs, but it won’t be more effective at reducing gynecomastia than cardio. Upper body workouts focusing on your pectorals and chest muscles will help the muscle behind the fat get more robust. Still, weight loss is the best way to combat obesity-caused gynecomastia.
If an age-related drop in testosterone is the culprit, you are more limited in treatment options. Trying to lose weight to remove as much fat around your breast tissue can help reduce the appearance of man boobs, but apart from that, you may need to turn to supplements or medication which can increase your T levels.
If you have developed male gynecomastia due to steroid usage, the best way to tackle the symptoms is to stop administering your stack. Consider replacing the steroids you use with a brand or type not associated with gynecomastia development, or cease using steroids altogether. Once you do this, your breast tissue should decrease in size.
Specific medication is available for those undergoing HRT therapy to help counteract moob formation. Suppose other forms of treatment, such as particular medicines, drive the increased growth of your breast tissue. In that case, you may be able to substitute or omit using the medication, subject to consulting a doctor’s advice before doing this so that you’re doing the right thing for your situation.
Finally, for those who have developed gynecomastia due to liver or kidney issues or a tumor, treating the underlying medical condition should help alleviate gynecomastia.
In many cases, gynecomastia can resolve itself over time without needing treatment if you remove the source of the hormone imbalance. However, if your woes with male boobs aren’t subsiding, there are two main ways to treat it.
1. Gynecomastia Surgery
If an increase in your male breast tissue is significant and is causing pain or other issues, then a doctor may advise surgery to remove the problem and improve the appearance of your chest.
There are two options available for gynecomastia surgery, both of which are invasive procedures and should not be undertaken lightly:
Liposuction removes excess fat from the body and helps to reduce the appearance of enlarged male breasts as a result. Liposuction uses a medical vacuum that sucks out and removes fat. It can be a highly effective treatment if your gynecomastia appears worse due to a significant layer of fat. This surgery will not affect the breast gland tissue itself, though.
This procedure permanently removes the breast tissue gland from your breasts, thus instantly decreasing the size of your breast. Not only does this provide immediate results, but it can also prevent you from developing gynecomastia again, as you no longer have breast tissue that can grow larger.
This surgery makes small incisions into the body to reduce the required recovery time.
2. Gynecomastia Medication
If you don’t want to surrender to the surgeon’s scalpel, you can treat gynecomastia with medication that helps to improve your hormone balance. Some commonly prescribed drugs include Danazol, Tamoxifen, and sometimes in specific situations, Aromatase inhibitors if your doctor feels they are best suited for you.
If you take any of these drugs, you will need to be monitored regularly by a doctor, and you will likely only receive a course that lasts three months. In addition to this medication, sometimes drugs used to treat breast cancer in women can also be effective.
Your healthcare does not usually cover surgery, so you may have to get treated privately.
Banish Your Man Boobs
First and foremost, if you’re suffering from male gynecomastia, know that you are not alone. It’s important not to feel disheartened and acknowledge that many men suffer. Many treatments available can help remove the appearance of gynecomastia and help you achieve your physique goals.
The best way to treat gynecomastia is to figure out what is causing the hormone imbalance that resulted in breast tissue growth in the first place. If excess weight or aging is the precursor to your symptoms, implementing a healthy diet and exercising can help improve your testosterone levels and help you shift excess breast fat, which may have made the condition appear worse.
If your gynecomastia is due to steroid usage, swapping to a different type or stopping it altogether should also help it subside.
It’s important not to let gynecomastia go undiagnosed, as it’s essential to rule out tumors and liver or kidney disease as potential causes. Plus, after diagnosis, you may be able to get specific medication or surgery to help you tackle your mortifying moob trouble once and for all.
Gynecomastia can be embarrassing for many men, affecting their appearance and self-image. However, it’s vital to remember that it’s nothing to be ashamed of and can be resolved if you follow the proper steps and better understand what’s causing the problem in the first place.