Gynaecomastia is a men's health condition that is characterised by the swelling of the breast tissue. The swelling can occur around one or both nipples and can be painful for some men. Those affected by this condition may often feel self-conscious about the prominence of their breast tissue, but the problem can usually be rectified with an appropriate treatment approach, which your doctor will communicate to you when the cause of your gynaecomastia has been established. Read on to learn about three common causes of this condition:
The body's endocrine system is delicately balanced, and while it's normal for men to produce small amounts of oestrogen, when oestrogen levels rise, it can trigger the growth of breast tissue. Testosterone levels are usually higher than oestrogen levels in men, and testosterone suppresses breast tissue growth, but it can't do this when oestrogen levels overtake testosterone and become the dominant sex hormone. The cause of a hormone imbalance can be difficult to establish, but thyroid problems can impact on hormone levels.
When men age, it's quite common for their testosterone levels to drop. Additionally, if they gain weight as they age, their oestrogen levels can rise. Some older men may attribute the growth in their breast tissue to their age and don't think anything else of it, but you don't just have to accept changes to your body as you age, and you should always report changes to your breast tissue to your doctor, as men can also get breast cancer.
Your breast tissue can increase in proportion to the increase in tissue mass across the rest of your body when you gain weight. However, being obese can also cause your oestrogen levels to increase. If you lose some weight but your excess breast tissue is not reducing, you should have your oestrogen levels checked by your doctor.
Gynaecomastia is typically treated with hormone balancing medication or surgery to remove excess tissue. Depending on the cause of your gynaecomastia, you may need a course of synthetic hormones or you may need to take them for the rest of your life. Surgery may be appropriate when your hormones are balanced but your breast tissue does not reduce on its own after treatment with drugs.
If you've experienced sudden breast tissue growth, schedule an appointment with your doctor. They will carry out a breast exam and take some blood samples to establish what's causing the tissue to grow. They can also provide additional information regarding men's health.