Gynecomastia is the benign enlargement of breast tissues in men. It is surprising to know that Gynaecomastia is common and affects around 40 to 50% of males. Breast growth has been observed to be a problem in many men at some point of their lives. New born males, young boys of teenage as well as middle aged and older men are known to have gynaecomastia. Gynaecomastia is so common that hundreds of cases of gynecomastia get unnoticed and in many instances, men are not even aware that they have it.
In gynaecomastia, the glandular tissue of the breast becomes enlarged in boys or men. This can sometimes cause discomfort or nipple tenderness. Gynaecomastia usually occurs as the result of a hormonal imbalance typically during infancy, adolescence or mid to late life. It is general understanding that androgens such as testosterone are “male hormones” and oestrogens are “female hormones,” but the fact is that people of both sexes produce both types of hormones. Androgens are the predominant hormone in males, but they produce small amounts of oestrogen as well. With an increased production or presence of oestrogen or decrease in androgens, the balance may shift and can cause gynaecomastia. The hormonal balance could be as expected for the age or caused by drugs and underlying health conditions.
Is gynaecomastia common in infants ?
Gynecomastia is common in infancy, with an estimate of about 60 to 90% of infants having transient gynecomastia, which means more than half of new born males develop enlarged breasts. This has been attributed to the high estrogenic milieu of pregnancy. New born boys are prone to be under the effects of the oestrogen they received from their mothers while growing in the womb. This enlargement usually goes away within two to three weeks after birth. Male infants also have a “mini-puberty” where adult serum concentrations of gonadotropins are present of which transient rise of serum oestradiol is more than serum testosterone concentrations. After delivery, gynecomastia regresses in two to three weeks.
Gynaecomastia in adolescence is highly common
Gynaecomastia is common in adolescence at the rate of up to 70 percent of boys in early to mid-puberty experiencing it. The condition may start developing in early ages between ages 10 and 12 years and more commonly seen in the age group 13 to 14 years. This occurs as a result of the normal hormonal changes where hormone levels are always varying and unstable. Breast enlargement during these years may go away in six months of time or last up to two years after the start of puberty. Pubertal gynecomastia is often seen to resolve on its own, but in about 20% of individuals, the condition persists beyond 17 years of age and continue into adulthood. It is advisable to watch for changes in breast size of the individual for several months. In most adolescents, pubertal gynecomastia resolves during that time. However, if the breast enlargement causes substantial tenderness, discomfort or embarrassment, the adolescent could seek gynaecomastia treatment in Chennai.
Gynecomastia in young boys is common also because it has been associated with regular use of skin care products such as lotions, soaps and shampoos that contain tea tree oil and lavender oil. These oils are high in plant oestrogens that can affect the body’s hormonal balance. Gynecomastia usually resolves completely after stopping use of these products.
Gynaecomastia in adult and older men is fairly common
Among middle-aged and older men, a population of up to 65% of men are affected by gynaecomastia. The prevalence of gynecomastia in older men peaks from the age of 50 to 80 years. At least 1 in 2 men in this age group are prone to be affected by gynaecomastia. They are mostly because of unknown causes where it is not always clear what causes gynecomastia during mid to late life known as idiopathic gynaecomastia. Blood testosterone levels tend to decline and the hormonal balance shifts to higher amounts of oestrogen-to-testosterone ratio, as men grow older. Such hormonal factors could probably work together negatively to cause “idiopathic” gynecomastia in most cases of men.
Gynecomastia can be caused by several health conditions commonly seen in older men and that can affect the normal balance of hormones. Such conditions include overweight or obesity, hyperthyroidism, liver diseases, hypogonadism, tumours and kidney failure where almost half the population undergoing dialysis experience gynaecomastia. Inadequate nutrition can cause testosterone levels to drop while oestrogen levels remain the same, causing a hormonal imbalance leading to gynaecomastia.
During older age about one-third of men are known to develop gynecomastia. The incidence of gynaecomastia in adult men could also be common because certain medicines that are used to treat heart failure, high blood pressure, fungal infections, heart burn and stomach ulcers are known to cause breast enlargement. If gynecomastia is caused by one of the medications, it may be recommended to stop using that drug and get replaced with another drug that has less chances of causing the condition. Gynecomastia is seen common in older men too as it occurs in up to 75 percent of men who take antiandrogens as drugs to treat prostate cancer. It may not be possible to stop or substitute their prostate cancer treatment, but steps to prevent gynecomastia is possible as part of gynaecomastia treatment in Chennai.
Gynaecomastia is also associated with combination treatment for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). This treatment termed as highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) can more widely cause side effects of breast enlargement only due to fat redistribution. Though, true gynecomastia has been reported in some men taking HAART.
The reason for gynaecomastia to be accepted as highly common in general may be because of the many factors that contribute to it, occurs at any age, resolves on its own and there is nothing to worry about from a medical standpoint. Though gynecomastia has few physical complications, psychological or emotional problems caused by appearance of enlarged breasts can be overcome by appropriate gynaecomastia treatment in Chennai.