Last Updated: October 26, 2023
Man boobs. Moobs. Bitch tits.
We’ve all heard the embarrassing names used to make fun of guys with chests more feminine than masculine, but if you’re someone who’s experienced this personally you know that it’s anything but funny.
Gynecomastia is a surprisingly common condition where a male’s breasts swell and become abnormally large. Most of the time the problem occurs with newborns, during puberty, and with older men.
True gynecomastia isn’t something that’s a result of being overweight or having extra fat in the nipple area (called pseudogynecomastia). It’s literally an increase of breast tissue, which means that losing weight, exercising, or working out may have little, if any, effect on it.
Generally, gynecomastia doesn’t pose any serious health issues, although sometimes pain or soreness may be experienced with it. The main harm comes from the embarrassment, lack of confidence, and negative self-image it can cause.
There has been at least one study demonstrating the negative impact this condition has on self-esteem and overall emotional health of those afflicted. These adverse results can affect many areas, including eating behavior, social functioning, and overall health.
Symptoms of Gynecomastia
The following signs may be noted in either or both breasts:
- Swelling of the breast gland tissue.
- Soreness or tenderness of the breast.
- An increase in the size of the nipple area, or there is an unevenness in the breast tissue.
If you experience a persistent or unusual amount of pain, swelling, or nipple discharge, make an appointment with your doctor for a check-up.
There can be many possible causes for gynecomastia, but the most common is due to a hormonal imbalance in the amount of testosterone and estrogen present in the body. Having estrogen levels that are too high relative to testosterone can cause breast tissue growth.
I was surprised to learn that this imbalance is very common in newborns. About half of all baby boys are born with enlarged breasts due to high estrogen levels carried over from the mother.
However, within a few weeks the hormone levels stabilize, and the breast tissue is reduced to normal size.
Hormonal imbalance is also common during puberty, which is why more than 50% of boys will experience at least some form of gynecomastia during puberty. The good news is that the breast tissue in most cases usually returns to normal within a year’s time.
For men heading into middle- and old-age, gynecomastia can appear because of lowered testosterone production. Since older guys also are prone to being more overweight, this can have a doubly negative effect, since it’s been shown that overweight men produce more estrogen.
Other causes can include:
- Illnesses of the kidneys, liver, thyroid or testicles.
- Drug/alcohol abuse.
- Klinefelter’s syndrome.
- Certain prescription drugs.
- Anabolic steroid use.
- Tea tree oil and lavender products.
There is even evidence that drinking beer may cause gynecomastia.
Luckily,most of the causes of gynecomastia listed above are only temporary, and in most cases symptoms will resolve on their own in time, or once the underlying cause is addressed.
However, if you experience symptoms that persist, there are several options available that you can try.
One effective (but expensive) treatment is surgery. This may involve either liposuction or excision (mastectomy), or both. Surgical treatment of gynecomastia will result in a scar around the edge of the nipple and cause extensive bruising and swelling, requiring several weeks of recovery time.
It is also a costly procedure, resulting in several thousands of dollars in medical bills.
There are prescription alternatives available, namely: Tamoxifen (anti-estrogen drug), aromatase inhibitors, and testosterone replacement therapy. These treatments have varying degrees of success, but of course you would need to consult with a physician in order to determine which might be right for you and to obtain a prescription.
In recent years there have been several over-the-counter supplements for gynecomastia treatment, including popular breast reduction pills like:
I know, confusingly similar names, right? These products generally contain natural ingredients, don’t require any prescription, and are easy to buy online.
If the gynecomastia is due to low testosterone production, then taking a top-rated testosterone booster is also a great way to help reverse the condition, and enhance other aspects of your overall health as well.
There are at least a few exercise programs online specifically geared toward gynecomastia treatment, such as the How to Lose Man Boobs Naturally program.
How well these programs work may depend largely on which type of gynecomastia you’re experiencing, as well it’s primary cause.
Mark McIntyre is the founder of MaleHealthReview.com and acts as it’s chief contributor. He is a fitness trainer and avid mountain biker who also enjoys camping, hiking and fishing. Besides managing Male Health Review, Mark is also a guest columnist for several blogs related to men’s health. More about this author…