What Causes Gynecomastia?
Gynecomastia is a condition that causes a great deal of emotional stress for men because of the impact that it has on their physical appearance. Some men develop enlarged male breast tissue and puffy nipples. Hence it's nickname, man boobs or moobs. The puffy nipple appearance can often be the most alarming. Gynecomastia can be seen through form-fitting clothing or during times when a man may want to take his shirt off, such as when he is at the gym or going for a swim. Although men suffering from Gynecomastia may feel embarrassed and isolated because of it, they are not alone. Gynecomastia commonly occurs in thousands of men all over the world, especially if they have certain health conditions. Because of this, it is important that all men take the time to learn about the following potential symptoms and causes of gynecomastia, as well as treatment options that are available.
The Symptoms of Gynecomastia
The symptoms of gynecomastia can vary from person to person. But for the most part, it is common for a man to have a noticeable amount of swelling and fat deposits in the chest region that make it appear that he has womanly breasts. Sometimes, just one side of the chest will be affected. This causes the chest to look lop-sided. However, the two breasts typically develop simultaneously. Some symptoms of gynecomastia become evident through touch. This swelling leads to tenderness of breast tissue and physical discomfort from the skin stretching to accommodate the enlarged chest. Occasionally, there is leaking from the nipples too, which are often enlarged and puffy.
The Causes of Gynecomastia
The following is a list of some of the most common causes of gynecomastia:
Hormonal Balance Issues
Both men and women have the hormones estrogen and testosterone in their body. Men have about ten times the amount of testosterone than women. That is why they have different features than them, such as larger muscles, more facial hair, and a deeper voice. In return, women have a great deal more estrogen than men do, which causes them to have soft skin, curvy figures, and a higher voice. If anything upsets the ratio of estrogen and testosterone, this will result in problems with the hormonal balance. For men, this may lead to a higher amount of estrogen that contributes to puffy nipples and the development of man boobs, which are sometimes jokingly referred to as “moobs.”
After the age of 30 years old, a man's testosterone level drops by 1% annually. So by the time that he reaches the age of about 50 years old, he has already lost 20% of the testosterone that he would normally produce. That is because his body is preparing for a natural decrease in his fertility since it is unlikely that he will want to father children at an older age. Unfortunately, this decrease in testosterone causes him to develop estrogen dominance problems that contribute to this condition. It is important to mention that many young men also develop this condition when they are going through puberty. It usually resolves itself once their hormones even out though. Occasionally, male infants are born with enlarged male breast tissue because they have a high amount of estrogen from their mother still in their body.
Testicular and prostate cancer are affected by testosterone. To treat these cancers, a doctor may prescribe anti-androgen medications to decrease a man’s testosterone level. This decrease can cause a hormonal imbalance and the development of mood swings, depression, and gynecomastia.
Drinking alcohol can spike your estrogen levels. Beer is the worst offender, because hops convert to estrogen inside your body. Drinking in moderation is fine, especially if the rest of your diet is healthy. The safest choice is red wine, which contains antioxidants that fight the effects of estrogen.
Essential oils have become very commonplace these days. They exist in many common products that we use daily. We often use essential oils in aromatherapy, ingredients in food, and even as a natural insect repellent. According to findings, two very popular essential oils, lavender and tea tree, lower testosterone levels in men as well as increase estrogen levels. With frequent daily use, it could potentially trigger a hormonal imbalance that can lead to the development of gynecomastia. However it is worth noting that simply inhaling their scents would not have an effect on estrogen levels in any significant way. Men should not apply these essential oils directly onto skin.
Chemicals bisphenol A (BPA) or phthalates are commonly used in reusable water bottles. Researchers have found that these chemicals can mimic the effects of estrogen and block the production of testosterone. In other words, they can contribute to the hormonal imbalance that can cause gynecomastia and puffy nipples.
It should go without saying that starvation never has a good effect on the body. However, recently. some dieting trends encourage people to go for long periods of time without eating. By tricking the body into thinking it is in starvation mode, the theory behind these weight loss diets is that the body will convert fat into energy. Starvation has negative effects on men’s health and can be one of the causes of gynecomastia. Not only does this lead to a man's metabolism slowing down, but it also lowers his testosterone levels. Meanwhile, estrogen maintains the same level. As a result, a hormonal imbalance can develop.
Some of the Risky Treatment Options That Are Available
Treating gynecomastia is no easy task because a man's hormone levels have to first be corrected. To achieve this, a doctor may prescribe testosterone injections or pills to balance out the levels of estrogen and testosterone. The levels of estrogen and testosterone will continue to be actively monitored via blood and saliva tests. Of course, there are risks involved in taking extra testosterone though, such as an increased chance of a man developing certain types of cancer. The next option that is available, which is male breast reduction surgery, is even more invasive though. That is because male breast reduction surgery can only be done while a man is given a general anesthetic to make him sleep. And it carries its own risks because of the way that it affects a person's heart rate and blood pressure. On top of this, the surgery is very painful. It can cause an infection if the wounds from surgery if not properly cared for.
The Safest Solution for Men With Gynecomastia
Luckily, there are much less risky ways to hide gynecomastia. And it doesn't require pills, injections, or surgery. One solution is wear a special garment called a compression shirt. Compression shirts are form-fitting shirts worn underneath your regular clothing. Their compressing fabrics smooth and flatten the chest. If the protrusion and sensitivity of the nipples is problematic, there are also special nipple covers that are available as well. And they can be worn with or without the compression shirts.