Body image is one of the most vital aspects of a person’s self-esteem. And with conditions like gynecomastia, it may take a severe hit.
Gynecomastia, aka Gyno, is a condition where a male individual experiences unnatural growth in their breast tissue. It differs from other conditions with similar external symptoms in that it’s caused due to an imbalance of sex hormones in a person’s body. Excess fat tissue should not be confused with gynecomastia.
Contrary to popular belief, the male body does produce a small amount of estrogen, balanced by the production of testosterone. True gyno is rare and is caused solely by the increased growth of breast glandular tissue, while the more common kind is a result of fat deposits on your chest area.
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Causes Of Gyno
Gyno can be found in nearly half of the male population, and it is more common in older people. What causes excess breast tissue growth will vary from one individual to the next, owing to their lifestyle choices and environmental factors.
Young boys may develop symptoms of gynecomastia due to a hormonal imbalance that ensues during puberty. This is no cause for worry, as the issue resolves itself as the person grows.
The human body slows down the production of sex hormones as it ages. As an individual grows older, they may develop symptoms of gynecomastia.
3. Recreational Drugs
Recreational drugs are known to cause gynecomastia due to hormonal changes they may cause in an individual’s body. Illegal drugs like heroin, amphetamines and steroids have been linked to gynecomastia.
4. Health Problems
Certain health conditions may bring about an imbalance to the testosterone and estrogen levels produced in a human body. Some of these are:
- Pituitary gland tumor
- Klinefelter syndrome
- Renal Failure
- Liver failure
5. Prescription Medication
Certain kinds of medicines can lead to growth of the male breast tissue, such as:
Anti-androgens are used for the treatment of prostate cancer or prostate enlargement, which can have an unwanted side effect in the form of enlarged breast tissue.
B. Heart Medication
There’s a chance that calcium channel blockers and other drugs can cause gynecomastia.
C. Anti-anxiety Drugs
Anti-anxiety medicines like diazepam or benzodiazepines may lead to gynecomastia in rare cases.
Bodybuilders who use steroids or testosterone replacement therapy for muscle development may inadvertently cause the growth of their breast tissue.
E. HIV Medication
HIV treatments like ‘highly active antiretroviral therapy’ may have the unwanted side effect of enlarged breast tissue.
6. Insulin Resistance
Insulin, the compound responsible for processing sugar from your blood, may also be responsible for your gyno problems. If the muscles in your body have ample amounts of glucose, the excess sugars are converted into fat and stored in your body.
As long as insulin remains in high quantities in your bloodstream, your body stops the breakdown of fat cells and continues to accumulate it. It’s a rarely acknowledged cause of gynecomastia, and now, you know a little more about it.
If you see the symptoms of gyno, your doctor may suggest a few tests to ensure that the problem is not a more pressing one. For this, they may perform a physical examination to confirm the absence of lumps, fluid, and skin problems that may be symptoms of cancer.
The tests that your doctor may perform are:
- Blood tests
- CT, MRI and X-ray scans of your chest
- Ultrasounds of your genitalia
- Tissue biopsies
There is also a chance of enlarged breasts being a sign of a different problem. It could simply be a fat deposition on your chest that gives it the appearance of breasts, solving which is as simple as losing weight. Or, in rare cases, it could be a sign of breast cancer. It’s extremely uncommon in men, but is known to happen.
If you want the enlarged breast tissue gone as soon as possible, you may look into male breast reduction surgeries. There are two primary kinds of male breast reduction surgeries, either of which your doctor may suggest depending on what suits your body the best.
Over the years, liposuction has become less invasive, leading to many deeming it the preferred male breast reduction surgery. If a skilled surgeon performs the surgery, you could return to your daily routine in a matter of days.
The process involves a small incision on either side of the chest and the removal of excess glandular tissue. Once the tissue has been removed, the surgeon sculpts a chest contour that suits your body the most.
The word ‘Mastectomy’ is derived from the Greek word ‘mastos’ (meaning breast) and the English word ‘ectomy’, denoting the removal of a body part. In short, mastectomy can be defined as a surgical technique that removes an individual’s breasts.
The process is straightforward: the breast glandular tissue is removed completely. Mastectomy has a lower recovery time, enabling the patient to return to their regular schedule fairly quickly.
Concerns With Male Breast Reduction Surgery
Though generally safe, there are a few concerns associated with male breast reduction surgery. Post-surgery side effects include pain, infection, blood clots, fluid deposition in the operated area, and asymmetrical breasts.
The scarring left behind after gynecomastia surgery may fade over a few weeks, but there are cases where it remains visible for quite a while.
Lastly, gynecomastia surgery is a costly option, no matter which you choose. If you are not in a hurry, it may be preferable to seek non-surgical treatments to get rid of gynecomastia..
Non-Surgical Treatments For Gynecomastia: Facts And Myths
There are myths aplenty floating about on the internet concerning gynecomastia and its treatment options. Before you engage in a fruitless endeavor and end up sinking a lot of time into a process that has no basis in reality, you may want to check the facts and find out where they end and the fiction begins.
That said, there are non-surgical treatments involving simple, non-invasive steps that you can take before considering a surgery.
1. Dietary Restrictions
A healthy diet will certainly help restore the hormonal balance of your body. You can introduce certain foods that are rich in protein, zinc, and vitamin D to boost the testosterone levels in your body.
You’ve likely come across a common myth associated with the chemical known as ‘phytoestrogen’. Said to mimic estrogen in the body, many advise against eating foods that contain phytoestrogens, such as soy and legumes.
The term ‘phytoestrogen’ is derived from ‘phyto’, a Greek word for plant. It is called so due to its chemical framework being similar to that of estrogen, the chemical that can affect breast size in your body. That said, it doesn’t mean that consuming foods with high amounts of phytoestrogens will increase your breast tissue or even have a noticeable effect.
To sum up, there is no study that conclusively suggests the effect of phytoestrogen on breast growth. Even with phytoestrogen intake that is much higher than what is normally in a diet, the person in question will only develop gynecomastia if they are sensitive to the chemical.
So, don’t fear the increase of your breast size and chomp down on soy to your heart’s content.
Alcoholic beverages do contain phytoestrogen, but as discussed in the previous section, that is not why they cause gynecomastia. These drinks wreak havoc on your liver and can cause chronic illnesses that may lead to gyno issues. Consider reducing alcohol intake and replacing it with a healthier option.
C. Reversing Insulin Resistance
By reducing the amount of processed foods and drinks you consume, you’ll be taking your first step into beginning the insulin resistance diet. The next part of the process is to add a lot of fiber and vegetables into your diet and cut down on saturated fat.
What you’ll strive for is a diet that promotes a healthy amount of fat breakdown in your body while stopping it from accumulating excess fat.
While not ideal, you have the option of using supplements to reduce breast size. The effectiveness of said supplements is a bit of a mixed bag, as they directly target the hormonal balance of your body.
Consider using these as a last resort when all else has failed since they come with a myriad of side effects and are quite expensive.
Exercises can’t do much to directly work on reducing breast size since it’s a result of enlarged glandular breast tissue. Even so, you can promote a healthier lifestyle and reduce your overall body fat levels while developing pectoral muscles. Developed muscles can mask breast enlargement to an extent. Listed below are some of the exercises
A. Walking And Running
An effective way of reducing your body mass index (BMI), walking and running is an option that is very easy to incorporate into your daily routine. Take some time out of your morning and go for a brisk walk around the locale. Not only is it a healthy practice for your body, but it’s vital for your mental health as well.
You can opt for a swim as your regular cardio exercise and emphasize on arm movements for maximum impact on your pectoral muscles. Swimming burns through fat very effectively and positively impacts your tolerance for physical activity as well.
C. Bench Press
Chest exercises like bench pressing are a good idea when attempting to cut down on your upper body fat. Your gym instructor will aid you in determining how many repetitions you need to maximize the effectiveness of the exercise.
One of the simpler exercises for pectoral muscles, push-ups can reduce your body fat while sculpting your pecs. As with bench presses, you can seek help from a gym instructor to know how many push-ups you should perform.
Effects Of Gynecomastia On Mental Health
Gynecomastia has a severe negative effect on a patient’s mental health. It’s not a simple matter of appearance either, as some cases may be more susceptible to depression, anxiety, and deterioration of self-image.
This is especially prevalent in adolescents, who may face undue pressure from bullies and may be more conscious of their external appearance. Adolescents with gynecomastia were observed to have developed unhealthy habits and reduced self-esteem. Though the condition subsides in a few years, parents of such children must be vigilant about their mental well-being.
1. Can gynecomastia lead to cancer?
Breast cancer develops in the glandular tissue growth of the chest and it’s not limited to females. In men, the chances of cancer due to gynecomastia are very low, but are present nonetheless.
You may consult your doctor for information on male breast cancer and if gyno can lead to it.
2. Can I leave gynecomastia untreated?
Typically, gynecomastia resolves on its own within a few years and doesn’t require any specific treatment. This is particularly true with adolescent boys, who may develop it during puberty.
The long-term risks are fairly low and with regular check-ups, you’ll minimize the risks of cancer as well.
3. How effective are gyno creams on reducing excess breast tissue?
There has been no documented scenario where breast growth-reducing creams have worked. These creams are quite expensive and offer very little returns, resulting in a waste of time and money. Consider steering clear of such creams and only use what your physician recommends.
Gynecomastia is a solvable condition that will require patience and discipline on your part. However, before you approach any solutions, it’s important to develop a complete understanding of the disease. Sidestepping myths and misinformation can be tricky when it comes to gynecomastia.
The internet is rife with false facts on the subject matter due to self-image being a significant and sensitive part of anyone’s life. It’s vital to consult a doctor on the methods that suit your body the best.
It’s always best to commit to a solution only if you know it will lead to surefire success.