What is gynecomastia?
Gynecomastia is the name given to abnormal but benign growth in the amount of breast tissue in men due to an imbalance of estrogen and testosterone hormones. Gynecomastia may affect one breast in some cases and both breasts in some cases. Both breasts can be affected irregularly and reach different sizes.
Newborns, teenage boys, and older men can develop gynecomastia as a result of normal changes in hormone levels. However, there are other reasons for the development of gynecomastia.
Gynecomastia is not a serious problem in many cases, but coping with this condition can be difficult for individuals. It has been observed that men with gynecomastia feel pain in their breasts. In some cases, it can be seen that the individual feels ashamed of the situation.
Depending on the cause of gynecomastia, it may heal spontaneously in some patients, and in some patients, drug treatment or surgery may be required to solve the problem.
What Causes Gynecomastia?
Gynecomastia is often caused by fluctuations in the level of the hormone testosterone. The decrease in the amount of testosterone hormone can be caused by conditions that block the effects of testosterone in the individual, reduce testosterone or increase estrogen levels.
Hormone balance in the body can be disturbed for many different reasons. Causes of gynecomastia include natural hormone changes, drug use, drug and alcohol use, complications from various health conditions, and the use of certain herbal products and supplements.
The hormones testosterone and estrogen control sex characteristics in both men and women. Testosterone controls masculine traits such as muscle mass and body hair, while estrogen controls feminine traits, including the growth of breasts.
Even though estrogen is defined as a female hormone, it produces very small amounts in men under normal conditions. Estrogen production that is much higher than normal, or estrogen production in an unbalanced ratio with the testosterone level can cause gynecomastia.
Male babies can be born with enlarged breasts due to the effect of estrogen in their mother’s body before birth. In most cases, this swollen breast tissue disappears within two to three weeks after birth.
The possibility of gynecomastia is relatively common during adolescence due to constantly changing hormone levels. In most cases of gynecomastia seen in adolescence, swollen breast tissue disappears without treatment.
The prevalence of gynecomastia in adults starts to rise again between the ages of 50-69. Studies indicate that at least one out of every four men in this age group shows signs of gynecomastia.
Some types of drugs can cause gynecomastia. These drugs primarily include anti-androgens, which are used to treat enlarged prostate, prostate cancer, and other similar conditions.
Anabolic steroids and androgens prescribed by doctors for certain conditions or sometimes illegally used by athletes to increase muscle mass or improve performance in competition can also cause gynecomastia.
There are publications reporting that some antidepressants and heart medications also cause gynecomastia.
In addition to amphetamines, which are normally used to treat attention deficit or hyperactivity disorder, drugs such as heroin, cannabis, and excessive alcohol production can also cause gynecomastia.
Some health problems can cause gynecomastia by affecting the body’s normal hormone balance. For example, conditions that affect normal testosterone production and lead to hypogonadism, such as Klinefelter syndrome or pituitary insufficiency, may be associated with gynecomastia.
Hormonal changes that occur with normal aging can also cause gynecomastia, especially in overweight men.
Some tumors that affect the testicles, adrenal glands, or pituitary gland can affect hormone production, altering the male-female hormone balance and leading to gynecomastia.
About half of individuals undergoing dialysis treatment for kidney failure may develop gynecomastia due to hormonal changes.
Various liver problems and cirrhosis medications can cause gynecomastia by causing changes in hormone levels.
Malnutrition and starvation can cause gynecomastia because when the human body is deprived of adequate nutrition, testosterone levels drop while estrogen levels stay the same. This causes hormonal imbalance. Even if gynecomastia does not start during this period, it can also occur when normal nutrition starts again.