An embarrassing and sometimes painful condition that men and boys are sometimes afflicted with is gynecosmastia. This condition causes the breast tissue to swell. It is usually caused by hormonal imbalances of testosterone and estrogen, although it can be caused by other reasons as well. It can affect newborn males, boys in puberty and older men. This condition is usually not serious, but dealing with the embarrassment can be difficult. It sometimes disappears on its own, or medications are used to treat it. Surgical removal may also be done in certain cases.
When testosterone levels decrease in men and estrogen levels rise, this condition can result. Many things can trigger the imbalance including normal hormonal changes, medications and health disorders. Testosterone and estrogen are the hormones that control and maintain both male and female sex characteristics. Testosterone controls body hair and muscle mass, and estrogen controls breast growth and other feminine traits. Although estrogen is considered a female hormone, men do have small amounts in their bodies, which control production of sperm, mood and bone strength. This condition is commonly seen in newborn males, due to the mother's estrogen levels that can affect the baby. Normally this condition disappears within the first weeks after birth. Boys in puberty can also experience it, but within a few months to a couple of years the condition subsides. A fourth of all men over fifty are affected by this disorder due to many different causes. Some of the symptoms are, pain and tenderness in breast along with breast tissue swelling.
Many medications can cause this condition, including medications that are used to treat cancer or enlarged prostates, AIDS medications, antibiotics, medications for ulcers, anxiety and antidepressants. Also heart medications, alcohol and street drugs like steroids, heroin, amphetamines and the use of marijuana can trigger this condition. There are also certain health conditions that can cause swollen breasts in men. These include hypogonadism, aging, tumors, hyperthyroidism, kidney failure, cirrhosis and malnutrition. Certain herbal products have been associated with this condition as well. These include lavender or certain plant oils that are used in soaps, shampoos or lotions. There are other conditions that can cause the same symptoms as this disorder such as fatty chest tissue, breast abscess or cancer, which is rare in men.
Normally gynecomastia disappears without treatment, but sometimes if the cause is due to a serious health condition such as cirrhosis or hypogonadism, treatment may be necessary. If medications are the cause then stopping their use will usually reverse the symptoms. If this condition does not go away on its own, the doctor may prescribe medication such as Raloxifene or Tamoxifen, which are normally used to treat breast cancer. If medications do not help then surgery may be an option.