Man boobs – not the most attractive “asset.”
Men are supposed to be strong, fit. No man wants to walk around with A or B cups. There’s plenty of fit men walking around that should be sporting a bra. The moobs (man boobs) also find their way into everyday jokes.
“Hey bitch tits, let’s get to the gym” is a phrase I overheard my buddy tell his friend.
It’s even worse when you’re dedicated to fitness. You hit the gym, you never skip leg day and you’re a freaking beast.
But when you take the shirt off, it goes downhill.
This is a treatable medical condition – not a joke – called gynecomastia.
If you’re suffering from moobs, there’s a good chance it’s a medical condition and not just a little extra flab that never seems to go away.
And I have good news for you: it’s treatable.
What Is Gynecomastia?
Gynecomastia is a condition found in men and boys. This isn’t a life-threatening issue, but it can cause embarrassment and self-esteem issues.
Men have breast glands (just like women), but the glands of men stay underdeveloped.
This is why men don’t walk around with large boobs. But for men suffering from gynecomastia, the glands begin to swell, causing the his breasts to grow and appear large. This is the cause of men having boobs (see, it isn’t the guy’s fault after all).
If you’re young, there is hope.
Studies find that 90% of cases of gynecomastia resolve by the time a man reaches adulthood. But there’s bad news, too.
Gynecomastia also presents later in life.
What’s important to note is that gynecomastia has nothing to do with a person being overweight. This is an issue that’s caused by additional breast tissue, and there is no amount of exercise that will help remedy the problem.
If you’re overweight or in the obese range, you may be suffering from Pseudogynecomastia.
Pseudogynecomastia is a condition where fat builds up in the breasts, and this is often weight-related. These men can lose weight and will notice a reduction in the fat in their breasts, too.
Symptoms of Gynecomastia
The symptoms of this medical condition are rather straightforward:
- Swelling of the breast
- Tenderness of the breast
- Increase in areola size
If you notice any discharge or suffer from pain, you’ll want to consult with a physician to have a thorough examination conducted.
Causes of Gyno
Males and females both have testosterone and estrogen in their bodies – it’s natural. Women naturally have more estrogen than testosterone, and this is what allows a woman to maintain her feminine features.
Testosterone and estrogen imbalances are what cause a man to grow breasts.
A male’s body produces higher levels of testosterone, and this isn’t just for muscle building. Testosterone plays a vital role in the assurance that a man doesn’t grow breast tissue. When the levels of testosterone are high enough, they’ll stop the estrogen in a man’s body from developing breasts.
When babies are born, they often have breast tissue. Statistics show 1 in 9 babies have palpable breast tissue, and this is a result of the high estrogen levels of the mother.
Swelling subsides after a few weeks.
Men often notice that their breasts are growing or swelling when they reach:
- Middle age
- Elder years
When a man ages, less testosterone is produced, which allows estrogen to develop into boobs. There’s also the fact that older men tend to have more fat than younger men, which adds to the overall appearance of man boobs.
But natural hormonal imbalances aren’t solely to blame.
Studies show that 10% – 20% of cases of gynecomastia are a result of medication or another herbal product. These products often interfere with the body’s hormones. This causes estrogen levels to rise and lead to growing breasts.
If you’re taking any of the following, you may cause your breasts to enlarge:
- Anabolic steroids
- HIV medication
- Ulcer medications
Chemotherapy has also been linked to gynecomastia.
The good news is that many of these cases (75%) will resolve without intervention. But, there are OTC gynecomastia treatment options that will help stop your growing “man boobs” in their tracks and help you restore a natural chest size.
Some men even undergo breast reduction surgery or use hormone therapy to help stop man boobs from lowering their self-esteem and causing lasting issues.
Tumor growth and hyperthyroidism may present if the condition is not treated properly.
In rare cases, medical intervention is needed to ensure that estrogen levels subside and gynecomastia ceases to be an issue.
How to Know if You Have Gynecomastia
Man boobs can be embarrassing to live with. And there’s a lot of misinformation out there about what “moobs” are and what causes them.
Some people say it’s genetic – there’s nothing you can do about it. If your dad or grandpa had man boobs, then you’ll probably have them, too. Right? Others say it’s just a bunch of fat in the chest area that you can get rid of with good-old-fashioned exercise.
It’s usually a combination of both things.
If you have extra fat in the chest area, you may just assume that you have gynecomastia. But it may also just be fatty tissue.
How can you tell if you have true gynecomastia or just fat tissue?
They both look pretty similar.
Gyno feels like a firm, rubbery lump underneath the nipple. It can happen to one or both sides, and you may notice that your lump feels sore.
If you don’t feel a lump, you may have pseudogynecomastia. Pseudogynecomastia is common in men who are overweight or obese, and occurs when excess fat accumulates in the chest area.
If you’re generally slim, pseudogynecomastia is probably not the cause of your man boobs.
Gyno can be diagnosed by a doctor through an ultrasound scan of the chest wall. Ultrasound machines can determine whether you have fat or breast tissue in the chest area.
Your doctor can also perform an examination to check for gyno. The exam is simple. You’ll be asked to lie flat on your back with both hands behind your head. The doctor will feel for a firm disk in the nipple area.
Typically, the condition can be self-diagnosed in the privacy of your own home using the same procedure.
Some doctors will perform mammograms (yes, mammograms) and blood tests. This is usually done to cover all bases and make sure you don’t have cancer or some other underlying condition.
Additional testing may be required, depending on your doctor and the results of your exam. These tests may include:
- Testicular ultrasounds
- CT scans
- Tissue biopsies
Most people won’t need these extra tests.
Honestly – it’s pretty easy to tell if you have gyno or just fatty tissue in your chest. The “feel” test is usually all you need.
What Does Gyno Feel Like?
You can usually tell the difference between gyno and fatty tissue just by examining yourself. You don’t need fancy equipment. You don’t even have to go to the doctor in most cases.
If it’s fatty tissue, the breasts should feel soft, like a female’s breast. If you have true gynecomastia, the breasts feel like a firm disk of tissue just below the areola. The disk of tissue should be noticeable, and you may notice some tenderness when you touch it.
Some people have a combination of fatty tissue and true gyno. In this case, the breasts would feel soft with a firm disk of tissue. If you have larger breasts, you may not feel the firm tissue. This combination form of gyno is usually found in obese guys.
True gynecomastia can cause soreness and pain in some men. Some guys will feel the swelling. Others don’t even know they’re there until they look in the mirror.
If you don’t feel pain or tenderness, don’t assume it’s not gyno.
Gynecomastia vs Fat
You know what gyno feels like and what to look for when examining yourself. But what’s the difference between gynecomastia and fat?
Gynecomastia is caused by excess breast tissue growth. The firm growth is usually just behind the nipple, so it’s easy to find. Gyno can also grow over time, and will remain firm. Fatty tissue can grow, too, but only if you gain more weight.
If gynecomastia continues growing, it can spread beyond the areola and start looking more like a female breast. The areola can also become enlarged as the gyno continues growing.
Chest fat, on the other hand, is painless and soft. It usually looks like a soft lump underneath the breast and typically only occurs in overweight people. It feels just like any other fat on the body.
If your man boobs are caused by fat, they may sag or hang lower on the body. The swelling shouldn’t be painful or tender. You won’t notice any changes to your nipples either.
Both chest fat and gyno will cause equal swelling on both sides, although gyno may grow slightly larger on one side.
If only one side of your chest is enlarged, see your doctor right away. It may be an infection or a rare form of cancer that’s causing the swelling.
Do I Have Gynecomastia?
Man boobs can be embarrassing – whether it’s caused by true gyno or fat. The only real way to know if you have gynecomastia is to see your doctor, but you’ll be pushed to get surgery to correct it.
Surgery comes with risks – risks that you don’t want to take. Sure, gyno is a pain, literally and figuratively. But it’s not life threatening. Surgery should be your very last resort unless your doctor says it’s absolutely necessary.
If you have true gyno, diet and exercise won’t eliminate the problem. No matter how much fat you lose, you’ll still have glandular tissue.
When you spend hours at the gym and eat right, it can be downright frustrating to look down and see moobs.
Do you have gyno? Maybe…
If you feel a firm disk behind your nipple, you probably do. You may just have a mild case that will go away on its own. Or, you may be one of the unlucky guys who have gyno that keeps growing.
If you don’t do something about it soon, you may be adding bras to your Amazon wish list.
Whether or not you have gyno isn’t the issue. The issue is what you’re going to do about it. Will you opt for risky surgery, or try an alternative solution?
I don’t know about you, but I’d rather not take my chances with surgery unless it’s a medical emergency.
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