Gynecomastia is a physiological condition seen in males. The males suffering with Gynecomastia develop breasts or mammary glands. This term is derived from the Greek words gyne which means woman and mastos which means breast. This is can be seen in the neonates, adolescents and also in the elderly. Men suffering from this condition tend to have a very distressed life.
What exactly happens in Gynecomastia?
Men with Gynecomastia develop a breast tissue which is about 1-1/2 inches below the nipple region. This generally resembles that of females.
There is another condition where in the fat gets deposited in the chest region and gives a false impression of breasts. This is very common in the boys who are suffering from obesity and this condition is termed as Pseudogynecomastia that is false Gynecomastia. This condition is completely different than Gynecomastia and these false breasts can be lost by cutting down the adipose tissue present in the body.
What are the causes of Gynecomastia?
Breasts in females are formed with the help of a hormone called estrogen. In case of males, the exact reason for their causal is still not clearly known. Scientists believe that it is a result of the imbalance of sex hormones in the body during puberty.
Incase of neonates, the transfer of female hormones from the mother to the fetus during the pregnancy period is known to cause Gynecomastia.
Other reasons for their causal include medications including hormones, increased serum estrogen and decreased testosterone production, androgen receptor defects, chronic kidney disease, chronic liver disease, HIV and other chronic illness. Few cases in which Gynecomastia resulted after spinal cord injury and re-feeding after starvation are also seen. Still in majority of the cases the reasons are not exactly known.
How can Gynecomastia be diagnosed?
It can be diagnosed with the help of a doctor. Boys who are at their puberty stages need no further diagnosis and it is generally assumed that these breasts disappear within 2 or 3 years in their cases. In case of elders and neonates, Gynecomastia is generally diagnosed with the help of X-rays or with ultra sound. A series of blood and other tests are also required to diagnose the underlying diseases if any that are causing this condition.
What are the outcomes of this disease?
This disease is not harmful but causes lot of distress in the person. The victim may feel shy to face the public because of this abnormal condition. Sometimes, the development of these breasts may be a result of few dangerous diseases. Weight loss can help in reducing the fat portion of the breasts though the glandular portion remains unaffected. Sagging tissues about the chest, chest ptosis, or drooping chest may result when one loses the weight.
How can Gynecomastia be treated?
Your doctor would be the correct person to suggest you the appropriate treatment required to treat this condition after proper diagnosis. In most of the cases, mainly with the adolescent boys this condition disappears within 2 or 3 years. So no medication would be needed. And if the tissue does not disappear then it is better to take medications under proper guidance by the doctor. Medications that are generally prescribed are:
Clomiphene, an antiestrogen: This drug when taken for about 6 months with the dosage 50-100 mg per day has found to show better results in reducing the size of the breast tissue. But this drug is known to cause side effects like visual problems, nausea and rashes.
Tamoxifen, an estrogen antagonist: This drug should be used with a dosage of 150 mg 3 times per day for 6 months. This drug also has few side effects like nausea, vomiting, edema, and worsening of hypertension.
Danazol, a synthetic derivative of testosterone: This drug is specialized in inhibiting the pituitary secretion of LH and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) which helps in reducing the production of the estrogen in the body which will ultimately stop the growth of the tissue. It causes side effects like weight gain, acne, muscle cramps, fluid retention, nausea, and abnormal liver function.
Testolactone: This drug inhibits the peripheral aromatase which helps in treating Gynecomastia. Nausea, vomiting, edema, and worsening of hypertension are few of the side effects of this drug.
Surgery is also another option with which the breast tissue can be removed. This has fewer side effects than the drugs.