Gynecomastia

Also known as: male breast enlargement, enlarged breast in men

What is gynecomastia?

When infants, boys, or men have benign (non-cancerous) enlarged breasts, the condition is known as gynecomastia.

Physiologic gynecomastia commonly occurs in:

  • Newborns ( ~ 90% and usually resolves in ~ 4 weeks )

  • Adolescents ( ~ 50% usually around 13-14 years of age )

  • Older men ( > 50 years of age )

Gynecomastia is self-limiting but can cause physical discomfort, anxiety and stress. Non-physiological gynecomastia can occur at any age and is caused by a variety of disorders and/or medications.  

What causes gynecomastia? 

Boys and men normally have minimal amounts of breast tissue. When the levels of the hormones that cause increased growth of breast tissue (estrogens/progesterone vs. testosterone) are present, breast growth occurs.

Non-physiologic gynecomastia may be caused by many chronic conditions including:

  • Cirrhosis of the liver

  • Kidney failure

  • Hypogonadism

  • Some medications

  • Certain supplements

  • Illegal drugs

  • Tumors (occasionally)


What are the symptoms of gynecomastia?

Sometimes the physical appearance of enlarged breasts is the only symptom of gynecomastia. In some cases, the breasts can become swollen, painful or tender.

 

What are gynecomastia care options?

Physiologic gynecomastia usually improves on its own over time, most are not bothered  by it and do not require treatment. Non-physiologic gynecomastia may require medications and/or surgery.


Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: 10/11/2017 11:06:15 AM

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