Commonly known as "gyno" or even "bitch-tits", gynecomastia is a condition that affects children, teens and adults alike. As the name implies, it is the the abnormal enlargement of the male breast or breasts. The condition is often extremely uncomfortable and can cause tenderness and pain of the breast and nipple. While there are several known causes of gynecomastia, it's effects are usually temporary. More often than not, gynecomastia is the side effect of a more serious problem. It is actually estimated that at least 19%-60% of the male population will actually experience some form of gynecomastia at one point or another in their life. Gynecomastia in teens is a common side effect of puberty and no cause for alarm. In adult males, gynecomastia may be caused by disease or drug use. It is important that anyone experiencing what they think may be gynecomastia is seen by a physician as soon as possible.
For bodybuilders, the most common cause of gynecomastia is the use of anabolic steroids. The use of anabolic steroids increases testosterone which thereby creates a increase in estrogen. The more testosterone, the more estrogen. It is this irregular increase in estrogen that causes gynecomastia in weight lifters and bodybuilders. In most cases, if you're not currently taking an anti-estrogen, gynecomastia will eventually be the result. Suddenly stopping the use of anabolic steroids will almost certainly result in gynecomastia. Gynecomastia can usually be avoided by taking an anti-estrogen such as Nolvadex or by using steroids that cannot peripherally be converted to estrogen. For additional information on these types of steroids, you may want to check out the The Steroid Bible.
Gynecomastia may be caused by several other factors:
- Liver or Lung Cancer
- Cirrhosis of the Liver
- Overactive Thyroid
- Pituitary Cancer
- Adrenal Gland Cancer
- Testicular Cancer
- Alcohol, Marijuana, Methamphetamine and/or Heroin use
- Klinefelter's syndrome
- Use of certain medications such as Steroids (Prednisone, Hexadrol), Ulcer medications (Cimetidine), Epilepsy medications (Phenytoin (Dilantin), Digitalis and other heart medications, Chemotherapy drugs, Antiandrogen drugs and anti anxiety or antidepressant medication ( Diazepam, Valium, Tricyclic antidepressants).
Treatment options for Gynecomastia
Before any treatment is started for gynecomastia, a full pathology workup should be completed. If there is no underlying disease that is causing the effects of gynecomastia and simply stopping any medication that may be causing it doesn't reduce the breast, there are several options you may want to consider. In order of severity, they are listed below:
- Herb Treatment: Many people have used turmeric root as a cure for gynecomastia. Varying degrees of success have been reported. Some users have seen the effects diminish completely while others have simply reported a reduction in pain and soreness. There are no scientific studies available to document the effects of turmeric root on gynecomastia, however, it is probably the least evasive and least expensive treatment option. The recommended dosage is at least 20 grams of grated turmeric root per day for at least 30 days.
- Chemical Treatment: Some physicians are currently prescribing chemical treatment with clomiphen (estrogen antagonist), danazol (antigonadoprophic), tamoxifen (antestrogen) and dihydrotestosterone to cure gynecomastia, however, again – there are no studies that actually prove this is an effective treatment.
- Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT): This is considered a short-term treatment and involves using a topical gel (Andractim) that is rubbed into the skin. According AllSaintsClinic.com, the response of gynecomastia to this treatment will usually take place within 10 days. Daily recommended dosage is 5 grams rubbed directly into the chest for approximately 3 months or less. Recommended usage is limited to three tubes and additional purchases have to be okayed by a physician. The cost of an initial treatment includes 2 tubes of gel and a testing kit for approximately $150.00. For more information on HRT, click here.
- Liposuction has just recently been introduced as a treatment for gynecomastia. In this procedure, very small incisions are made through which the excess fat is drawn from the chest with liposuction. This method is less expensive that breast reduction, requires no actual surgery and therefore leaves a very natural appearance to the chest.
- Low Dose Radiation is also a suggested treatment, however, is known to only be effective in the early stages of the disease.
- Cosmetic Surgery or Breast Reduction is also being used as a last ditch treatment for severe gynecomastia. Although this is a fairly painless, out-patient procedure with few, if any risks, the cost at almost $2000.00 per breast is often prohibitive. For more information on breast reductions and photographs of actual surgical procedures, click here.
Being excessively overweight can also cause symptoms that may be similar to gynecomastia. However pseudogynecomastica, as it is called, will not respond to any of the treatments listed above. The only way to reduce the effects of pseudogynecomastica are through dieting, weight loss and physical fitness. It is extremely important that before attempting any of the treatment options listed above, you should contact a physician and have a complete physical. As we mentioned early in this article, gynecomastia is usually a side effect of something far more serious. In many cases of gynecomastia, no treatment is necessary, as it will eventually disappear on its own. Physicians will often defer treatment unless the patient is in extreme pain or the embarrassment of the size of the breast is making life uncomfortable.