You've heard countless of jokes about this. If you watched Seinfeld, you probably remember that one episode in which Kramer came up with a brassiere for men with man boobs. He can't even decide whether he should name it "mansiere" or "bro". Funny, isn't it? For men, with this condition, it certainly is not funny.
What is Male Breast Enlargement (MBE)?
Also called gynecomastia, this condition is defined as the enlargement of the breasts' glandular tissue. This affects men of all ages. In fact, up to two-thirds of adolescent boys and 50 percent of the older male population are suffering from this condition. Usually, the condition emerges during the puberty years but goes away without treatment after a few months when the hormonal levels are stabilized. However, when it reemerges during adulthood, it becomes more persistent.
Testosterone, Weight Gain, and Man Boobs
As men age, their testosterone levels gradually decline. They also tend to add more pounds. Decline in testosterone can contribute to breast enlargement while weight gain increases the risk for pseudogynecomastia. This is a type of breast enlargement that is caused by fatty tissue deposits under the breasts. The fat cells trigger the production of small amounts of estrogen, which may further increase the enlargement of the breast.
Psychological Trauma of Man Boobs
Having man boobs can make you the butt of jokes. Because of the social stigma attached to men with prominent breasts, they try all sorts of strategies to cope. They wear baggy shirts, they squeeze into tight compression garments, and they avoid situations wherein they would be required to go shirtless in public like beaches or swimming pools. Some even go as far as binding their chests with bandages or athletic tapes. Moreover, men with this condition are ashamed of taking off their shirts in front of their partners, thus limiting their sexual experiences.
Sign of a Health Problem
It's not only the psychological trauma that men with this condition should be worried about. It can also be a sign of an underlying medical condition. Even though it is usually a benign condition, some can signal other health problems like:
- hypogonadism or low testosterone
- overactive thyroid
- genetic abnormality
- cancer like lung, breast, adrenal gland, or testes
It's for this reason that it's a must to go to a reliable endocrinologist to evaluate your condition.
Role of Drugs in Male Breast Enlargement
Apart from the above mentioned illnesses, gynecomastia can also be caused by certain medications such as:
- anabolic steroids
- stomach acid drug cimetidine
- spironolactone, heart medication
- bicalutamide, prostate cancer drug
Discontinuing the use of the drug can help alleviate the condition. However, it's a must to consult your doctor first before you stop taking any medication.
Treating the Condition
Treatment of gynecomastia depends on the cause.
- If it is due to an underlying medical condition, it's imperative to treat that.
- If you're suffering from pseudogynecomastia, you need to lose weight with a healthy diet and regular exercise.
- Some doctors will also prescribe drugs that block estrogen such as tamoxifen. This is used for the treatment of breast cancer. Although it's not yet approved by the FDA as a treatment of gynecomastia, it's been documented that it has reduced breast size and tenderness among 80 percent of men who have tried it.