It is a common misconception that men do not care much about their appearance as women do. However, men are also self-aware and conditions like gynecomastia can affect their self-image and esteem. Unfortunately, rarely is gynecomastia discussed. Here are a few things you should know about the condition.

What is Gynecomastia?

Gynaecomastia is an increase in the amount of breast gland tissue in males due to the overproduction of estrogen (female hormones) more than testosterone (male hormones) thus upsetting the balance. It can be caused by puberty, ageing, medication, and health conditions that affect hormones. Breast lumps and breast enlargement may occur in one or both breasts.

Occurrence

Statistics have shown that 50 to 65% of both boys and men are affected worldwide. Gynecomastia can occur at different times, including:

  • Birth: In some cases, baby boys may have enlarged breasts and it may be due to the mother’s estrogen levels. The enlargement normally goes away after a few weeks.
  • Puberty: During adolescence, some boys may experience fluctuating hormones, including drops in testosterone and surges in estrogen, hence causing breast tissue growth. As the hormone levels even out, the condition goes away. This may take about six months to two years.
  • Adulthood: With age, men’s bodies produce less testosterone, which stimulates estrogen production and breast tissue growth.
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Treatment

In some cases, treatment is not necessary as hormones even out naturally. However, in some cases,  breast reduction surgery is done where a plastic surgeon removes breast tissue to make breasts smaller.

Myths and misconceptions

Many myths and misconceptions mislead people about gynecomastia. The following are some of them.

  • Gynecomastia is due to being overweight - Men of all sizes can experience gynecomastia because of hormonal imbalance causing glandular tissue in the breast to grow
  • Increasing chest exercises will reduce big breasts - Gynecomastia is a development of breast tissues, hence there is no way to burn off the extra tissue. Exercise would only work if the enlarged breasts are due to extra fat tissue only.
  • Gynecomastia is a sign of breast cancer - Gynecomastia is a noncancerous condition. In this condition, cells are not affected, unlike cancer which is caused when cells divide uncontrollably and spread into surrounding tissues.
  • Gynecomastia can be reduced with pills and creams -  Getting rid of this condition can be done in two major ways. One is naturally when the body’s hormones regulate themselves and the breast can lose prominence. Some men might seek to do surgery that can restore a flat chest.
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Clever Ways to Hide Gynecomastia

Gynecomastia causes some kind of embarrassment in men and they might want to hide their breasts until they reduce naturally. Here are some of the common ways to cover up.

  • Taping the chest - This makes the male breasts look smaller. It pushes the breast tissue by comprising it. Some of the tapes include ACE bandages, duct tapes or even surgical tapes.
  • Wearing vests - Some men resolve to wearing vests which compact the body making the male breast less visible.
  • Blazers or jackets - Blazers or jackets offer good coverage over the enlarged male breast.
  • Wearing layers and undershirts - The more layers you wear, the harder it is to notice male breast size.

While gynecomastia is not a fatal condition it can affect the way one views themselves. As a result, it is advisable to seek professional medical advice especially when the issue does not go away after some time.

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