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Gynecomastia is a condition of overdevelopment or enlargement of the breast tissue in men or boys. The breasts become larger. They may grow unevenly.
Gynecomastia often happens when a preteen or teenage boy is going through the hormonal changes of puberty. But it can also happen to newborn babies and to men as they age.
Gynecomastia is usually a benign (noncancerous) condition. It may be linked to many different causes of hormone changes. In many cases, the cause isn’t known.
Gynecomastia is often caused by changes in levels of the female hormone (estrogen) and the male hormone (testosterone). But it can be caused by other things as well.
Gynecomastia can be a side effect of certain medicines, such as antidepressants, antibiotics, chemotherapy, prostate cancer medicines, ulcer or cardiovascular medicines. Illegal drugs, such as anabolic steroids, heroin, or marijuana can also cause gynecomastia.
Some diseases and medical conditions may also cause gynecomastia. These include:
Newborn babies may have a short-term form of gynecomastia. This is often because a mother’s estrogen stays in a baby’s blood for a while after birth.
Gynecomastia is not linked to breast cancer. It is rare that men get breast cancer. But your provider may do some tests to rule out breast cancer.
You may have gynecomastia in one or both breasts. It may start as a lump or fatty tissue beneath the nipple, which may be sore. The breasts often get larger unevenly.
The symptoms of gynecomastia may look like other medical conditions or problems. Always see your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
Your provider will take your past health and medicine history and give you a physical exam.
To rule out other diseases or conditions, you may also have tests including:
In some cases, tests are not needed to diagnose the condition
Your provider may suggest that you see a provider who specializes in hormones and how they affect many organs (an endocrinologist).
Your healthcare provider will figure out the best treatment for you based on:
Most cases of gynecomastia happen during puberty. The condition usually gets better on its own without treatment. This may take from 6 months to 2 or 3 years.
If a medicine is causing your breast enlargement, you may need to stop taking the medicine. That can solve the problem. If a disease is causing the condition, the disease will need to be treated.
Hormone therapy may be used to treat gynecomastia.
In rare cases, surgery may be used to remove the extra tissue.
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