Gynecomastia is an abnormal but benign enlargement of the amount of breast tissue in men caused by an imbalance of the hormones estrogen and testosterone. Gynecomastia can affect one breast in some cases and both breasts in others. Both breasts can be affected irregularly and can reach different sizes. Newborns, adolescent boys and older men can develop gynecomastia as a result of normal changes in hormone levels. However, there are other reasons for developing gynecomastia.
Gynecomastia is not a serious problem in many cases, but it can be difficult for individuals to cope with the condition. Men with gynecomastia have been observed to feel pain in their breasts. In some cases, the individual may feel embarrassed about the condition. Depending on the cause of gynecomastia, some patients may recover spontaneously, while others may require medication or surgery to resolve the problem.
Gynecomastia is often caused by fluctuations in the level of the hormone testosterone. A decrease in the amount of the hormone testosterone can be caused by conditions that block the effects of testosterone, decrease testosterone or increase estrogen levels in the individual. Hormone balance in the body can be disturbed for many different reasons. Causes of gynecomastia include natural hormone changes, medication, drug and alcohol use, complications from various health conditions, and the use of certain herbal products and supplements.
Some types of medication can also cause gynecomastia. These drugs include anti-androgens, which are primarily used to treat enlarged prostate, prostate cancer and other similar conditions. Anabolic steroids and androgens, prescribed by doctors for certain conditions or sometimes used illegally by athletes to increase muscle mass or improve performance in competitions, can also cause gynecomastia.
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