Breast Enlargement in Men (Gynecomastia)
Breast enlargement in men is called gynecomastia. Gynecomastia can occur during early childhood or puberty. Older men can also suffer from gyne...

Table of Contents
powered by healthline

Average Ratings

Overview

Breast enlargement in men is called gynecomastia. Gynecomastia can occur during early childhood or puberty. Older men can also suffer from gynecomastia due to hormonal changes or medication side effects. Breast swelling can also result from abnormal growths within the breast muscles or tissue or from an injury to the breast. Most cases of gynecomastia do not require treatment. However, the condition can affect self-esteem and cause sufferers to withdraw from public activities. Gynecomastia is treatable with medication, surgery or by discontinuing use of certain medications or illegal substances.

What Causes Breast Enlargement in Men?

A decrease in the hormone testosterone or an increase in the hormone estrogen cause most cases of breast enlargement in men. These hormone fluctuations can affect infants, children entering puberty, and older men for a variety of reasons.

Andropause

Andropause is a phase in a man’s life that is similar to menopause in a woman’s. During andropause, the body’s production of male sex hormones, especially testosterone declines, over several years. This usually occurs around middle age. The resulting hormone imbalance may cause breast swelling, hair loss, and insomnia.

Puberty

Although boys’ bodies produce androgens (male sex hormones), they also produce the female hormone estrogen. When entering puberty, adolescents may produce more estrogen than androgens. This can result in swollen breast tissue. The condition is usually temporary and subsides as the hormone levels rebalance.

Breast Milk

Infants may develop gynecomastia when drinking their mothers’ breast milk. The hormone estrogen is present in breast milk, so nursing babies may experience a slight increase in the level of the hormone. This can result in breast swelling.

Drugs

Drugs such as steroids and amphetamines can cause estrogen levels to increase slightly. This can result in swollen breasts.

What Are the Symptoms of Breast Enlargement in Men?

The symptoms of gynecomastia include:

  • swollen breasts
  • breast discharge
  • breast tenderness

Depending on the cause, additional symptoms may be present. If you have symptoms of male breast enlargement, contact your doctor so that he or she can determine the cause of your condition.

How Is Breast Enlargement in Men Diagnosed?

To determine the cause of your swollen breasts, your physician will ask questions about your medical history and your family’s medical history. He or she will also physically examine your breasts and genitals.

If the cause of your condition is not clear, your physician will order blood tests to check your hormone levels and a mammogram (breast X-ray) to view your breast tissue and check for any abnormal growths. In some cases, further tests such as ultrasounds, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, computed tomography (CT) scans, X-rays, or biopsies may be necessary.

How Is Breast Enlargement in Men Treated?

Gynecomastia usually requires no treatment and goes away on its own. However, if it results from an underlying medical condition, that condition must be treated to resolve the breast enlargement.

In cases of painful gynecomastia, medications or surgery may be used to correct the condition.

Liposuction can be used to remove excess breast fat and reduce the size of the breasts. In cases where swollen tissue is to blame, your physician may suggest a mastectomy, a surgery to remove the excess tissue.

Medications

The drugs tamoxifen and raloxifene can treat breast enlargement in men The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved these drugs o treat breast cancer, but research has shown that they are effective in treating some cases of gynecomastia.

Counseling

Gynecomastia may cause you to feel embarrassed or self-conscious. If you feel that it is making you depressed or if you are feeling too self-conscious to take part in your normal activities, speak to your doctor or to a counselor. It may also help to talk with other men who have the condition in a support-group setting.

Written by: April Khan and Marijane Leonard
Edited by:
Medically Reviewed by: George Krucik, MD
Published: Jul 25, 2012
Published By: Healthline Networks, Inc.
Top of page
General Drug Tools
General Drug Tools view all tools
Tools for
Healthy Living
Tools for Healthy Living view all tools
Search Tools
Search Tools view all tools
Insurance Plan Tools
Insurance Plan Tools view all tools

What is a reference number?

When you register on this site, you are assigned a reference number. This number contains your profile information and helps UnitedHealthcare identify you when you come back to the site.

If you searched for a plan on this site in a previous session, you might already have a reference number. This number will contain any information you saved about plans and prescription drugs. To use that reference number, click on the "Change or view saved information" link below.

You can retrieve information from previous visits to this site, such as saved drug lists and Plan Selector information.