Gynecomastia (Male Breasts)

Gynecomastia is an enlargement of male breasts, usually caused by a hormonal imbalance &/or estrogen hormones in males.

The growth and development of male breasts are the same as females until puberty (hormones) start at approximately 12 years of age. Male reproductive organs (testes) begin secreting male hormones (androgens) to stop breast development.

A tumour of the teste(s) or of the pituitary gland are also a known cause of gynecomastia. Men, much older show a greater incidence of this abnormality due to the reduced secretion of androgens as the result of aging. Injuries to breast do not seem to cause gynecomastia.

Treatment for gynecomastia usually involves some of the following treatment options:

  • hormone therapy
  • correction of the estrogen-stimulating disorder; or
  • removal of the tumour(s) responsible for improper hormone balance

What does my pituitary gland do?

The pituitary gland produces prolactin which acts on the breasts to induce milk production. The pituitary gland also secretes hormones that act on the adrenal and thyroid glands as well as the ovaries and testes.

Androgens?

Androgen deficiency is when the body has lower levels of male sex hormones and in particular, testosterone.

A modest and gradual drop in sex hormone levels is across male populations from around the age of 30 years old but not in all men. A drop in testosterone usually occurs due to developing other illnesses as males tend to age.