What is Gynecomastia?

Sometimes referred to as “gyno”, gynecomastia is a condition in which the male breast tissue becomes noticeably enlarged. It can affect both breasts at the same time or one breast individually. In general, the range of swelling can widely vary. Gynecomastia is completely different than the increase of breast tissue associated with normal weight gain.

Gynecomastia and Hormones

Gynecomastia is caused by underlying hormonal balances. Specifically, there is too much estrogen in the body, and not enough testosterone. Although males do need a certain amount of estrogen to maintain a healthy physique, once it exceeds a normal level, the male body can start to take on feminine characteristics. One of these feminizing traits is gyno.

What are Natural Causes of Gynecomastia?

Sometimes, hormonal changes during puberty can cause temporary bouts of gyno. Similarly, infants can be born with breasts due to their mother’s high estrogen levels (these cases of gyno are usually temporary). Men can also experience gyno as they reach middle age and experience a decline in testosterone production. Unfortunately, this kind of gynecomastia is not usually temporary, since the proper hormonal balance is not likely to return.
Other natural causes can include:

  • Hypogonadism – this is a condition where the testes do not produce enough testosterone.
  • Cancerous tumors – testicular cancer, adrenal cancer, or cancer of the pituitary gland can cause hormonal changes in the body that present themselves in a wide variety of symptoms, including breast enlargement.
  • Hyperthyroidism – the thyroid gland is responsible for a hormone called thyroxine. A drastic increase in this hormone can cause gyno as a result.
  • Kidney failure – hormonal changes as a result of improperly functioning kidneys can cause this symptom to manifest.
  • Liver failure – hormonal changes due to liver problems can cause gyno, as can some of the medications (particularly for cirrhosis of the liver).
  • Poor diet – if your body is starved of nutrition, the testosterone levels will decrease, but the estrogen levels remain the same. This imbalance can cause gyno. Interestingly, gyno can also occur as a result of switching back to a regular, healthy diet.

What are some External Causes of Gynecomastia?

Many environmental factors outside of the body can result in gyno as well, such as:

  • Drugs – certain medications and illegal narcotics have been known to cause an enlargement of male breast tissue, even controlled substances such as alcohol.
  • With hair restoration, certain hair medications can cause gynecomastia as a result. This is because male-pattern baldness (MPH) Is caused by a testosterone-based hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT), and certain medications prevent this hormone from forming.
  • Chemotherapy – the change in hormonal production (usually from thyroid damage) can cause symptoms of gyno.
  • Herbal extracts and other products – phytoestrogen is the plant version of estrogen, and can sometimes mimic the effects of estrogen in the body. If taken in large amounts, certain herbal remedies can potentially cause gyno.
  • Plastics – the synthetic compounds of certain types of plastics can sometimes be released into the human body and cause feminizing effects if used over a long period of time.

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