Gynecomastia, which is characterized by the development of enlarged male breasts, is attributed to an imbalance of hormones. As a result, although it can develop at any age, it is extremely common among pubescent males. During puberty, the sex hormones estrogen and testosterone naturally fluctuate; however, an increased presence of estrogen, the female hormone, in combination with a reduced level of testosterone, the male hormone, may prompt breast tissue growth, resulting in breast gland enlargement.
The change to insulin levels and growth factors that occurs during puberty may also contribute to the development of Gynecomastia. This change can cause tremendous distress and embarrassment and may even result in depression or anxiety. Luckily, in most instances, Gynecomastia in teenagers is transient, not permanent.
Although it is estimated that 48-64% of males experience pubertal or teenage Gynecomastia, within 6 to 24 months, the condition typically resolves itself. In fact, 90% of those who suffer from this condition as teens shed the excess breast tissue as they enter adulthood, without undergoing treatment. However, if it continues into adulthood, it is categorized as persistent pubertal Gynecomastia and may require treatment such as medication or surgery.
While treatment is not required, most teens experiencing enlarged breast development are understandably self-conscious and look for solutions. In order to ensure that the condition does not worsen and the symptoms are not prolonged, several preventative measures can be taken.
Assess Your Use Of Medication
A number of medications are attributed to the development of male breast tissue, including anti-retrovirals and anti-psychotics. Teens suffering from Gynecomastia should consult with their doctor to ensure that their use of medications is not worsening the condition.
Avoid Drug Use
There is also a connection between recreational drug use and Gynecomastia. In particular, studies indicate that Marijuana alters the body’s hormonal mechanism, resulting in an increase in estrogen production. Marijuana usage is also believed to increase the likelihood that teenage Gynecomastia will lead to persistent pubertal Gynecomastia and should therefore be avoided to ensure the condition is not permanent. In addition to their other various side effects, amphetamines, Heroin, Methadone, and alcohol may also encourage breast enlargement in males.
Assess Your Diet
Being overweight can cause enlargement of the breasts due to fat accumulation. Food that is rich in estrogen may exasperate the condition. In an effort to ensure symptoms are not worsened, teens may wish to avoid genetically modified milk and meat as well as tofu, soy, and a number of grains and vegetables including flax seeds, sesame seeds, beans, and bran cereals, which are all high in estrogen.
Consult With A Physician
Although pubertal or teenage Gynecomastia is a common condition, teens that are troubled by the growth of breast tissue should consult with a physician to ensure that it is not indicative of an underlying medical problem, such as hyperthyroidism, Klinefelter Syndrome or malnutrition.
Even though in most cases the symptoms of teenage Gynecomastia soon dissipate, it can be a very difficult time for adolescents. If you are troubled by the presence of male breast tissue, we welcome you to schedule a consultation with Dr. Edelstein or Dr. Jindal to discuss treatment options.
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