Gynecomastia can be a dreaded thing to go through as a teenage boy. Some are lucky to experience no pain, while others have their hands in their hair about it. So let’s dig deeper into gynecomastia, why it appears, and when gynecomastia goes away.
Definition Of Gynecomastia
Gynecomastia is an appearance in the male gender where the glandular tissue in one or both breasts is enlarged. It isn’t always visible but can be felt when pressing and examining the breast and nipple. It feels like a hard stone, small or large, and can be very sensitive and painful.
Overview Of The Causes Of Gynecomastia
The leading cause of gynecomastia is hormonal imbalances in boys and men. Women and men have testosterone (male reproductive hormone) and estrogen (female reproductive hormone). Men have more testosterone than women, and vice versa.
The most common causes of gynecomastia:
- Hormonal imbalances – newborn babies, teenage boys, and older men
- Medication for specific ailments – HIV, ADHD, prostate problems, anxiety, antibiotics, chemotherapy, and heart medication.
- Drug abuse – alcohol, steroids, and drugs
- Health conditions that affect the hormone balance in the body
- Herbal products – specifically tea tree oil and lavender oil
How Long Does Gynecomastia Last?
The duration of gynecomastia depends on the cause of it and the age and health of the individual.
When a baby boy is born, he might have elevated estrogen levels from the mother and have gynecomastia for about 3 weeks or less.
The biggest group of boys that get gynecomastia are those hitting puberty. Hormonal imbalances define puberty and, thus, is gynecomastia not uncommon at all. Some teenage boys experience severe gynecomastia, whereas others don’t realize they have it. Gynecomastia in puberty can start anytime from 10 years to 14 years and last around 6 months to 3 years.
Another group of men that experience gynecomastia is men in their 50s to 80s. This could be because their testosterone levels drop, leaving a hormonal imbalance in the body. This can be dealt with when a doctor prescribes a three-month course of estrogen blockers. This could clear up the gynecomastia within a few weeks to three months.
When gynecomastia is caused by medication, it will go away as soon as it is changed. However, this might not be possible in some instances, and the person will have to live with it for the time being.
Suppose you have gynecomastia due to an illness; it will go away as soon as the sickness has been dealt with. Unfortunately, in both these instances, it isn’t easy to pinpoint when it goes away.
Factors That Affect The Duration
The duration of gynecomastia will depend on the cause, the solution, and the patient’s health. The sooner the hormone imbalance can be solved, the sooner it will go away.
- Cause – some causes of gynecomastia are more accessible to treat than others and will give faster results.
- Solution – Suppose the answer is medication. The duration might be faster than for a person whose cause was medication. Others might need to start a diet and healthy lifestyle, which can take a few months before it alleviates gynecomastia.
- Patient’s health – some patients are unhealthy and sick and cannot stop using medication that gives them gynecomastia. They first need to heal or get well before they can do something about it.
Treatment Options For Gynecomastia
Luckily, gynecomastia is a benign occurrence that is treatable and not permanent. However, some causes need different treatments than others, and some need time to go away independently.
Medications To Treat Gynecomastia
Gynecomastia can be painful, swollen, and sensitive under clothes. Some doctors might prescribe medication to relieve the patient of gynecomastia symptoms. Still, in other cases, it is best to leave it be.
For puberty patients, doctors won’t prescribe anything. This is because they are still in hormonal changes, and medication can meddle with the body’s adjustment.
Some medications that can help the symptoms of gynecomastia:
- Estrogen blockers such as Tamoxifen and Raloxifene
- Radiation therapy in prostate cancer patients
- Testosterone therapy (TRT)
A doctor will prescribe estrogen blockers to adults suffering from gynecomastia for three months to try and alleviate the pain. With this, the patient should consider alternative measures to ensure the gynecomastia doesn’t return. Opt to work on your lifestyle and health to keep your hormone balance in check.
Radiation in prostate cancer patients can reduce the pain of gynecomastia, but only if the hard glandular tissue isn’t too evolved. Suppose this is the case, a more potent dose of radiation might do the trick, but in most cases, it doesn’t.
Testosterone therapy would be helpful for patients with a deficient testosterone level. It will help bump it up to regain the correct hormone balance. A doctor administers this every month in the form of injections.
Surgery To Treat Gynecomastia
Doctors and specialists don’t recommend surgery for gynecomastia because it can be managed and removed through other measures. However, in some cases where the cause is unknown, the patient can get surgery to cut out the swollen glands.
In obese patients or patients that had gynecomastia for over a year with no success in other medication, surgery will be an option. They will remove the affected glands surgically and use liposuction to remove excess fat cells for an overall smaller breast.
Tips For Living With Gynecomastia
The best option to get rid of or prevent gynecomastia is to keep your lifestyle healthy. Our bodies work like well-oiled machines. Giving it the quality and nutritious food, exercise, and sleep it needs will ensure it functions optimally without any imbalances causing you pain and discomfort.
Diet And Exercise
Diet and exercise are crucial for preventing gynecomastia because of aromatase activity. It is an enzyme process in the body, and excessive fat cells increase it to take testosterone and change it into estrogen. Thus, keeping your fat levels low will decrease the chances of gynecomastia.
For your diet, you should focus on the following to increase testosterone production:
- Prevent excessive alcohol consumption
- Appropriate protein intake
- Vitamin D
- Egg yolks
Exercise is essential to lower your overall body fat. Try to increase your aerobic workouts to 3 times a week and focus on intensity and duration. Increasing your muscular strength also leads to more caloric burn and boosts your self-esteem.
Wear Compression Garments
There is a big market for gynecomastia compression vests. These can be helpful to those that have visually enlarged breasts but not, particularly sensitivity and pain. On the other hand, those who experience discomfort might have even more pain with these vests.
A better alternative would be to stay clear of white and tight-fitting shirts or tops. Instead, go for darker colors, multiple layers, and loose fitting for the most comfort and slightest irritation.
In the world of hormones, gynecomastia lurks around the corner. Still, it is nothing to be embarrassed about or to freak out about, especially as a teenager. However, if you feel anxious about gynecomastia, you should visit a doctor to discuss the causes, treatments, and prevention.