Gynecomastia, sometimes known as simply “gyno”, is the enlargement of male breast tissue. Although gynecomastia usually affects both breasts, it may also be one-sided, or unilateral. The condition is widespread and prevalent, with varying estimates reporting that between 60-75% of men will suffer from gynecomastia at some point during their lives.

Enlarged breasts in men are rarely pathologic. While gynecomastia can indicate a more serious underlying problem such as a tumor, the vast majority of cases result from more benign causes. However, no matter the cause, gynecomastia can have a profoundly negative impact on self-confidence and self-esteem. This is aggravated by the fact that gynecomastia often first appears during puberty, a tumultuous time during an adolescent’s life. Social ridicule and bullying may result from the abnormal appearance of enlarged breasts in a young man.

Types of Gynecomastia

There are two main forms of gynecomastia – pseudogynecomastia and true gynecomastia. Pseudo-gynecomastia almost always results from obesity, where excess fat is deposited in the breast area. True gynecomastia, on the other hand, has a hormonal source and can affect boys and men of any weight. Both types may be either symmetrical or asymmetrical and unilateral or bilateral. Check how to get rid of man boobs.

Factors Causing Gynecomastia

So what causes gynecomastia? There are a surprisingly large number of factors that may contribute to the formation of gynecomastia. These include:

  • Obesity
  • Hormonal changes or imbalances from:
    • Certain types of cancer
    • Chronic kidney problems
    • Liver disease
    • Birth
    • Puberty
    • Aging
    • Certain syndromes
    • Surgical removal of certain organs
  • External factors like:
    • Drugs or medications
    • Food and drink