Health

Gynecomastia And Low Testosterone Level in Men

Gynecomastia is a condition in which men or boys start developing breasts also known as man boobs. There are a number of reason that contribute to it. But the prime cause of it is low testosterone levels in men. A hormonal imbalance leads to men developing female-like traits which include the development of breasts.

A swelling in the chest region of boys is seen in gynecomastia. This may happen on either side or both sides of the chest. Testosterone is responsible for male physical features and also affects a man’s sex drive and mood. When there’s an imbalance of the body’s hormones in men, including testosterone, gynecomastia can develop and give rise to man boobs or gynecomastia.

Both low testosterone and gynecomastia are often treatable using medicinal treatment or surgical treatment. The wise way to get this done is by first understanding the underlying causes for each condition.

Understanding low T

Testosterone levels normally decrease as men age. This condition is called hypogonadism, or “low T.” According to the Urology Care Foundation, 1 in 4 men over the age of 45 have low T. Having low testosterone levels can lead to several complications:

  • reduced libido
  • low sperm count
  • erectile dysfunction (ED)
  • enlarged male breasts, called gynecomastia

So, aging is the primary factor affecting the level of testosterone in men. As a result of which it is also the major culprit of gynecomastia in men.

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Understanding gynecomastia

The male body produces both testosterone and estrogen, although estrogen is usually found at low levels. Similarly, females also produce both testosterone and estrogen. But they produce estrogen in large quantity. Estrogen is what gives women female characteristics. If a man’s testosterone levels are especially low in comparison to estrogen, or if there is an excess of estrogen activity relative to testosterone, then this get troublesome for him. Then this male is prone to developing man boobs or gynecomastia.

Puberty is one phase in a man’s life when he is prone to develop gynecomastia. There occurs a noticeable change in hormonal activity in the body and gynecomastia may appear. However, it may resolve itself with time and without treatment as it goes away in a few months or weeks on its own. The excess of breast tissue may be equal in both breasts, or there may be more in one breast than the other.

As testosterone levels drop in older men, gynecomastia may develop and persist unless it’s treated. Gynecomastia affects about 1 in 4 men between the ages of 50 and 80. This condition usually isn’t harmful or serious.

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Causes of low T and gynecomastia

Low T is most often simply the result of aging. But underlying health conditions can also be the cause. Other factors that are responsible for causing gynecomastia are as follows-

  • damage to cells in the testes that produce testosterone
  • an accident
  • inflammation (swelling)
  • testicular cancer
  • cancer treatment, including radiation and chemotherapy
  • diseases that affect parts of the brain, such as the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland

Additionally, if you take anabolic steroids, you may also be damaging your body’s ability to manufacture testosterone. Thus, abstain from taking steroids.

Treatment

Treatment for Gynecomastia

Gynecomastia may be treated with medications such as raloxifene (Evista) and tamoxifen (Soltamox). The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved these medications to treat breast cancer, but not gynecomastia. The use of drugs to treat a condition for which they are not FDA-approved is known as an “off-label” use. Off-label treatments may be safe. But one should talk about the use of these medications with one’s doctor before starting treatment.

There exist surgical solutions too. One can either go for a liposuction or a muscle excision surgery. In liposuction, the excessive fat is removed while in the excision method the muscle is cut and the extra glandular tissue is removed.

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Treatment for Low T

In addition to treating gynecomastia, one must first look forward to treating low T. Testosterone levels in men tend to decline with age. That’s why many older men try testosterone replacement therapy. Treatments are available in a variety of forms:

  • skin gels
  • patches
  • injections

Men who receive testosterone replacement therapy usually have noticeable results. They often experience improvement in:

  • energy
  • sex drive
  • erections
  • sleep
  • muscle mass

They may also see a positive change in their outlook and mood. In men who have low T, treatment with testosterone replacement therapy can resolve gynecomastia. Thus, surgical methods have a lasting effect on a man’s body and even cures gynecomastia once and for all.

Side effects of treatment

There are potential side effects to testosterone replacement therapy. Men who have breast cancer or prostate cancer should avoid undergoing testosterone replacement therapy. There has been much controversy about the treatment and it may increase the risk of developing prostate cancer.

In addition, it may increase one’s risk for cardiovascular events, lead to obstructive sleep apnea, and may also cause excess red blood cell production. In order to have a detailed analysis, one must sit with one’s doctor and discuss.

Talk with your doctor

One may feel uncomfortable discussing low testosterone and gynecomastia with a doctor but it should not be so.  According to Boston University School of Medicine, 4 to 5 million men in the United States have low testosterone. This shows that this condition is common and one must not be ashamed of it.

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The takeaway

Low T and gynecomastia are common conditions among men, and it shows after aging. Many treatment options are available which includes surgery and medicinal treatment. Discussing treatment options with one’s doctor can be helpful. Taking help from a therapist can also come in handy.  A support group of other men with gynecomastia may provide you some perspective to help cope with the condition as well. One’s quality of life can improve as low T and gynecomastia are all treatable.

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