Gynecomastia is a condition in men in which the glandular tissues in the breast starts growing, causing discomfort or nipple tenderness. It is a common pubertal occurrence caused due to hormonal imbalance among males, typically happens during infancy, adolescence, or mid to late life. Gynecomastia is different from breast enlargement which is caused due to fat deposits in obese males. Approximately 70% of boys experience Gynecomastia in early to mid-puberty because of normal hormonal changes.
COMMON CAUSES OF GYNECOMASTIA
It is believed that androgens (such as testosterone) are “male hormones” and estrogens are “female hormones”. Though both the sexes produce both types of hormones, androgens are the predominant hormone in males and estrogen is present in very small amounts. Gynecomastia happens when there is a shift in the hormonal balance, with an increase in estrogen or a decrease in androgens. This can occur due to expected hormonal changes during puberty or aging. It can also be caused due to the use of certain drugs or herbal products.
Thus, the most common causes of Gynecomastia in adult men include:
- Pubertal Gynecomastia: This type is usually resolved without treatment within 6 months to 2 years. This condition sometimes develops between age groups 10 and 12 years and commonly occurs between ages 13 and 14 years. The condition continues until 17 years.
- Drugs or Herbal Products: Drugs like Spironolactone, Ketoconazole, and Cimetidine that are taken to treat other conditions may cause Gynecomastia as a side-effect. Continuous use of skincare products such as lotions, soaps, and shampoos containing tea tree oil and lavender oil may cause Gynecomastia as these oils contain plant estrogens which can affect the body’s hormone balance.
- Unknown causes (idiopathic): Gynecomastia is caused in mid to late life is still unknown. It is believed, blood testosterone levels tend to decline in aging men causing hormonal imbalance due to a higher amount of estrogen-to-testosterone ratio. This could be the reason for most cases of “idiopathic” Gynecomastia.
GYNECOMASTIA TREATMENT THROUGH TAMOXIFEN
Tamoxifen is a selective estrogen receptor modulator (SERM) and approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).Tamoxifen for men blocks estrogen receptors on breast cells. By blocking these estrogen receptors, these drugs stop estrogen from joining to the breast cells, which stops cell growth. It serves as an antiandrogen treatment. It is available in two forms: a pill that is taken once a day and a liquid form. The dosage of Tamoxifen is based on your medical condition and response to treatment.
Tamoxifen may cause a few side-effects in men:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Skin rash
- Sexual side effects like erectile dysfunction or a lower sex drive
So, it can be concluded that Gynecomastia in adult boys is usually caused due to puberty-related hormonal changes. Though it gets resolved with time and body changes, but in extremely painful conditions, health experts might recommend Tamoxifen. On the other hand, Gynecomastia in adult men may be caused due to an underlying health problem or continuous use of a drug. In this case, treating the underlying condition or stop taking drug usually resolve Gynecomastia.