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What Is Gynecomastia?

Sometimes, guys develop breasts during puberty. This is called gynecomastia (pronounced: guy-nuh-ko-MAS-tee-uh). It's usually due to normal hormone changes during puberty, and almost always goes away on its own within a few months to a couple of years.

What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Gynecomastia?

Gynecomastia causes breast enlargement. It can happen in one or both breasts. Sometimes a small, rubbery lump can be felt under the nipple. The breast area might feel sore, especially in the months after gynecomastia begins.

What Causes Gynecomastia?

During the tumultuous period of puberty, adolescent boys may experience an imbalance in their hormones which can lead to gynecomastia. Unfortunately for many young men, this isn't just a natural part of growing up; use or misuse of certain drugs and medications such as alcohol, marijuana, herbal supplements (tea tree oil & lavender oil), steroids and amphetamines may increase risk factors even further. In some cases however it could be indicative of underlying medical conditions – making professional consultation essential when dealing with these matters.* 

*Note: This output was not meant to replace advice given by a doctor/medical professional but only serve as interesting information on health topics related to adolescents

There's also something called pseudogynecomastia (or false gynecomastia). This has nothing to do with puberty or hormones. It's when some guys have extra fat in the chest area that makes it look like they have breasts. A health care provider's exam can tell whether a guy has gynecomastia or pseudogynecomastia.

Who Gets Gynecomastia?

About half of all guys going through puberty get gynecomastia in one or both breasts.

How Is Gynecomastia Diagnosed?

Health care providers diagnose gynecomastia by asking questions and doing an exam. Usually no other testing is needed, but sometimes blood tests are done.

How Is Gynecomastia Treated?

Gynecomastia usually goes away without medical treatment. The breasts flatten out within a few months to a couple of years.

If gynecomastia is very severe, there is medicine that can help. And if gynecomastia lasts past puberty, surgery can reduce the size of the breasts.

What Can I Do?

Even though it's just a temporary change for most teens, some guys with gynecomastia might feel embarrassed or self-conscious about their appearance. Many guys find that wearing loose-fitting shirts helps make it less noticeable until the breasts shrink.

If you have gynecomastia and it really bothers you, or has lasted more than about 2 years, talk to your health care provider about possible treatments.