Teen Gynecomastia: The Known and Unknown
As if enlarged breasts weren’t frustrating enough for young men, there is much medical professionals still don’t know about the condition.We talk with dozens of adolescents about gynecomastia in New York in our consultation room and online every year.Typically we offer expert advice about treatment; unfortunately there’s not as much information we can give to help with the “why me?” question.
A good example is a conversation we had with a 14 year old on gynecomastia.org recently.He had developed a puffy nipple on just one side of his chest.He asked what the cause might be in hopes of figuring out what he could do about his condition.
Here are some of the factors that complicate this kind of situation:
- Hormonal imbalance:It’s generally accepted that hormones play a role in gynecomastia.Certainly, it seems to be the case that for many, “out of whack” hormones trigger the growth of breast tissue, whether temporary or lasting.But raging or imbalanced hormones simply can’t explain the whole story.In the case of this young man, why did the two sides of his chest develop so differently?
- Genetics: In the three plus decades we have worked with men suffering gynecomastia in New York, we have come to believe strongly that genetics also plays a role.Sadly, there are no studies that examine this theory as far as we’re aware.
- Environmental factors: External factors can also take part in the development of man boobs, whether a young person is experimenting with marijuana or anabolic steroids.But do these substances interact with hormones?How?Do certain factors trigger or exacerbate other factors?No one knows.
We were very interested to meet one young man with gynecomastia a while ago.His father happened to be a pediatric endocrinologist (hormone specialist).He ran tests on his son when the gynecomastia was developing and found no hormonal abnormalities at all.While this is just one data point, it illustrates the notion that we still have much to learn about the causes of enlarged male breasts.
None of this is much comfort, obviously, for young men suffering from moobs at such a critical stage of personal development.The advice we give adolescents as young as 14 is usually:
- Do your research and learn all you can about your condition
- Talk with your parents openly about your physique and your feelings
- Consult a gynecomastia specialist about your options today and in the future
- Wait to see if your moobs subside in a year, if not, surgery may be indicated
- Wear compression garments as needed
- Care for your self esteem