With puberty comes a number of changes to the body. It may seem like every day you see something new in your body like facial hair or deepening of your voice. Sometimes, teenage boys may experience another change that comes in the form of breast tissue enlargement.
Although breasts do not develop in boys like they do for girls, all boys are born with a small amount of breast tissue. A boy’s body makes the testosterone hormone which guides his sexual growth when going through puberty. However, there is also the presence of the female sexual growth hormone, estrogen. When going through puberty, it is possible that a hormonal imbalance occurs, resulting in an increase in estrogen, leading to a swelling in the breast tissue. If you are experiencing this, you are not alone. Almost 50 percent of adolescent boys develop gynecomastia to some degree.
What causes gynecomastia?
There can be a number of factors that that can cause gynecomastia in teens, however, the exact cause can be difficult to determine. In addition to puberty, here are some factors that can result in gynecomastia:
- An injury to the testicles which make testosterone or a disease affecting it.
- Problems of the thyroid, the gland which controls sexual development.
- Obesity which leads to an increase in estrogen.
- Certain medications like those for depression, cancer, ulcers or heart disease.
- Drugs like heroin or steroids.
What are the symptoms and treatment?
The first sign of gynecomastia you may see could be a lump of fatty tissue under the nipple. The swelling in the breasts may be uneven as one becomes larger than the other. When diagnosed with gynecomastia, you may be referred to an endocrinologist who is a specialist that treats problems related to hormones.
Usually, gynecomastia that happens during puberty goes away on its own. It may take about 6 months for some while it could take 3 years for others. If the condition is making you feel self-conscious, you could wear loose fitting shirts to make your condition less noticeable till it goes away. You can also get medication to address the hormonal imbalance. If the condition continues to bother you, talk to your doctor. In some cases, the breasts tissue can be removed surgically.
You must also be aware of another condition called pseudogynecomastia, which happens due to the extra fat in your chest area. This has no connection to your hormones and your doctor will be able to help determine whether you have gynecomastia or pseudogynecomastia. If you have any concerns about your condition, talk to your doctor but do keep in mind that gynecomastia is a part of puberty and most often goes away on its own without any intervention.