Breasts are normally a typically female feature. However, it is possible for men’s chests to grow. Gynecomastia is a condition that develops in the breast tissue in boys and men. It can occur when the balance of two hormones in the body is disrupted and causes discomfort, or even deeper suffering.
Although breasts do not grow in men as they do in women, under the effect of female hormones, all boys are born with a small amount of breast tissue. The male body mainly produces the hormone testosterone, which regulates their sexual growth during puberty. But men also produce oestrogen – the hormone that stimulates sexual growth in girls.
When a boy goes through puberty or when an older man’s body produces less testosterone, the balance between these two hormones can change.
As a result, a higher percentage of oestrogen makes the male breast tissue swell. This phenomenon is not that rare: around half of all adolescent boys and nearly two thirds of men over the age of 50 suffer from gynecomastia to some extent.
In addition to puberty and aging, other factors can trigger this hormonal imbalance that causes breasts to grow in men, although it is difficult to determine the specific cause. These factors include:
- Injuries or diseases affecting the testicles, which produce testosterone.
- Thyroid problems, because the hormones released by this gland control sexual growth and development.
- Certain cancers.
- Being overweight or obese, which can lead to excess oestrogen production, as well as the appearance of fat deposits in specific areas of the body.
- Certain drugs and/or anabolic steroids.
- Kidney failure or liver disease.
- Pituitary tumor.