The Robinson Library >> Medicine >> Diseases of the Genitourinary System

[gIn i kO mas' tE uh] an abnormal enlargement of one or both breasts in men

Gynecomastia usually involves only the nipple area and nearby tissue of one breast, but in some cases the whole breast region may be enlarged to such a degree that it takes on the appearance of female breasts. In rare cases a milk-like substance may be produced. True gynecomastia is caused by a hormonal imbalance wherein the body is producing too much estrogen (a female hormone) relative to androgen (a male hormone). It is most commonly seen in boys going through puberty, and in elderly men. Enlarged breasts caused by an increase in fatty tissue, such as seen in obese men, is known as pseudogynecomastia.

normal male breast on left, gynecomastia breast on right

Most cases of gynecomastia resolve themselves without treatment, but when the condition persists for more than a year or so a doctor will often check for other underlying conditions that may be causing the hormone imbalance. Causes of hormone imbalance include malnutrition, cirrhosis of the liver, and the use of certain illicit drugs, steroids, and some medications. In these cases the cause of the hormone imbalance must be addressed first, then the gynecomastia itself. Removal of tissue and/or a type of liposuction is generally called for if hormone therapy does not resolve the condition and the patient is experiencing discomfort. Gynecomastia is also a symptom of Klinefelter Syndrome, which is a genetic disorder.

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Klinefelter Syndrome

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The Robinson Library >> Medicine >> Diseases of the Genitourinary System

This page was last updated on 07/28/2017.