Gynecomastia: What is it, What Causes it, & How are they Reduced
By Ali Kuoppala | Last reviewed Mon 24 September 2018
Medical Review by Dr. Stefano Pizzo, MD
Gynecomastia (gyno) is medical term for enlarged male breasts, otherwise known as man boobs, moobs, man breasts, and many other commonly used terms.
It's a highly embarrassing condition, which often makes a man lose all of his confidence towards his body and himself as a person.
The worst part is that the majority of men who struggle with man boobs, don't actually know what causes them and certainly are too embarrassed to seek help.
In this short article, We will be going through the most common causes and possible fixes for gynecomastia, so that no man has to feel confused and lost with the slowly enlarging breast tissue.
What Exactly is Gynecomastia
Gynecomastia, as briefly explained above, is a condition where man starts to grow breast tissue.
Even though you're still a man, your chest begins to slowly resemble that of a woman's.
In extreme cases, gyno can even trigger milk production.
Obviously there are varying degrees of gyno, some unnoticed, some very evident even through thick clothing...
...What most men don't understand is that in adolescent boys, up to 70% suffer from gynecomastia for a while during their maturation process that involves a cluster of hormones.
In majority of guys, it passes in less than two years, but for some men, the condition sticks and can manifest thorough their life if not treated.
What Causes the Growth of Man Boobs
There can be several triggers to the developement of gynecomastia, such as medication, stress, trauma, or tumor growth in any of the endocrine glands.
Opposed to that are the estrogens, which are female sex hormones, responsible for feminizing effects in the body.
Men and women both have androgens and estrogens, but in men, the ratio should heavily favor androgens, while estrogen levels should be relatively low.
In the case of gynecomastia, key features include elevated estrogen levels and suppressed testosterone. That is, high estrogens, low androgens, which causes poor androgen:estrogen ratio.
Simply put, the body over produces the female sex hormones, which actually end up triggering the growth of soft tissue in the chest.
Also note that it doesn't necessarily mean that you need to have low androgen levels to have gyno. Estrogens can shoot up even with high androgen levels, great example of this is the use of steroids without proper anti-estrogen in the cycle.
Another hormone that tends to be elevated in men with gyno is called prolactin. It's a milk producing hormone, that tends to elevate during estrogen dominance.
The bottom line here is that the primary causes of chronic gyno are hormonal. Too much estrogens and prolactin are the key triggers, while low testosterone levels often accompany the two (making matters worse).
How Can You Fix Gynecomastia?
The most extreme and final solution to gyno is often surgery.
A costly and scarring operation that temporarily fixes the issue...
...But if the underlying hormonal imbalances are not treated, the problem will eventually come back.
So would I recommend surgery? Nope. Only if you manage to control the hormonal situation first, and the development of the breast tissue has gone so far that it won't disappear even when the hormones are balanced, then would I recommend it.
Let's get bit deeper into that; how do you actually balance the hormones?
Fix the diet - The foods you eat can have a dramatic influence on your hormonal profile.
Foods like soy, polyunsaturated fatty-acids, licorice, trans-fat, mint, flaxseeds, and some grains can contribute to increased estrogen levels, increased prolactin, and lowered testosterone.
Foods like coconut oil, red meat, potatoes, fruit and pressed fruit juices, coffee, gelatin, raisins, eggs, white button mushrooms, butter, berries, cruciferous vegetables, and pomegranates can effectively increase testosterone and lower estrogen production.
Smart supplementation - There's a huge selection of gynecomastia pills out there on the market. Not that big of a surprise, there's a huge demand for them.
Sadly, most of the supplements are blatant scams and underdosed, poor quality supplements with no effective ingredients. But when there's demand, there's market, in this case - unfortunately - the market is the bad kind.
With that being said, there are a handful of scientifically proven supplements that will help in fixing the androgen to estrogen ratio more in favor of the left:
- Choline acts as a methylator that donates methyl rings to the structurally incomplete estrogen molecules, making it easier for the body to recycle and remove them. Betaine has the exact same mechanism.
- Boron has been found to lower estrogen levels while increasing the androgens testosterone and DHT in human studies.
- IC3 and DIM, extracted from cruciferous vegetables, have been found to suppress the enzyme aromatase (an enzyme that converts testosterone to estrogen), and thus these two can lower estrogen levels.
- Zinc is well-known for its importance in increasing testosterone levels, but little do many people know it actually also reduces the activity of the bodily estrogen receptors and suppresses the aromatase enzyme.
- Grape seed extract and resveratrol both contain flavonoids from red grapes which can inactivate the aromatase enzyme and greatly reduce the conversion from testosterone to estrogen.
Lower estrogen mimic chemical exposure - Chemicals that mimic the activity of estrogen are a little-known danger hiding in canned foods, plastics,a majority of personal care items, some pesticides, and even grocery store receipts. These chemicals like BPA,phthalates, parabens, triclosan and triclocarban, and benzophenones can significantly increase estrogen levels and suppress testosterone production. And avoiding the antiandrogens is pretty simple.
Visit a doctor - I know this isn't what any guy with moobs wants to hear, but visiting a doctor for blood hormone test and MRI check would be advised, since man boobs can be triggered by an endocrine gland tumor that can prove tricky to fix if you don't even know its there. Having frequent blood hormone tests also allows you to monitor your progress.