Man boobs, often referred to as moobs, are enlarged breasts in boys and men caused due to a condition called gynecomastia. It is a fairly common condition that causes boys’ and mens’ breasts to swell and become larger than normal. Traditionally, moobs or man boobs have been associated with obesity. Overweight and obese people are more likely to have this condition, but slender men can have them too. It is most common in teenage boys and older men. In recent times, man boobs are being considered as a part of what is popularly referred to as dad bod. However, neither man boobs nor dad bods are healthy.
What is Gynecomastia?
Gynecomastia, also spelled as gynecomastia, is a condition wherein the glandular tissue in male breasts grows excessively, thereby developing larger breasts than what men should have. It is the excessive tissue that adds to the bulk and also the enlarged shape. It should be noted that the excessive growth of the tissue is not as simple as a case of excess fat. Men who have excess fat in their chest will have man boobs too. But the tissue growth is fuelled largely by a reduction in the secretion of testosterone and an increase in the secretion of estrogen.
In simpler words, gynecomastia is a condition caused by swollen breast tissue in males, which is triggered by hormone imbalances. Pseudogynecomastia is another condition that has similar symptoms as that of gynecomastia. Men who have larger breasts due to excessive fat and not due to the swelling of the breast tissue are dealing with pseudogynecomastia. I will go over how to determine if you have Gynecomastia or chest fat later on in this article. It’s also important to know that, gynecomastia may not always be due to the imbalance of testosterone and estrogen. Drugs and medicines can cause this condition as one of its side effects. Some medicines have an adverse impact on testosterone production and hence there is a natural surge in the levels of estrogen. Have a look at the image below to some of the drugs and medicines that might lead to this side effect.
Symptoms of Man Boobs
The most common symptom of gynecomastia, pseudogynecomastia and man boobs is breast enlargement. The breast will swell and it can take odd forms. It is not necessary for man boobs to be smaller versions of female boobs. Man boobs are not always round or circular. They may have various shapes depending on where and to what extent the gland tissue in the breast has swollen and is enlarged. Another common symptom is tenderness. Unlike in a woman, a man does have a tender chest. Even women tend to have some tenderness only in the breasts and not other parts of the chest, be it the midriff or the sides. Man boobs can cause tenderness in the breasts and in the midriff or sides, at times both.
Man boobs are harmless, most of the time. The growth of the tissue is benign. However, serious cases of swelling may cause pain. The tenderness can be severe and the breasts may feel painful to touch. The entire area can be too sensitive. Some men experience nipple discharge. The discharge could be from one or both the breasts. If any of these symptoms are encountered and they do not subside quickly, one must seek medical care. Consult a doctor immediately if you experience substantial pain.
The nature of the symptoms of man boobs will depend on the severity of gynecomastia and other facts that affect the condition. For instance, young men in their adolescence are more vulnerable to moobs due to the hormonal turmoil their bodies naturally undergo. Older men are also more vulnerable to gynecomastia due to a natural dip in testosterone. Additionally, diseases of the liver/kidney/testicle, thyroid imbalances, and the usage of drugs can significantly increase the chance of getting the condition. Newborns also have swollen breast tissue due to the estrogen passed on from the mother. Man boobs should subside naturally in newborns and adolescent males. The hormonal imbalance is naturally corrected. Man boobs in older people are harder to get rid of. If young adults or men in their thirties and forties get man boobs, then the case of gynecomastia is not that easy to deal with. There should be concerted attempts to not just regulate the symptoms but to know how to get rid of man boobs.
Gynecomastia vs. Chest Fat
Gynecomastia is not the same as chest fat. The gland tissue is not adipose. It is regulated more by hormones. Adipose is largely regulated by the liver, how it processes fat, how much calories you are consuming, metabolism, lifestyle choices and overall health including specific medical conditions you may have but are unaware of.
Overweight or obese men who have excessive fat in their chest do not always have gynecomastia. They have pseudogynecomastia. It is possible for a man to have both gynecomastia and pseudogynecomastia. These cases are worse as the breasts can be unnaturally enlarged. Swollen tissues and excess adipose or fat can transform male breasts to almost as large as female breasts, in some cases larger. The shapes are also going to be more concerning. The enlarged breasts will be heavy, they may sag or have protruding areolas and they are uncomfortable, unsightly and at times painful.
Both chest fat and gynecomastia can be triggered and worsened by lifestyle choices, from alcoholism to lack of sleep, poor diet to excessive use of cosmetics or grooming products, declining libido and use of steroids. Medication can have an adverse effect. Underlying health problems such as liver disease or poor kidney functions can cause moobs. Klinefelter syndrome increases the likelihood of man boobs. Men born with an additional x chromosome have Klinefelter syndrome.
Complications of Gynecomastia
Gynecomastia and pseudogynecomastia pose several challenges. Young boys or teenagers going through puberty are embarrassed about man boobs. They face bullying and their self-esteem suffers. Young adults and those in their thirties through forties also suffer from poor self-esteem due to man boobs. If gynecomastia is painful and the breasts are unusually tender, then performing certain tasks or engaging in some strenuous activities can be difficult. Men who have excessively enlarged boobs may find it difficult to move around with as much agility as others who do not have swollen breasts.
There are some serious complications of gynecomastia and excessive fat in the chest. If you have any liver diseases or the organ is just failing to process fat, then there is more to the condition than meets the eye. Your concern should not only be the visibly swollen and enlarged breasts but the liver problem. The same is true if you have poor kidney functions. If these vital organs are not functioning perfectly then there is a risk of diabetes, chronic high blood pressure, and chronic high bad cholesterol and there could be a heart disease developing as a result. While the visible problem is concerning, you should note there are other potentially serious complications.
1) Surgery to Get Rid of Man Boobs
Surgically removing swollen gland tissues in the breast is one option but it is the riskiest choice. There can be several complications. Surgery is an expensive procedure. Many men require more than one surgery. The cost can easily escalate to ten thousand dollars or more. Not everyone is in perfect health to qualify for surgery. Surgically removing the tissues does not get rid of excess fat. Surgery has side effects, from immediate complications to long term implications. It is also possible that benign tissue will turn malignant if a surgery is attempted and is unsuccessful.
2) Natural Solutions for Man Boobs
There are many natural remedies for gynecomastia. They are safer, inexpensive and effective. Some natural remedies are very convenient and others require a bit of effort. How to get rid of man boobs naturally includes exercises, compression shirts, treatment creams or pills, home remedies, hormone therapy and changes to diet & lifestyle.
Whether it is gynecomastia or pseudogynecomastia, one must lose weight. There should be a regular workout routine. The objective is to have a body mass index of twenty-five or less. Cardio exercises and weight training are effective at reducing man boobs. There are many specific exercises you should try. The most effective workouts are bench press, chest press, chest fly, pushup, landmine press, chest pass, typewriter pushup, ring dips, split jacks, burpees, box jump, ball slam, goblet squat, rowing, spider plank, skull crusher and triceps pushdown.
There are medicines that can restore the balance of testosterone and estrogen. Hormone therapy is quite effective but stay away from steroids. Review your lifestyle and diet. You should prioritize your microbiome health. Focus more on micronutrients than macronutrients. Micronutrients are the essential nutrients that the body cannot produce. Avoid processed foods. Exclude white bread and pasta, all forms of flour and alcohol from your diet. Even beer, which is a moderate alcoholic beverage, is a trigger. Beer has a direct effect on estrogen production. You will not only struggle to get rid of man boobs but also develop a beer belly if you do not ease up.
Ensure eight hours of sleep. Avoid foods that are rich in phytoestrogens. These are natural estrogens found in a few foods such as soybeans, soymilk and tofu, inorganic meats and their derivatives, dairy and vegetables & fruits contaminated with pesticides. Do not use bottles or other materials that contain bisphenol-A or BPA. It tends to reduce the testosterone production in men and can affect fertility. Be careful when you choose grooming products, including perfumes or deodorants and aftershave. Many grooming essentials including soaps, sunscreens, gels, shampoos, and conditioners contain phthalates that can cause hormone imbalance.