Both women and men have breast tissue, but society generally expects this area of the body to develop differently during puberty. Women’s breasts functionally are designed to carry milk and to provide sustenance to babies. A rounded, soft and full appearance is desired based on society’s typical standards. Male breasts, on the other hand, should be taut across the pectoral muscle. While this is the case for many men, the reality is that millions of teenage boys and men have “man boobs” or “moobs.”
When many people think about men with enlarged breasts, they assume that this condition is linked to being overweight. Extra body fat can increase estrogen production, but this is not the universal cause for all cases of gynecomastia. During puberty, boys generally produce testosterone, which is responsible for many of the gender-specific traits associated with men. Likewise, girls produce more estrogen, which is responsible for breast growth and other changes. Both sexes naturally and normally produce trace amounts of hormones associated with the opposite sex. In boys and men who produce more estrogen, breast tissue often grows. This condition is so common that as many as 50 percent of male adolescents suffer from it to varying degrees.
Later in life, hormonal changes lead to decreased testosterone production in men as well as increased estrogen production. Because of this, the number of older men with gynecomastia increases to approximately two-thirds. This causes some men to develop large breasts. Large areola and puffy nipples are also common, and they draw attention to male breasts even when the man is wearing a shirt.
Bullying and Its Profound Effects
Despite the prevalence of this condition, adolescent and adult males who have this condition are unfortunately often bullied. Many online dictionaries include definitions for the term “moobs”. As a result, it is part of modern vernacular and frequently used. Name-calling begins as soon as swollen nipples and breasts are visible during or after puberty for many boys. It often extends throughout a lifetime. Even if breasts are exceptionally large because of extra body fat, losing fat does not usually reduce the visibility of the breasts.
Some people use hurtful words and names to intentionally ridicule a man with gynecomastia, and even friends and family members may not notice how hurtful this can be. Anxiety and even depression are common in boys and men with this condition. Some people become so distraught over their condition that they have contemplated physically cutting their extra breast tissue off themselves. Bullying also comes in the form of physical sexual harassment. For example, some males with this condition have their puffy nipples tweaked in the locker room or their entire breasts groped.
What You Can Do About Your Enlarged Male Breasts
Gynecomastia is most commonly associated with hormones related to aging and puberty are. Liver disease, some types of cancer, illicit drug use, thyroid conditions, and certain prescription medications can also cause larger male breasts. As soon as you notice breast enlargement, consult with your doctor to rule out serious underlying medical conditions. You should also discuss changes to any prescription medications that you are taking.
The condition resolves on its own over a period of several years for some adolescents and men. This alleviation of symptoms sometimes occurs naturally or through the use of hormone supplements or other prescribed medications. In some cases, it persists for a lifetime and only the surgical removal of the breast tissue or excess fat over the breast tissue can permanently alleviate the condition.
There are a few easier alternatives to consider before you schedule surgery. Regardless of how significant the problem is, compression shirts are a feasible and affordable solution. A compression shirt will place pressure against the body to eliminate the breasts’ visibility to others. If puffy nipples are problematic and breast tissue is not a concern, nipple covers are available that produce the same results. Some men do eventually seek surgery if the condition persists for many years, and they can use compression shirts and nipple covers to improve their physical appearance and their confidence level in the meantime. Other men are so thrilled with the benefits that these garments provide that surgery is no longer a serious consideration.
If your enlarged breasts and swollen nipples are the focal point for bullies or are a cause for self-ridicule, you can do something about it. Compression garments provide immediate results, so they are a great starting point regardless of your age.