Causes of Gynecomastia During Puberty
Puberty strikes most boys and girls between the ages of eleven and fourteen. During this growing stage in life, hormones may fluctuate significantly.
The adolescent male will see a large increase in the production of testosterone with a slight increase in the production of estrogen as well. Other factors include insulin growth factor production, as seen in this recent study. For some young men, these hormonal changes affect the breast tissue and is one of the causes of gynecomastia.
Exact Causes of Gynecomastia Are Unknown
The medical profession hasn't quite honed in on the exact causes of gynecomastia, although there are a few theories; all relating to hormones. One theory is that the excess estrogen is enough to put some boys over the edge in terms of breast tissue.
Another thought is that the simple hormonal imbalance between estrogen and testosterone is the cause. Still another study says it's potentially the insulin growth factor levels. Lastly, it could be that breast tissue is just extremely sensitive in some males and the minute amount of estrogen production encourages the growth of that breast tissue.
Video: Link Between Melatonin and Gynecomastia in Teens
Genetic Factors Play a Role
Genes may also play a role in whether or not adolescent gynecomastia occurs in a young man. In families where one male family member has had the condition, the risk is certainly higher.
Regardless of exact cause, adolescent gynecomastia tends to gradually appear, with one or both breasts growing slightly larger. Often, the breasts will become tender to the touch as well.
In our gynecomastia New York practice, we have seen boys present with varying degrees of excess breast tissue. No patient is the same.
Some show a small nub of firm breast tissue just around the areola or nipples with a puffy appearance, while others experience excess tissue similar to that of the female breast.
As with adult patients in our gynecomastia New York practice, the adolescent may be slender in build or may experience this condition in addition to excess weight. When weight is a factor, the condition is called adipo-gynecomastia, as excess fat and breast tissue mold together.
What's Really Important
Regardless of the causes of gynecomastia in adolescents, the result is similar in all young men. During this time of life, social development is paramount, and the presence of gynecomastia can place a very large burden on still-young shoulders.
The adolescent with gynecomastia may feel embarrassment and even shame for his condition. Others who do not understand the science may tease or bully the young man with "man boobs"; behavior that can lead to lasting emotional scars.
Even the medical profession itself has somewhat left the young gynecomastia patient to fend for himself. It has been thought that the condition will clear up on its own; which can be true in some cases.
When a boy has experienced gynecomastia for a period of two years or longer, however, chances are it will continue into adulthood. In such cases, a visit to one of our gynecomastia New York practices may be in order.
Treating gynecomastia in young men is just as important as treating an adult with the condition. A man needs to feel confident in his appearance. Leaving a young man to live with the condition of gynecomastia can impact both his social interactions as well as his self-confidence.