What Are Enlarged Breasts?

Men may experience enlarged breasts as a result of hormonal changes associated with aging.
Enlarged breasts can affect both men and women.
Article Details
  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 04 August 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Enlarged breasts can affect both men and women. In males, it is a condition called gynecomastia, which is often caused by a hormonal imbalance. In women, it can be caused by a hormonal imbalance as well and is often associated with perimenopause, which is the stage leading up to menopause. In some cases, what appears to be enlarged breast tissue is actually the formation of a cyst or other type of abnormal growth. Sometimes enlarged breasts are accompanied by pain or discomfort in the area.

When a man or boy has enlarged breasts, he is said to have gynecomastia. This condition occurs when estrogen and testosterone become imbalanced in the male body. The condition is frequently seen in newborn male babies and boys that are going through the natural changes of puberty. Older men may experience it as well as a result of hormonal changes associated with aging.

In some cases, enlarged male breasts may result from the use of hormone medications, antibiotics, anxiety and depression medications, antibiotics, and drugs used to treat ulcers, cancers, and certain types of heart conditions. It may even occur as the result of other health conditions, such as kidney and liver failure, malnutrition, thyroid problems, and disorders that interfere with the production of testosterone.

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Besides swelling of the breast tissue, a male with enlarged breasts may also experience tenderness or discomfort in the area. Any pain or nipple discharge should be reported to a doctor right away. Often, men and boys are embarrassed by this condition, but they can take heart in the fact that it is treatable. There are medications that can help to balance hormone levels in the body and reduce the size of the male’s breasts. Sometimes surgery is a viable option as well.

Women may also experience enlarged breasts. Though it may not result in the embarrassment common when it affects men, enlarged breast tissue can be uncomfortable and worrisome. Often, it is caused by dropping progesterone levels in the body, a problem that is frequently seen as women approach menopause. After menopause, some women may continue to experience enlarged breasts because their estrogen levels remain high while their bodies produce smaller amounts of progesterone. In some cases, taking progesterone may help.

Sometimes a person may note that one of his breasts appears enlarged and discover that a tumor is causing the problem. Often, these tumors are benign, which means they are not cancerous. Cancerous tumors can develop in both male and female breasts, however, and it is important to contact a doctor right away if changes in size, shape, or feel occur.

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