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Male breasts - gynaecomastia

breast; gynaecomastia; gynecomastia; hormones; puberty; male; boy; nipple; skin; female; sexuality; body; chest; boobs; man;

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As if puberty is not hard enough on guys. Going through all the different changes. Your voice changes, you grow facial hair and then it seems as though you might be growing breasts. What’s going on?

It is actually normal for young men - about 65% of 14 year old males get some breast tissue. The hormones that cause all of the other changes in puberty can cause this too. It is also normal for young men to worry about this - but it will always go away and does not need any treatment.

Gynaecomastia (guy-nee-co-mas-ti-a) is the medical term for breast tissue growing on a male.  

Breast tissue growth for older males can be caused by other health problems, or by medicines that are needed to treat some health problems, or by use of some drugs such as anabolic steroids. This is different to the normal growth of breast tissue in young men around puberty. Men who are overweight can develop 'man boobs', but this is caused by fat deposits, not breast tissue growth. 

What does it look like?

It normally looks like a slight swelling under the nipples. One breast may develop on its own, or both may grow a little. Sometimes it can be tender or itchy.

It starts like breast development does for girls, but it stops when it is still a small lump. It does not keep growing.

Even though it might seem very obvious to you, most other people will not notice it. It should be hardly noticeable under your clothes. If you are worried about how it looks when you take your top off, for example when you go swimming, wear a t-shirt. This will protect other parts of your body from getting sun burnt too, which is always good!

How long will it last?

It always goes away.

The swelling should go down within a year or two, and it is virtually always gone before the age of 20 years.

Should I see a doctor?

Anyone who has a worry about his health should talk to someone about it. A doctor can examine you and make sure that there is no other reason for the growth of the breast tissue. It is rare that any tests will be needed.

Your doctor will be able to answer any other questions you may also have.

Resources

South Australia

  • The Youth Health Service
    - Central: 57 Hyde St, Adelaide
    - South: 50a Beach Rd, Christies Beach
    - North: 6 Gillingham Rd, Elizabeth
  • SHine SA
    http://www.shinesa.org.au/
    • Sexual healthline 1300 883 793 or 1800 883 793 for country callers only
  • Your family doctor.

References

American Academy of Family Physicians. 
http://familydoctor.org/online/famdocen/home.html

The Nemours Foundation
www.kidshealth.org/teen

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The information on this site should not be used as an alternative to professional care. If you have a particular problem, see a doctor, or ring the Youth Healthline on 1300 13 17 19 (local call cost from anywhere in South Australia).
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