What is the function of mammary glands in males?
Some men may suffer from enlarged breasts, which causes them a lot of embarrassment and sometimes pain. Read more about this topic in the following article.
The growth of the mammary glands in men
It is normal for the male’s breast size to be small, in addition to his inability to secrete milk, as the size and structure of the breast differs in a man from his female counterpart; It consists of atrophic mammary glands.
Breast size is related to the levels of male and female hormones in the body; The testosterone hormone keeps the breasts small and the mammary glands atrophied in men, while the estrogen hormone stimulates the growth of breast tissue.
Usually, the human body secretes both types of these two hormones, whether in the male or the female, but in different proportions. Where testosterone is secreted in a large amount in a man’s body compared to estrogen, which is secreted in very small proportions, while the opposite occurs in a woman’s body.
An imbalance between these hormones leads to an increase in the growth of the mammary glands in the man and thus the enlargement of the breast size, which leads to the emergence of a condition called gynecomastia in men.
Causes of gynecomastia in men
There are many factors that lead to the growth of the mammary glands in men, the most important of which are:
Low level of testosterone in the body due to several reasons, including:
- Hormonal disorders as a result of a tumor in the pituitary gland or an increase in the proportion of the hormone prolactin .
- Radiation and chemotherapy for cancer.
- Testicular injury.
- Genetic disorders, such as Klinefelter syndrome and Kallmann syndrome that lead to hypogonadism.
- Some chronic diseases such as kidney and liver disease.
- Obesity and increased body fat percentage, which leads to an increase in estrogen.
- Some herbal products contain lavender or tea tree oil, which have estrogen-like activity.
- Drugs such as heroin and marijuana.
- A side effect of a group of medicines, such as:
- Some treatments for cardiovascular disease.
- Certain psychological treatments, such as antipsychotics and antidepressants.
- some anabolic drugs (Amphetamine) and anabolic steroids that are used by some athletes and bodybuilders; To improve their athletic performance and increase muscle mass.
- Treatments for enlarged prostate or prostate cancer.
- Some types of antibiotics and antacids.
How to diagnose gynecomastia in men
To differentiate between gynecomastia caused by the growth of the mammary glands in men and breast enlargement caused by excess fatty tissue only, which is called pseudogynecomastia, the doctor usually reviews the patient’s health history, determines a list of medications that are taken, and does a clinical examination of the patient . The doctor may also order several tests, including:
- blood tests; To check the level of hormones in the body.
- Certain imaging tests, such as a testicular ultrasound.
- Breast tissue biopsy.
Gynecomastia treatment for men
The treatment of mammary gland growth in men depends on the causative factor of this condition, as follows:
- If the patient takes some medications that cause this condition, the doctor may stop them and replace them with alternative ones if possible.
- If there is an underlying health condition behind the problem of gynecomastia, such as hypogonadism or excess prolactin, then full treatment of this condition is required.
- There are some medications that help stop the effect of estrogen in the breast that are used in some cases of cancer, but they have not been approved for use in gynecomastia by the US Food and Drug Administration.
- Surgical intervention to remove breast gland tissue.
Sometimes, breastfed babies may develop enlarged breasts as a result of the effect of estrogen in the mother’s body. Also, a number of males in puberty suffer from the possibility of gynecomastia, as a result of the hormonal change accompanying this stage. This problem often goes away without the need for treatment within a period of time if there is no other cause.