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Men who wish to better improve their chests are often discouraged when they begin developing female breasts instead. Known as gynecomastia, this condition becomes far easier to treat when it is caught early, which is why men should look for key changes in their breasts that include erect nipples.
Some doctors believe that gynecomastia results from an alteration in the estrogen-to-androgen ratio, or by a decrease in testosterone that is accompanied by an increase in estrogen. As such, men who take anabolic steroids often experience gynecomastia. Those affected can experience more severe symptoms when taking higher than the recommended dosage of steroids or failing to cycle on and off appropriately. Gynecomastia can also result from being overweight or as a side effect of taking certain medications. It can even be a sign of male breast cancer; however, this is very rare as only around 0.8% of breast cancer patients are men.
Many men first become aware of gynecomastia when they begin forming breast tissue. In many cases, males may experience erect nipples that remain so for extended periods of time long before breasts are visible. This is often due to a button-like growth underneath the nipple and areola. As a result, the nipples may become erect without being stimulated or may take on a puffy or swollen experience. This condition is typically followed by extensive growth of the breast ducts and the development of connective tissue surrounding them, which indicates that full gynecomastia has set in.
Aside from erect nipples and breast growth, there are a few other symptoms to look for. For example, the breasts and/or nipples may not only be swollen or erect, but could also feel tender or sore. A rare but serious side effect involves discharge or bleeding from one or more nipples. Some men experience gynecomastia in only one breast, while others are affected unilaterally. As such, patients should not forego treatment just because both breasts are not affected.
Even though male breast cancer is rare, Dr. Melissa Conrad-Stoppler reports that men with gynecomastia are five times more likely to develop it. Men who are experiencing gynecomastia should obtain a thorough medical examination to determine its cause, as only then can the right treatment be prescribed. A doctor might ask a patient to stop taking certain medications, or may prescribe danazol or letrozole to help with the condition. Steroid users might have to modify their usage or forego taking them altogether until symptoms have subsided. Surgery could be needed to remove tumors or better shape the chest after significant weight loss has occurred.
Gynecomastia treatment is largely very successful, which means that this condition is only temporary for most men. Even so, it is important to recognize the early signs of gynecomastia such as erect nipples, as even those who have been treated successfully may still experience it again in the future.