Gynecomastia (gyno) is the medical term used to describe the swelling of breast tissue in men. All of us have breast tissue lying under the nipple on the chest wall. In both men and women breast tissue grows when exposed to relatively high levels of the ‘female’ hormone estrogen and relatively low levels of the ‘male’ hormone testosterone.

In most men, most of the time, breast tissue is insignificant and does not create any visible swelling. This can change for a range of reasons, resulting in gyno. Gynecomastia is very common in male babies, during puberty and in older men.

In these cases the hormonal balance is temporarily changed and breast tissue grows. In most cases the swelling will eventually go away on its own. Gynecomastia also happens as a side-effect of medication or recreational drugs, due to tumours which produce hormones, in certain rare genetic conditions or as a result of kidney or liver disease.

normal breast and gynecomastia

Many men do not need any specific treatment for gynecomastia. Time and reassurance – plus weight loss (gyno is much more common in overweight men) –  are usually all that is needed. In others, being prescribed medication or eliminating recreational drugs will solve the problem.

In all men, exercises which target the chest area will encourage the development of muscle and improve the aesthetic appearance of the chest.

In all men worried about gynecomastia, a trip to the doctor for a full medical exam is recommended to make sure any worrying causes are ruled out and any simple solutions are tried.

If this doesn’t work, treatments are available and may be used if the swelling is especially significant, persistent or embarrassing.

Gynecomastia medication – How it works

As many cases of gynecomastia are a result of alterations to hormone levels, it makes sense to think that medication to bring hormones back into balance might help. Gynecomastia can result from either a fall in testosterone or a rise in estrogen.

Medication can be given which supplements testosterone or blocks the effect of estrogen to reverse these changes.

Other medications are targeted at reducing the amount of fatty tissue in the breast area. In some men breast swelling can be due to a build-up of only fat (this is called pseudogynecomastia), while in many others there may be a combination of both true breast tissue and fat cells.

In these men, targeting the fat cells may be all that is needed to remove the visible swelling. In any case, it can certainly improve the appearance.

Gynecomastia treatment options:

  • Diet and exercise
  • Weight loss
  • Creams to reduce fatty tissue
  • Pills to reduce fatty tissue
  • Homeopathic medicines
  • Prescribed hormone altering drugs

Gynecomastia medication – What is available

For many men, the internet is the first port of call to try and understand gynecomastia and what solutions are available. Many different gynecomastia medications are available– all specifically targeted at men with gyno.

Creams may seem like the most obvious first choice. Gynecomastia creams contain substances which are designed to ‘shrink’ fat cells and reduce breast swelling. Many creams contain ‘natural’ or ‘herbal’ substances, and few side-effects are reported.

However, results take some time to be seen. Although the ingredients may genuinely work, they are not absorbed well through the skin and so may not be effective. Creams can also be very expensive.

Gynecomastia pills bought over the internet usually work in the same way as creams. They contain substances (often ‘natural’ or ‘herbal’ in origin) which shrink down fat cells, reducing the appearance of man boobs.

Other marketed gynecomastia treatments may simply be diet pills. By reducing overall weight, excess fat around the chest will also reduce and breast swelling will improve. Most pills come with advice to reduce dietary fat and increase exercise.

How much of the claimed result is due to the pill and how much is due to diet and exercise is up for debate. As with any medication, it is important to check with a doctor before taking it and stop if any unwanted side-effects are experienced.

Gynecomastia medicine

It is also possible to obtain medication for gynecomastia from a doctor – medical treatment which is only available with a prescription. As might be expected, these tend to be medicines with ‘stronger’ effects, and are often designed to target hormonal balance.

Pills which increase testosterone levels can be given. These are designed for use in patients with naturally low hormone levels and need to be very carefully monitored. Some doctors have also tried medicines designed to block the effects of estrogen – most commonly used in breast cancer patients.

Again, careful monitoring is required. Despite the logic of changing hormone levels, and the risk of significant problems, there is little proof that these medicines actually work, meaning that they are rarely recommended.

Homeopathic medicine for gynecomastia

Some practitioners also recommend homeopathic treatments for gynecomastia. Homeopathy is the use of tiny concentrations of natural substances to correct ‘imbalances’ within the patient. The advantages of homeopathy are that there are usually very few side-effects, and practitioners will also do a full assessment of the person to provide an ‘’individualised solution”.

Many different homeopathic pills may be recommended for gynecomastia, including ‘Conium Mac’ and ‘Natrum phos’. Practitioners claim they can treat pain or tenderness, increase vitality and (over time) reduce breast swelling.

However, as with many homeopathic remedies, it is not clear how they work, they can be expensive and there may be little robust evidence of success.

Side-effects of medications

Side-effects of gynecomastia medication vary hugely. Creams, homeopathy and some natural pills may have very few, while some diet pills and prescribed medications can result in very unpleasant unwanted effects.

Diet pills can lead to diarrhoea, and prescribed drugs which alter hormonal balance can cause nausea, vomiting, weight gain, muscle cramps and skin rashes, amongst many others.

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