When a man has too much estrogen in the body, its feminizing properties stimulate the growth of glandular breast tissue around the nipples. This can lead to a medical condition called gynecomastia (gyno), or "man boobs." Thus, men with gynecomastia initially notice that their nipples look inflamed and are sensitive to touch.
Even though it's more of a cosmetic issue than a medical one, gynecomastia is frustrating and can lower a man's self-esteem. After all, what's the point in building chiseled chest muscles if you're stuck with excess breast tissue?
This article details the causes of enlarged breasts in men and how to get rid of man boobs ("moobs") naturally or with surgery.
Man boobs, colloquially called "moobs," are often the result of irregular hormone levels in the body. Specifically, moobs are caused by an imbalance of androgens and estrogens in males. Normally, males produce significantly more testosterone than they do estrogen.
For all intents and purposes, testosterone makes a male masculine; estrogen makes a female feminine. All humans produce these sex steroids, just in different amounts. Intuitively, men have quite a bit more testosterone than women. The inverse is true in the case of estrogen.
As the body metabolizes androgens, notably testosterone and androstenedione, they may be aromatized (read: converted) to estradiol. Aromatase is the enzyme responsible for converting androgens to estrogen.
During puberty and throughout a male's 20s, testosterone levels reach their peak. Depending on numerous factors, like eating habits, body weight, taking medications, abusing drugs, and exposure to environmental toxins.
The culmination of one or more of those variables may provoke the body to convert more testosterone to estrogen, which then binds to receptors surrounding the nipple and stimulates breast tissue growth . Hence, moobs can occur at any stage of a male's life, not just during puberty.
Thankfully, pubertal gynecomastia typically resolves spontaneously. But there are still plenty of males stuck with recalcitrant gyno as they age.
Men who produce excess amounts of testosterone or abuse aromatizable anabolic steroids are at higher risk of developing man boobs. Contrarily, men with low testosterone may also develop man boobs, especially if they are overweight.
Aromatase activity increases as body fat increases since fat cells produce this enzyme . Therefore, a male with excess fat tissue will convert more testosterone to estradiol, the exact opposite of what you want when dealing with man boobs.
The solution in those cases is usually straightforward: lose weight/fat (via diet and exercise), and man boobs will gradually fade.
Interestingly, a case study of a 60-year-old man who had been regularly consuming 3 quarts of soy milk daily found that his estradiol and estrone levels were 4 times higher than the clinical upper-limit reference values for men . Sure enough, when he eliminated soy milk from his diet, his gyno slowly dissipated. His case is just one example of how simple diet changes can get rid of man boobs.
But in some instances, hitting the gym and changing your eating habits won't get rid of those pesky moobs. Don't worry — gynecomastia surgery and prescription medications have a proven track record if you need to go that route.
Here is some practical advice you can implement to get rid of male breast tissue:
Please remember that gynecomastia is a serious medical condition that a licensed doctor should diagnose (and advise treatment, if necessary). The earlier you catch gyno, the more likely you'll be able to get rid of man boobs/moobs without the need for corrective surgery or prescription aromatase inhibitors.
If you've tried to lose weight/fat, build muscle, and eat a healthy diet, but your man boobs persist, gynecomastia surgery may be prudent. The procedure is fairly routine and doesn't require much downtime afterward; small incisions are made in the chest to remove excess fat in the area and the excision of glandular breast tissue (similar to breast reduction in females). Some scarring around the chest is expected, but the results are permanent and well worth it if you can't get rid of enlarged breast tissue naturally.
Only a doctor that specializes in male hormonal health can help you determine if surgery is necessary. It's sensible to do everything in your power to reduce/eliminate breasts due to excess estrogen production. Worst case, you can fall back on gynecomastia surgery knowing you at least tried (and establish some healthier lifestyle habits along the way).
While enlarged breasts can diminish a man's self-esteem, man boobs are not an endpoint, and gyno doesn’t have to define the rest of your life. Be proactive about treatment; you can get rid of moobs once and for all.