Gynecomastia is enlarged breast tissue or glands in men or boys. The enlargement is from an imbalance between testosterone (male hormone) and estrogen (female hormone). One or both breasts may be affected. Gynecomastia may be a sign of a serious disease that needs to be treated.

Shirtless man with swollen breast tissue. Close-up comparing normal breast tissue to swollen breast tissue caused by a hormone imbalance.

What increases my risk for gynecomastia?

  • Changes in testosterone levels during puberty or elderly age
  • Estrogen passed from mother to baby during pregnancy (newborns)
  • Increased estrogen hormone levels, or exposure to estrogen-like chemicals
  • Health conditions such as obesity, diabetes, or liver or kidney disease
  • Medicines such as steroids, stomach acid medicine, or blood pressure medicine
  • Alcohol, or drugs such as marijuana or heroin
  • Treatment for medical conditions, such as dialysis, major surgery, or prostate cancer
  • Family history of gynecomastia

What are the signs and symptoms of gynecomastia?

  • Breast tenderness or pain
  • Enlarged areola (area around your nipple)
  • Fluid coming out of the nipple, usually in babies

How is gynecomastia diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will examine your breasts, penis, and testicles. He may use any of the following to find the cause of your gynecomastia:

  • An ultrasound, CT scan, or MRI may show a tumor in your pituitary gland, testicles, liver, or kidney area. You may be given contrast liquid to help healthcare providers see the pictures better. Tell the healthcare provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast liquid. Do not enter the MRI room with anything metal. Metal can cause serious injury. Tell the healthcare provider if you have any metal in or on your body.
  • Blood tests may be used to check your hormone levels. Blood tests may also be used to find health problems that may be causing your gynecomastia.
  • A biopsy may be used to take a sample of tissue to be tested for cancer.

How is gynecomastia treated?

Symptoms in babies and teenagers may go away without treatment. Your healthcare provider may treat any medical condition or change any medicine that caused your gynecomastia. You may need medicines to help balance your hormone levels or to decrease pain. Surgery may be used to reduce breast tissue if other treatments do not work.

How can I manage my symptoms?

A cold compress may help relieve pain or soreness. Use an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel and apply it to your breasts as often and for as long as directed.

How can I help prevent gynecomastia?

  • Do not use illegal drugs. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you need help quitting.
  • Limit or do not drink alcohol as directed. A drink of alcohol is 12 ounces of beer, 1½ ounces of liquor, or 5 ounces of wine.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Ask your healthcare provider how much you should weigh. Ask him to help you create a weight loss plan if you are overweight.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • You have breast pain or soreness that is not helped with medicine.
  • The skin around your nipples is peeling from rubbing against your clothing.
  • You feel depressed or embarrassed about your condition.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.