What is Unilateral Gynecomastia? How You Can Over Come From This Issue?
Unilateral gynecomastia is the medical term used for the abnormal swelling of a single breast, either the left or the right, in boys and men. The most commonly affected of the male population are infants, pubescent boys, and older men between the ages of 50 and 69 years although even younger men can also have it. The main cause is changes in the hormone levels, particularly the balance between testosterone and estrogen, in men although other causes also exist.
In affected males, unilateral gynecomastia isn’t a serious health condition since there aren’t physical complications although the psychological issues can be hard to deal with. Teen boys and men are more likely to be emotionally affected by their feminine-looking breasts and, thus, seek medical intervention, adopt lifestyle methods, and wear compression vests. The emotional issues typically include anxiety and embarrassment that can prevent them from going bare-chested in public, perhaps even avoid company.
Fortunately, most cases of unilateral gynecomastia can resolve on their own (i.e., without treatment), especially in infants and pubescent boys. But older men who are more conscious about their appearance or who have feminine-looking breasts will want medical interventions. Here’s what you need to know first.
Know the Signs First
The first sign of unilateral gynecomastia is the gradual swelling of a breast such that it appears larger than the non-affected breast. Even a self-examination will reveal that, indeed, there’s a slow but sure swelling of the affected breast even without strength training exercises for the chest, use of birth control pills, and other possible causes.
The swelling can also be accompanied by other symptoms that should encourage men to seek medical attention. These symptoms include pain, tenderness and swelling in the breast area, as well as nipple discharges from the affected breast.
Get a Definitive Diagnosis
Before making it to your doctor’s appointment, you should ideally write down your observations about your symptoms – when you first noticed the swelling, what medications you were taking, and what underlying medical conditions you may have been diagnosed, among others. Your doctor will use the information during the initial diagnostic process, which includes asking questions about your medical history, drug use, and health conditions in your family.
You will also be subjected to a physical examination – don’t worry as it isn’t painful – that may include a thorough examination of your breasts, genitals and abdomen. You may also be instructed to undergo certain laboratory examinations, such as blood tests, mammograms, tissue biopsies, CT or MRI scans, and testicular ultrasounds.
These diagnostic procedures are a must to get a definitive diagnosis of unilateral gynecomastia and, thus, formulate an effective treatment plan. This is because gynecomastia has the same signs and symptoms of many other medical conditions, such as fatty breast tissue (i.e., pseudogynecomastia), breast cancer, and breast abscess (i.e., mastitis). The treatments for breast cancer and breast abscess are different from gynecomastia, thus, the need for a definitive diagnosis.
Get Educated About the Causes
Gynecomastiahas several controllable and uncontrollable causes so blaming yourself for it is neither productive nor useful in its treatment. Basically, the abnormal swelling is caused by the decrease in testosterone levels in comparison with estrogen levels in an affected male. Said decrease can be triggered by a wide range of factors, as discussed below.
First, natural hormone changes caused by the body’s development. For this reason, unilateral gynecomastia can affect infants, pubescent boys, and older men who are undergoing natural changes in their hormone production.
For example, male infants can have gynecomastia because of their exposure to their mothers’ estrogen but it will soon go away, usually within 2-3 weeks after their birth. In pubescent boys, the hormone changes are normal for their age. In older men (i.e., 50-69 years old), the decreased testosterone production due to aging is the culprit behind their gynecomastia.
Second, the use of certain prescription medications, illegal drugs, and alcohol can also cause gynecomastia as a side effect. These can include the following drugs:
- Anabolic steroids
- HIV and AIDS medications (e.g., efavirenz)
- Anti-anxiety medications (e.g., diazepam)
- Tricyclic antidepressants
- Chemotherapy drugs
- Ulcer medications
- Heart medications
- Street drugs like amphetamines, marijuana, heroin and methadone
In many cases, switching to another prescription medication or completely stopping the current medication can significantly reduce the breast swelling. But be sure to work with your doctor in this regard, especially when the benefits of your prescription medication outweighs the side effects.
Other causes of unilateral gynecomastia include underlying health conditions, such a kidney and liver failure, hypogonadism, and hyperthyroidism, as well as herbal products and dietary supplements. Men who are also taking birth control pills or undergoing hormone replacement therapy for the male-to-female transition will obviously experience gynecomastia.
Discuss the GynecomastiaTreatment Options
With a definitive diagnosis of unilateral gynecomastia, you and your doctor can discuss about your options in treatment. Keep in mind, however, that you may not even need treatment since most cases regress over several weeks or months without medical intervention. You can adopt lifestyle measures, such as wearing compression clothing, adopting a healthy diet and exercise program, and avoiding the use of illegal drugs and alcohol, to speed up the regression.
But in case of moderate to severe unilateral gynecomastia, your doctor will likely recommend the following medical interventions to solve the issue:
- Medications for reducing the appearance of the feminized breast
- Surgery, usually either liposuction or mastectomy or both, to remove the breast fat and breast gland tissue
- You can even try alternative treatments like doing some exercise along with using gynecomastia pills like Gynectrol or Gynexin and creams like Gynexol which are very effective. The Choice is yours.
With these medical interventions, your breast will be back to its masculine appearance in a few weeks!