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What Is Bilateral Gynecomastia?

By Terri Peerenboom ; Updated August 14, 2017

Bilateral gynecomastia is the enlargement of both breasts in men. Gynecomastia occurs when an imbalance between the hormones estrogen and testosterone occur. Gynecomastia is not considered a serious problem although some men and boys feel discomfort in the breast tissue along with social embarrassment. This disorder can resolve itself or may require medical intervention such as medication or surgery.

Symptoms

The primary symptoms of gynecomastia are swollen breast tissue and breast tenderness. Bilateral gynecomastia suffers experience these symptoms in both breasts although it can occur on just one side. Enlargement of the breast tissue may occur unevenly between the two breasts.

Causes

Gynecomastia has several causes. When the estrogen level in the male body is higher than the testosterone level, gynecomastia may result. This hormone imbalance may result from naturally occurring hormonal changes, medications and health disorders. Approximately 25 percent of gynecomastia cases have no known cause. Hormonal imbalances may be caused by the natural aging process, chemotherapy treatments for cancer, liver disease, anabolic steroid hormone usage, estrogen hormone exposure, dialysis, using marijuana, medical hormone treatments, radiation to the testicles and testosterone deficiency. Any of these can lead to gynecomastia.

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Diagnosis

In order to diagnosis gynecomastia, a health care provider will complete a physical health exam including questions about current medications. Other possible testing includes palpation (feeling) of the breast tissue, abdomen and genitals, blood tests such as hormone levels, mammograms, X-rays, CT scans, MRIs, ultrasounds and biopsies. The health care provider will also determine if other conditions are present such as excess fatty tissue in the breast, abcesses or breast cancer.

Treatments

Treatment choices vary according to the cause and amount of discomfort the patient experiences. Initially, underlying medical conditions causing gynecomastia should be evaluated and treated by a health care provider. If the condition continues to be bothersome, other treatment options include medications and surgery such as liposuction to removed excess fatty tissue and mastectomy to remove the breast gland.

Prevention

To prevent or possibly resolve bilateral gynecomastia, stop all use of recreational drugs such as marijuana and supplements meant to enhance bodybuilding such as anabolic steroids.

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