Visit our foundation to give a gift.
View Locations Near Me
Main Campus – Hartford
Connecticut Children’s – Waterbury
Urgent Care – Farmington
Specialty Care Center – Danbury
Connecticut Children’s Surgery Center at Farmington
Specialty Care Center – Fairfield
Search All Locations
Find a doctor
Find A Doctor
Request an Appointment
Amenities and Services
Who’s Who on Care Team
Getting Ready for Surgery
What to Expect—Picture Stories
Pay a Bill
Understanding the Different Fees
Pricing Transparency and Estimates
Raytheon Technologies Family Resource Center
Family Advisory Council
Legal Advocacy: Benefits, Education, Housing
Electronic Health Records
Share Your Story
Pay a Bill
Login to MyChart
Clinical Support Services Referrals
About the Network
Join the Network
Graduate Medical Education
Continuing Medical Education
MOC/Practice Quality Improvement
Educating Practices in the Community (EPIC)
Learning & Performance
Meet our Physician Relations Team
Request Medical Records
Join our Referring Provider Advisory Board
View our Physician Callback Standards
Read & Subscribe to Medical News
Register for Email Updates
Update Your Practice Information
Refer a Patient
Find and Print Health Info
Health Information For Teens
Ah, puberty. It can be a very interesting time in a guy’s life, what with all the changes going on. In fact, it seems like every day something on your body grows bigger or hair begins sprouting somewhere. Each day brings a new change or two, and it can sometimes feel like it’s hard to keep up.
It doesn’t happen to every guy, but one of these changes can be the development of breast tissue. It’s called gynecomastia (pronounced: guy-nuh-ko-MAS-tee-uh) and it’s completely normal — and almost always temporary.
So how exactly does a guy happen to develop breast tissue?
Gynecomastia is a condition in which breast tissue forms in guys, usually due to normal hormonal changes during puberty. Hormones are chemicals produced by your body’s glands.
In a guy, hormones produced in the testicles are responsible for the physical changes that begin to take place during puberty — facial hair, muscle development, a deepening of the voice, and the lengthening of the penis, for example. Guys and girls produce both androgens (hormones that help develop and maintain male characteristics) and estrogen (a hormone that is responsible for most female characteristics).
Guys have mostly androgens in their systems, but they also have small amounts of estrogen. In girls, breast growth is caused by high levels of estrogen. Normally, when going through puberty, a guy’s production of androgens increases greatly, whereas estrogen production remains low.
However, sometimes guys produce enough estrogen during puberty that some breast tissue develops. Breast tissue growth in guys can appear on one or both sides of the chest, and the breast area can feel tender. This doesn’t mean a guy is turning into a girl or anything. It’s just a minor change in hormones as he begins to grow into adulthood.
About half of all guys going through puberty have some degree of gynecomastia in one or both breasts. It’s almost always temporary, and it’s very unusual for the breasts to stay developed — they will eventually flatten out completely within a few months to a couple of years. Gynecomastia usually goes away without medical treatment.
Even though it’s just a temporary change for most teens, some guys with gynecomastia feel embarrassed or self-conscious about their appearance. Many guys find that wearing loose-fitting shirts helps make the condition less noticeable until the breast tissue shrinks over time.
Surgical removal of the breast tissue is an option in some cases. If a guy finds his gynecomastia is bothering him, he can talk to a doctor about it.
Although the most common cause of gynecomastia is puberty, it can sometimes be caused by certain diseases or side effects of some medicines. Using illegal drugs such as anabolic steroids, marijuana, or heroin can also disrupt hormonal balance and lead to gynecomastia.
There’s also something called pseudogynecomastia (or false gynecomastia). This has nothing to do with puberty or hormones. It’s simply due to the fact that some guys have extra fat in the chest area, making it look like they have breasts. A doctor’s exam can tell whether a guy has gynecomastia or pseudogynecomastia.
If you’re concerned or have any questions about gynecomastia, talk to your doctor. Keep in mind that temporary breast tissue growth in guys is a common part of puberty that will usually go away on its own.
Find out what the experts have to say.
Your body’s changing – and if you’ve ever felt out of step with it, you’re not alone. Find out how to deal with body changes and feelings in this article.
If you’re a guy, you may be wondering why the doctor needs to do a testicular exam. Find out in this article.
Many people think of guys as being carefree when it comes to appearance. But guys spend plenty of time in front of the mirror. And some worry just as much as girls do about their looks.
What makes up a guy’s reproductive system and how does it develop? Find the answers to these questions and more.
Voice cracking? Clothes don’t fit? Puberty can be a confusing time, but learning about it doesn’t have to be. Read all about it.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
© 1995-2020 KidsHealth®. All rights reserved.
Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.