Enlarged Breasts By Men

Breast enlargement in men is also known as gynecomastia. For men it may be a possibly embarrassing symptom that may however indicate s presence of certain serious diseases. Breast enlargement in general is caused due to effect of female sex hormones and, therefore, it is not surprising that gynecomastia in men is often (but not always) correlated with higher concentrations of these hormones, or estrogen- testosterone imbalance.


Hepatic cirrhosis and liver failure

In these cases gynecomastia development is linked with higher levels of estrogen hormones. Estrogens in small amount emerge even in male’s body but they are broken down in liver tissue. Liver diseases (especially in stage of liver cirrhosis) may lower liver ability to dispose of the hormones resulting in their increased effect. High estrogen levels cause not only breast enlargement, but also emergence of skin lesions known as so-called spider angiomas.

Medication influence

Some medications are clearly responsible for breast enlargement in men. Particularly substance spironolactone used as a diuretic agent has this side effect. There exists also related version of this substance known as eplerenone. Eplerenone does not cause gynecomastia, but on the other hand it is much more expensive than spironolactone. Breast enlargement by men has been also spotted by usage of certain antidepressants and some drugs against prostate cancer.

Natural hormonal imbalance

Some periods of temporary hormonal imbalance are natural during man’s life. In male infants gynecomastia may appear for a short time due to estrogen from their mother's body. At puberty, various hormonal imbalances are usual and this can lead to a temporary mild gynecomastia. In older men, gynecomastia can also occur as a result of decrease in concentration of male sex hormone testosterone and relative increase of estrogen.


It is necessary to emphasize that enlargement of male breasts by stored fat in obese individuals should not be marked as gynecomastia, it is correctly referred to as pseudogynecomastia, i.e. false gynecomastia. However, even in this case certain breast gland proliferation and growth may be present. It is due to effect of estrogen hormone that is partly produced by adipose tissue. A man with a higher body fat content logically produces more estrogen hormone.

Breast cancer

It is a rare condition by men, but male breast cancers tend to behave more aggressively and have poorer prognosis than in women. That is why every breast change by men, especially one-sided breast enlargement, should be consulted with a doctor.

Hormone-producing tumors

This issue includes rare tumors producing estrogen that may emerge in adrenal glands and testes. Also a pituitary tumor called prolactinoma is responsible for gynecomastia. This tumor produces a large amount of prolactin hormone. Prolactin is normally produced in bodies of lactating women and stimulates milk production. High levels of prolactin in men cause impotence and gynecomastia.

Hereditary hormonal disorders

This group consists of many congenital diseases that are associated with insufficient production of testosterone or its malfunction. The result is increased effect of estrogen that causes proliferation of mammary gland in men. Diseases are induced by malfunction of genes or chromosomal defects. This issue is very complex and it will not be aim of this article. Let’s just mention some examples like mention various forms of hermaphroditism, androgen insensitivity syndrome, chromosomal disorders such as Klinefelter's syndrome and many others.

Jiri Stefanek, MD  Author of texts: Jiri Stefanek, MD
 Contact: jiri.stefanek@seznam.cz
 Sources: basic text sources