I hated my early 20's with a passion, I never took my shirt off until I was 23. I'd go to the beach with friends and keep a shirt on. When we played soccer at the local field and it was skinned vs shirts, I'd do my best to be on the team who kept their shirt on. Let's just say for a very long time I hated the way my chest looked and it wasn't my fault, it wasn't like I was lazy to workout or anything, it was the fact that my hormones were all over the place. I dealt with a condition known as Gynecomastia. Yeah, Bitch tits, man boobs, blah blah whatever you wanna call it.
What is the cause of Gynecomastia?
There are over 200,000 cases of Gynecomastia per year and the cause of it is basically high estrogen levels. What happens is men have mammary glands just like women, the reason that our glands don't get big as women is because we don't nearly produce enough estrogen that binds to the glands but however when we go through puberty, We go through hormonal changes and that's when this phase of man boobs start for some of us. Eventually, our hormonal levels balance out as we get older but some don't get lucky and I was on the unlucky side. I dealt with high estrogen levels for a very long time in my life. Puberty, however, isn't the only cause of gynecomastia, there can be other factors such as:
Steriods: Steriods influence a big cause of estrogen build up. Steroids are basically hormones and by injecting you're causing an imbalance of levels. Steroids are one of the biggest causes.
Kleinfelter Syndrome: Another cause of gynecomastia is Klinefelter syndrome and is a chromosomal abnormality. Individuals with this condition will have an extra “X” chromosome and to put things in perspective for you, X and Y chromosomes in our body determines our gender and men usually have “XY” combination whereas women have “XX” combination. However, in the case of men with Klinefelter syndrome, they will have an additional “X” chromosome leading to an abnormal “XXY” combination. According to studies on this medical condition, men with Klinefelter syndrome has a 20 fold chance of breast cancer than others and gynecomastia is a common symptom among men with the medical condition.
Hyperthyroidism: The thyroid gland is one of the hormones producing glands in our body and controls a number of crucial functions like heartbeat rate and how fast we burn calories. When the thyroid gland becomes over-active, it produces more thyroid hormones than required and this leads to a medical condition known as hyperthyroidism. Hyperthyroidism is predominantly found in women but men can also have this medical condition and this is considered one of the causes of gynecomastia.
Aging: When men get older, the testosterone levels either become dormant or retards from their earlier levels and this can lead to a dominance of the female hormone estrogen that is already present in relatively few numbers. As mentioned above breast development occurs during three phases of life and the last one is during the older adult age.
Idiopathic: According to some studies, up to 25% of all cases of gynecomastia have no apparent cause. This in itself does not mean that there is no underlying reason but could be because of the lack of studies or research on this medical condition. The medical community for lack of a better word simply does not know what is causing gynecomastia for a subset of the gynecomastia patient population.
Drugs: In almost 20-25 % off all cases, the causes of gynecomastia can be traced back to the use and sometimes abuse of drugs. A number of drugs can directly or indirectly increase the amount of estrogen or catalyze its production. Estrogen is a female hormone that gives women their bodily features and when this hormone is produced more and more, it leads to breast tissue growth. Below is a limited list of drugs that have been found to contribute directly or indirectly towards gynecomastia.
What Causes High Estrogen Levels?
There are tons of things that can cause this. Number one is simple, which I mentioned before, Puberty. When we go through puberty our body starts to release enormous amounts of testosterone. This is the time when we start waking up with morning wood and start to get aggressive. Simply put, this is when we turn from boys to men. In our body, high amounts of testosterone can be a bad thing because our body has a way of maintaining everything. To combat this, the body starts to turn the extra testosterone into estrogen through a process called aromatase. Apparently now they've started using aromatase inhibitors in children! I wish they did this back in my days.
Natural Ways to Lower Estrogen.
Change your eating habits! Don't eat foods that are filled with hormones. A lot of our foods today are genetically modified. Our vegetables are sprayed with toxins and the meat we eat is pumped with hormones so how do we stay away from this? Here are some tips:
Drink water from glass bottles or cups
Always store food in glass containers. Do not microwave anything in plastic containers
Do not drink hot liquids from plastic or styrofoam cups
Avoid using tinned products as the linings of these have phthalates that leach into the food
Parabens from personal care products can be reduced by
Using organically produced cosmetics and perfumes
Avoiding sun tan oils unless they are paraben free
Pesticides and heavy metals can be reduced by:
Eating organic food or soaking non-organic fruit and vegetables for at least 15minutes in water before consumption
Only eating grass fed meats
Only eating wild fish
Avoid Heavy Metals These can be found in
Contaminated water – use a charcoal filter to clean your drinking water
Wild fish especially larger more mature fish – consume in moderate amounts
Poor quality omega 3 supplements – buy a good quality product that has low levels of heavy metals
Food produced from areas of high contamination – e.g. rice from The Far East
Some would argue that regular chelating therapy, 3-4 times annually should be part of our routine body maintenance
Supplements for estrogen?
There are tons of supplements which can help you lower estrogen. Some supplements may help excrete estrogen-like B6, B12, magnesium, and folic acid by promoting excretion via the healthier C-2 pathway. Adequate replenishment of these twice of three times annually by supplementation may help towards keeping these levels optimized. Supplement with Omega-3. Omega-3 fats, which are found in fish, have been shown to promote healthier pathway of elimination for estrogen, particularly EPA omega-3 fatty acids.
Should you use Aromatase inhibitors?
This is a conversation you should have with your doctor. I'm honestly not even sure if a doctor will be willing to control your estrogen with a drug vs something natural but it's worth a shot. Keep in mind, however, estrogen does play a huge role in us even as men, so eliminating it 100% from the body will leave you with side effects. There are also tons of different aromatase inhibitors with different strength and different roles in how they combat estrogen. Do your research and talk to your doctor as always.
Fat or Actual Breast Tissue? Getting rid of it?
This is another big question. Is it pseudogynecomastia (Fat) or gynecomastia? They're both very different. Pseudogynecomastia requires no surgery since its just simply, fat, and can be reversed through exercise and a proper meal plan. Gynecomastia is different since it's an actual breast tissue and to get rid of it is much difficult. In order to get rid of gynecomastia, you have to balance out your hormone levels over time and if worst comes to worst, you may have no choice but to get a surgery. Surgery most of the time will not be covered by insurance since it is cosmetic.
Naturally getting rid of Gynecomastia
Yes, you can get rid of it naturally throughout time as hormone levels will start to balance out. Unfortunately, this does take a lot of time and could even take years but don't let that discourage you.
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