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If Your Son Has Gynecomastia

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If your adolescent son is developing breasts, there are many things you need to know. In the field of medicine, the condition is called “gynecomastia,” meaning literally, “woman-like breasts.” On the home front, this can be a very difficult subject to tackle, but it’s wise to try to have a calm, objective discussion to help your young man through a tough time.

And tough time it is, whether or not your youngster can bring himself to talk about it. “Man boobs” or “moobs” can be devastating to the self-confidence at a time when it is already fragile. Add in all the ways youngsters can be cruel to each other, and you have a recipe for a difficult few years.

Some basics to understand and discuss include:

Estimates of teens with the dreaded moobs run as high as 65 percent (Family Doctor 1).

Most male breasts contain at least some breast gland tissue. Very overweight teens may have moobs consisting of fat with no excess gland (Ianelli 1).

Drugs/alcohol can play a part in man boobs, as can medical conditions, but most often a hormonal imbalance prompts breast tissue in males (Mayo Clinic 1).

For many teens, breast tissue growth does not progress to the point where it’s noticeable, and it often goes away as hormone swings level out (Ianelli 1).

How do you help your teen cope with gynecomastia? You may want to make an appointment with your son’s primary care physician. He or she should be quite familiar with the condition and should be able to offer reassurance that the man boobs are most likely temporary. If the condition resolves on its own, experts say it could take two to three years (Family Doctor 1). In some cases, your family doctor may refer your son to an endocrinologist for examination of hormone levels.

Along with a doctor visit, you might consider purchasing a compression vest for your son to try. There are many sources you can find easily on the Internet.

There are also several forums on the Web your son might want to visit, like gynecomastia.org. You should check them out first to be sure you’re comfortable with the discussions, as most of the men who post are not teens. But rest assured, even if the language is occasionally rough your son may derive plenty of comfort in knowing others have the same problem he does.

In rare and extreme cases, your son’s doctor may suggest a drug like tamoxifen. By acting as an estrogen suppressor, this type of medication can reduce male breasts. Note that this use is “off label,” in terms of FDA approval, and be sure to research this option well (Family Doctor 1).

Finally, many men and some teens opt for male breast reduction surgery. While it may seem like an extreme step to take, if your son’s gynecomastia has persisted for many months, even years, it may be a good choice. Even if you believe there’s a chance the condition could disappear over time, if your child is experiencing extreme embarrassment, this is an option you may want to consider. In the right (read: very experienced) hands, gynecomastia surgery is relatively non-invasive, permanent and effective (ASAPS 1).


Family Doctor. Gynecomastia: When Breasts Form in Males. Web. August 20, 2011. http://familydoctor.org/online/famdocen/home/men/general/080.html

Ianelli, Vincent. Gynecomastia: Teenagers. About.com Pediatrics. Updated March 16, 2006. Web. August 20, 2011.

Mayo Clinic. Gynecomastia (enlarged breasts in men). Web. August 20. 2011. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/gynecomastia/DS00850/DSECTION=causes

Braunstein, Glenn D. Patient information: Gynecomastia (breast enlargement in men). Up to Date. August 20, 2011.

Reviewed August 24, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg R.N.
Edited by Jody Smith

Add a Comment4 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

As a boy with only sisters, we played dressup many times, so I had worn a bra and other girl clothing before, and I wore panties mostly. When my breasts started developing around age 12, I didn't know alot about bodies at the time, so didn't realize it was abnormal and my single mother didn't act like it was anything abnormal either.

My sisters and I still played dressup alot, so they took notice of my growth and gave me a few of their old bras. I began to notice girls at my school developing breasts like me and wearing bras too, and felt very happy about that and was proud of my growing breasts.

My breasts continued growing and I hoped to get as large as my sisters or some of the girls my age considered having big busts. In my bra, they were noticable bumps under my shirt.

Finally, it dawned on me that only the girls were getting breasts, and none of the other guys seemed to be, except me.

They ended up getting large and the girls noticed them. One girl struck up a conversation to distract me while one of the girls came up behind me and snapped my bra.

I was teased alot and called a few names, but growing breasts was normal for me. I love my breasts and wearing a bra, so I didn't let it bother me.

My first girlfriend was one of those girls. She and I looked at each other's breasts, and we noticed mine looked as fully developed as hers. We played dressup together, kissed a few times, and touched each others breasts, but nothing sexual. She seemed more interested in my breasts than she was me.

Happy with my body and don't plan on ever having surgery, but since I love my breasts and also still enjoy wearing female clothing sometimes, I have been mistaken for a trans person. I got asked alot how long I was taking estrogen to grow mine. People are shocked and don't believe when I tell them they are all natural.

June 2, 2019 - 3:12pm
Guide (reply to Anonymous)

Hello, Anon!

Thank you for commenting and sharing your story with us. For some boys/men having fuller breasts is a non-issue.



June 2, 2019 - 4:32pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Helena)

Thanks Helena. Boys or men with fuller breasts shouldn't be ashamed of wearing a bra, because wearing a bra is nothing to be ashamed of.

June 7, 2019 - 6:49am
Guide (reply to Anonymous)

Hi Anon!

Absolutely. The purpose of a bra is to give coverage and support and is certainly nothing to be ashamed of about.


June 7, 2019 - 3:03pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.



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