San Francisco, CA-At birth male babies often have enlarged breasts due to high levels of estrogen they received from their mother in the womb. This usually resolves itself within just a few days.
Some boys going through puberty often develop breasts due to the imbalance of hormones. In most instances, the gynecomastia breasts in young men will go away on their own.
As men age and their testosterone levels fall, the body will have less ability to balance estrogen and estrogen levels may rise. Estrogen is considered more of a female hormone, but men need small amounts to regulate bone density, sperm production and mood. When the estrogen and testosterone levels get drastically out of balance a man may find that he will develop female type breasts.
It is believed men go through a similar change in life as they age that women do. For women, it is called menopause, for men it is referred to as Andropause. It is becoming more widely accepted by physicians who note men have symptoms such as; energy loss, depression, loss of libido, decreased bone density, weight gain and the development ofÂ breasts.
Andropause is characterized by the loss of the hormone testosterone, the hormone that makes men, men. Like puberty in reverse! Not all men are affected the same, testosterone levels can vary greatly, but in general older men have lower levels than younger men. Levels drop very gradually, only 1 to 1.5% a year, so that symptoms could take years to show up, very unlike the rapid onset of hormone loss women face in menopause.
As men age, testosterone levels start dropping for approximately 10% of men in their 40â€™s, 25% of men in their 50â€™s, 45% of men in their 60â€™s, 70% of men in their 70â€™s and continue to decrease from there.
According to Wikipedia, the concept of Andropause is more widely accepted in Australia and parts of Europe than in the United States. The World Health Organization does not recognize the term
â€śAndropauseâ€ť as a medical condition. The term â€śsymptomatic late onset of hypogonadismâ€ť is used interchangeably with Andropause. The Mayo Clinic describes male hypogonadism as; a condition where the body does not produce enough testosterone, the hormone that plays a key role during puberty for masculine development.
Some researchers use the term â€śandrogen deficiency of the aging maleâ€ť (ADAM) to reflect the fact that the decrease of testosterone is gradual.
In one, study, 98% of primary care physicians believe that Andropause and the risk osteoporosis are related, and some observe a relation with Alzheimerâ€™s disease.
Not all men will experience all changes; a blood test is the only way to determine a low testosterone level. Some other changes a blood test can reveal are; an increase in estrogen the female hormone, a low red blood cell count (anemia), increased glucose levels related to diabetes, possible changes in the liver and kidneys, etc.
Clinical studies have shown testosterone replacement therapy to be safe, but there have not been any long term placebo controlled trials and so it remains controversial. Some believe there is an increased risk of prostate cancer as a side effect. There has been shown to be a slight increase in PSA levels in some studies, but there is no clear evidence that supplemental testosterone will initiate prostate cancer.
Initial evaluation of patients should be conducted for prostate cancer prior the start of treatment with supplements of testosterone, then careful monitoring needs to be maintained for changes in PSA levels.
Developing female type breasts is one of the most upsetting symptoms of Andropause that older men may have to face. If testosterone replacement therapy is not an option for the man, then most likely he would be a candidate for male breast reduction surgery.