Every human body produces the hormones testosterone and estrogen. These hormones control sex characteristics where the former controls male traits while the latter controls female traits, including the development of breasts. A male body would have higher testosterone levels, which prevents the breast tissue from enlarging. However, when testosterone levels are below or out of balance with estrogen levels, this results in the enlarging of breast tissues.
Certain medications can also cause gynaecomastia. These include and are not limited to:
Other types of medications, including those used to manage ADHD, anxiety, and depression, heart medications, and stomach-emptying medications are known to be associated with gynaecomastia.
Besides prescribed medications, recreational drugs and substances linked to gynaecomastia include alcohol, marijuana, heroine, and anabolic steroids typically used to build muscles.
Apart from medications, there are medical conditions that in themselves can cause gynaecomastia by tipping the male-female hormone balance.
Medical conditions such as tumours, including those involving the testes, adrenal glands, or pituitary gland, hyperthyroidism, liver cirrhosis and failure are known to cause gynaecomastia due to hormonal changes. Aging, too, is one potential cause of gynaecomastia.
Gynaecomastia can resolve naturally over time and without intervention. This is especially true in adolescents who experience gynaecomastia due to hormonal changes during puberty. During this period, your doctor may recommend periodic evaluations to monitor if the condition has improved. Gynaecomastia in adolescents typically subside without treatment in under two years.
However, if your gynaecomastia is a result of a medication you are taking, your doctor may recommend a substitute. Conversely, if your gynaecomastia is a result of an underlying condition yet to be addressed, you will need to seek treatment for that underlying condition.
You may also consider surgery if your condition is significant and bothersome, or initial treatment does not yield any results. The purpose of surgery is to remove breast fat or breast gland tissue – the latter is less invasive and involves a shorter recovery time.
Gynaecomastia surgeries in Singapore can cost anywhere between $6,500 to $13,000 and are usually not Medisave claimable. Nonetheless, some insurers do cover gynaecomastia surgeries so you should check in with your insurer.