What is Gynecomastia?
Gynecomastia, which refers to the growth of breast tissue in males, is, in fact, quite common. It may point to some deeper, underlying, illness – such as tumours in the pituitary gland. However, the growth of breasts in men is not always a sign of underlying disease.
There is a certain type of gynecomastia – called physiologic gynecomastia – which is usually, but not always, temporary, and likely to resolve itself. This is most likely to occur at certain stages of life – adolescence, for example. This happens when the hormones are out of whack, so to speak. The other type of gynecomastia is nonphysiologic gynecomastia, and it is this type that we are interested in here.
It is nonphysiologic gynecomastia that is most likely to be a problem for body builders. Nonphysiologic gynecomastia, unlike the other variety, is induced by external factors rather than by internal ones. It is caused by chemical intake – by taking drugs, such as marijuana, and anabolic steroids – and also by disease. It can be a symptom of conditions as various as hyperthyroidism or cancer.
If you have this condition, it is best to go to a doctor and receive a full medical checkup before proceeding any further.
Body building is a tough job. It is not just about being fit, but about actively building the body the way one might build a fortress – there is a mass of bulk and strength that needs to be created. This involves not only tough workouts, and long hours at the gym, but also the use of chemical drugs. The use of anabolic steroids can lead to developing man boobs.
Anabolic Steroids: Feminisation by way of virilising drug?
Body builders and athletes are required to have both an enormous of physical strength and endurance. Other than hard work and a lot of physical training, the method in which this is achieved is by injecting hormones into the body – more specifically, male hormones, as these are the hormones that are most likely to boost physical strength and stamina.
Strangely enough injecting oneself with testosterone leads also to an overdose of estrogen
Biology is funny that way. It is like the environment – the Anabolic steroids, or AAS (anabolic-androgenic steroids), are structurally similar to the androgen testosterone. They are like simulations of testosterone, and once injected into the body their effects mimic those of testosterone, but with serious drawbacks. Once someone begins injecting testosterone into himself, the body’s own natural testosterone is reduced. Think of Polar Bears. The climate is changing too fast for them to adapt and find new ways to live. That is about the same challenge that the body of the body builder who injects himself with steroids faces. Because it is receiving testosterone from the outside, it produces less and less of its own testosterone, which means that between injections the body has a serious imbalance between testosterone levels and estrogen levels. The estrogen levels will be markedly higher, leading to greater breast development.
Now, if you are a body builder you may think, “Great! Now all I have to do is stay on the drug always, and never ever go off it.” However, this does not solve the problem either.
On average no man produces as much testosterone as a single dose of those injections. Usually, a healthy male will produce approximately 7mg of testosterone a day. This will not satisfy the body builder who needs to be more powerful and more virile than any man on earth. Even the injections that have the lowest levels – about 50mg – are not enough to create the kind of endurance and physical strength that is required for a body builder. The desire is to be Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Terminator. No average man is naturally, not even by being healthy and able bodied, that way.
Because the body, like the environment, is always regulating its physical (and chemical) conditions what happens when a man injects himself with an excess of androgens is that his body immediately produces more estrogen to make it fair, and level the balance, so to say.
Aromatase which converts testosterone into estrogen
Sometimes, however your body may do more than level the field. There is an enzyme called aromatase which converts testosterone into estrogen. The distribution of this hormone is not equal in every male person. Some people, genetically, have more of it. It is only when you administer testosterone to yourself that you find out exactly how much aromatase you have. The more you have, the more likely it is that if you, in any way, administer testosterone to yourself you will develop man boobs.
Is there a way out?
Well, first of all you can always stop taking anabolic drugs. Also, we would suggest that once you have stopped you tinker as little as possible. Do not try to fix it because you have read something on the internet. Go to a doctor. If necessary, find a plastic surgeon – a certified surgeon, who knows what outcomes are likely, understands the issues involved, etc. We are informed, by plastic surgeons, that prognosis is quite good.