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Gynecomastia Genetic?
July 2002

Q. Is it common for gynecomastia to be genetic? My boyfriend claims the only reason he doesn't want to have children is because he's afraid if he has a son, his son will develop gynecomastia (based on the fact that his dad has it too). My boyfriend doesn't want a son to go through the pain and embarrassment that he went through as a teenager (he eventually had surgery to correct this problem). Do you have any advice on this?

A. Gynecomastia refers to the development of breast tissue in males. This is actually a common occurrence during puberty due to changes in the hormones, and is uncommon to be severe as you describe. The tissue develops directly under the nipple, is rarely more than 1-2 inches in diameter, and occurs on one or both sides. It usually resolves in a few months, but not always. It can usually be diagnosed by a doctor's exam, but tests of hormone production and imaging studies such as an ultrasound test may be needed. Certain medications can cause breast tissue growth as well, so this would be part of the evaluation. A specific genetic link has not been found, so it is not clear that a son would be at increased risk.

http://www.familydoctor.org/handouts/080.html

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003165.htm

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