Bodybuilder Gynecomastia – Causes, Treatment, & Prevention
The main goal of bodybuilding is to achieve a certain aesthetic appearance that is pleasing to the eye, right?
What if you ended up with enlarged breast tissues in the process? That would be awful, certainly.
What is Gynecomastia, to begin with?
Gynecomastia – or sometimes put as “gyno” – is the enlargement of male breast tissues to form what we graphically refer to as “man boobs.”
This condition is mainly caused by steroid use. However, it is not uncommon for pretty anything else that alters hormone balance to trigger gynecomastia.
Since bodybuilding emphasizes specific aesthetic appearance, gynecomastia can be a troubling concern for many bodybuilders and even a source of embarrassment in life outside bodybuilding.
Before we even take a glance at the treatment, let’s familiarize ourselves with the causes:
Causes of Gynecomastia
Studies point to more than one cause, including the aforementioned bodybuilding steroids and prescription drugs:
1. Steroid use
While gynecomastia isn’t limited to bodybuilders, using one or several anabolic steroids (exogenous testosterone derivatives, for example) almost always leads to the onset of the condition.
As you use steroids, your body eliminates circulating testosterone by breaking it down into constituent components. This breakdown yields, among many byproducts, estradiol.
Estradiol is one of the many types of estrogen, a hormone responsible for developing secondary sex characteristics in females.
As estradiol builds up in your body, it causes enlargement of the male breast tissue, which may progress into gynecomastia.
However, note that over-the-counter (OTC) supplements and certain drugs like antianxiety, antibiotics, calcium channel blockers, antidepressants, and ulcer medications are just as bad.
That’s why you need to be careful with the kind of medications you take as a bodybuilder. Still, not all people experience these adverse side effects.
More studies continue to show that the human body tends to pump out two kinds of hormones in stressful moments: estrogen and cortisol.
We already know the job of estrogen – to produce feminine characteristics, including breast growth. Cortisol, on the other hand, is a catabolic hormone.
The former (estrogen) is the most problematic of these two because its presence in large quantities would mean low testosterone (the hormone responsible for secondary male sex characteristics).
This hormonal imbalance brings forth gynecomastia.
3. Low Testosterone
A man’s testosterone level can decline due to many factors in the environment, including the kind of plastics you use often. If testosterone levels get too low, an onset of gynecomastia becomes near unavoidable.
Usually, low testosterone is caused by an array of lifestyle choices like diet, stress, and lack of exercise. Many of these life choices also boost estrogen levels, setting the stage for gynecomastia.
It is recommended that you start by undergoing a proper diagnosis to identify the exact cause of the problem. As such, your first step of treatment should be a visit to the physician’s office.
Once the physician determines the reason, they will put you on a regime of medications depending on an array of other factors like the extent of the condition.
The line of medication for acute cases of this condition involves aromatase inhibitors and/or anti-estrogen drugs.
In some extreme cases, surgery might be the only solution on the table. Depending on how bad it is or how fast you want to get over the condition, a combination of liposuction, surgery, and breast lifting might be necessary.
Also, advanced-stage gynecomastia that has been left untreated for so long can only be treated with surgical removal of the entire breast tissue.
This treatment should be conducted by qualified surgeons. Liposuction of the extra fatty tissues follows the removal of the glandular tissues typically.
Overall, surgical treatment in bodybuilders turns out to be successful most of the time. Findings indicate that 98 per cent of patients who underwent the procedure were impressed with the results.
Anabolic steroid-induced gynecomastia
Gynecomastia caused by intake of anabolic steroids is generally treated with a simple dose of anti-estrogen medications.
Research supports the prescription of such anti-estrogen drugs as tamoxifen which are designed to reduce the levels of estradiol.
Remember that estradiol is accumulated by dissociation processes of anabolic steroids in the body.
Here is how to keep gynecomastia at bay:
1. Avoid steroids or opt for their alternatives
Steroids are the number one cause of gynecomastia, so you should think of cutting them out of your bodybuilding routine.
It would be best if you understandably built thick and toned muscles for the specific appearance you want.
In fact, steroids are the easiest route to building the muscles of your desire, but – ask yourself – is the ultimate price worth it?
Fortunately, there are plenty of natural alternatives to all the popular anabolic steroids out there. These natural alternatives produce comparable results without exposing you to adverse effects.
Try out these direct substitutes and get the benefits of regular steroids risk-free:
2. Exercise often
The second best and most natural way to avoid this condition is to support your overall health by focusing on a combo of chest-based workouts and high-intensity cardio.
High-intensity cardio alone can speed up fat burning in the body than most other methods. Performing complete chest workouts that target all muscle angles is effective in firming up the tissues in the chest area. Start with these exercises:
- Dumbbell flies
- Incline dumbbell chest and shoulder press
- Explosive/plyometric push-ups
In a nutshell
Gynecomastia is characterized by enlargement of male breast tissues. While steroid use is the leading cause of this condition in bodybuilders, almost every other factor that creates a hormone imbalance can trigger gynecomastia.
Treatment normally involves anti-estrogen drugs. Surgery might be considered in advanced cases. The best way to keep gynecomastia at bay is to dump steroids in favour of their natural alternatives.
Are you hooked on steroids? Would you rather risk it with them than try out the natural alternatives?