Medical conditions, no matter the type, are hard enough to deal with just by their very presence. The constant struggle to control and, at times, defeat a condition can take a mental toll. The emotional strain and stress that surround illnesses and treatments can be overwhelming. When the condition manifests itself physically however, the judgement of others and dissatisfaction with the view in the mirror can add an extra burden.
Such is the case with gynecomastia. Gynecomastia is a condition where men show signs of breast development and enlargement. It has a number of causes – the root of which is an imbalance in the amount of estrogen the patient produces. It may also be caused by Risperdal. Risperdal is an anti-psychotic medication brought into the spotlight as the result of a series of lawsuits filed against Johnson & Johnson. The manufacturing giant was accused of using deceptive marketing practices once Risperdal was brought to market.
The fact that men produce estrogen may come as a surprise to some. Both genders produce the other gender’s sex hormones; it’s simply a matter of how much of each a particular person produces. Women produce testosterone; although they produce more estrogen. Men produce estrogen; although they produce more testosterone.
Gynecomastia tends to manifest itself during puberty. It’s no surprise really – this is the time when the body’s hormones are working overtime to make the transition into young adulthood. Some estimates suggest that 70% of boys will show some signs of gynecomastia between the ages of 12 and 17.
It can be embarrassing. For school-aged boys who have to deal with locker rooms, athletics, and the ridicule of other children around them, the condition can affect their day to day lives and leave them feeling ostracized. They won’t want to participate in sports, social activities, or anything else associated with just being a kid. It can make them miserable.
Adult men, however, also have to face the stares of others, particularly at the beach, at pools, at the gym locker room, or anywhere else one might have to remove their shirt. Having breasts when you’re not supposed to have breasts is enough to dissuade any man from wanting to bare his chest for all to see.
Former Philadelphia Flyers goalie Bernie Parent has begun speaking publicly about his struggles with gynecomastia and the treatments he has undergone to help remove the excess tissue and flatten his chest. Parent says, in a recent philly.com post, that he has dealt with gynecomastia since his mid-20s. The champion goalie said that no matter how much exercising he did, no amount of work would get rid of the extra fat and tissue in his chest. Now, at the age of 70, he has taken measures to reduce the impact of the condition on his life.
Gynecomastia is a difficult condition for any man to endure and the fact non-surgical treatments are available will come as a relief to some. For others, however, the struggle for acceptance continues on a daily basis. Knowing that a legend in a sport as physically punishing as hockey has dealt with, and overcome, gynecomastia may help with their own internal struggles.