Gynecomastia, or the condition by which a man develops enlarged breasts that look similar to a woman, can bring about physical and psychological effects. Factors that contribute to its abnormal growth may include the following, among many others:
- certain disease or disorders
- the use of steroids and drugs
- hormonal imbalance
Development of gynecomastia can begin with puberty. But over time, the condition can disappear. A significant percentage of men, however, have their breasts remain enlarged, which may eventually cause a backlash.
The physical conditions of gynecomastia may be corrected or improved by different treatment options, including surgery. Most of these treatments are very effective in reducing the size of the chest. But the psychological effects may require long-term solutions, especially for some men who develop serious self-esteem issues, as a result of having a condition that others call as “man boobs”.
Manifestations of the Psychological Effects
- EMBARRASSMENT. Feelings of embarrassment may develop as men are aware that enlarged breasts are supposed to be only attributed to the female anatomy. Thus, having “man boobs” may make a man feel a bit self-conscious and ashamed of his physical appearance.
- DEPRESSION. Ashamed and embarrassed by the way his body looks, depression can develop next, as self-awareness and body image at this point is so magnified. The message a man gets from this is that his body looks and feels wrong, even as sometimes, the condition did not develop because of his own doing.
- SELF-PITY. Men can grow to hate their body and may start to feel sorry for the way they look or feel less masculine about it.
- SENSITIVITY. As the negative feelings grow, they may tend to take rejection hard. And with their body image at the lowest point, they will easily believe that the rest of society is mocking them.
- WITHDRAWAL. The most obvious manifestation of a man who is going through deep-seated psychological impact because of gynecomastia is withdrawal or isolation. He will shy away from social gatherings, like beach parties for example, for fear that he will be mocked by his friends as soon as he plunges into the water without his shirt on. Additionally, an intimate relationship for him may be hard to maintain, as he fears being rejected by a potential partner. His self-confidence is so shot down, so he will try the best he can to withdraw contact with people.
Managing The Psychological Effects
Many men have difficulty addressing the psychological effects because they generally do not like talking about their feelings. But it should be important for a man to find someone to be able to discuss this and re-assess his concept of self-awareness and acceptance. Talking to a psychologist will definitely help.
A study on the distressing effects of gynecomastia to a man’s emotional health has been done by medical experts, in the hopes of coming up with good solutions to managing this. One of the suggestions include joining group activities or sports activities that not only promote physical well-being, but also help with their self-confidence and feelings of shame.
When the psychological impact is addressed, the study goes on to say that it may be easier for a man to become motivated with improving his physical appearance for the better. In fact, if he is better psychologically, a physical treatment may no longer be necessary in some cases.