Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content


4-minute read

Key facts

  • Gynaecomastia is an increase in breast tissue in males.
  • It is caused by a hormone imbalance, medicines, or an underlying illness.
  • If you have pain or tenderness or a lump see your doctor to find out the cause.

What is gynaecomastia?

Gynaecomastia (gynecomastia) is a swelling of the breast tissue in males. It’s also called ‘man-boobs’. It usually affects both breasts but can be one-sided.

Gynaecomastia is very common. More than half of all young males develop the condition during puberty. It normally disappears as you grow older.

As many as 2 out of 3 males aged over 50 years may have the condition.

What are the symptoms of gynaecomastia?

As well as breast tissue growth, you may have breast pain or tenderness. You may feel embarrassed about how your chest looks.

Some people have no symptoms other than breast tissue growth.

Gynaecomastia is different from enlarged breasts caused by extra fat tissue from being overweight.

Gynaecomastia is different from male breast cancer, which is usually:

  • just on one side
  • not always around the nipple
  • feels hard or firm

Usually gynaecomastia is not serious, but it’s important to see your doctor to find out the cause.

Illustration showing the difference between gynaecomastia (left) and a normal male chest (right).
Illustration showing the difference between gynaecomastia (left) and a normal male chest (right).

What causes gynaecomastia?

Gynaecomastia is caused by an imbalance between the hormones oestrogen and testosterone.

This imbalance often occurs naturally in:

  • infants — aged 0 to 3 weeks
  • puberty — aged 10 to 17 years
  • older men — it becomes more common after 50 years

Gynaecomastia can also be caused by:

  • medicines that affect your hormones
  • some genetic conditions such as Klinefelter syndrome
  • some dietary supplements and complementary or alternative medicines
  • obesity or poor nutrition
  • alcohol overuse
  • kidney or liver disease
  • hyperthyroidism
  • tumours in your testicles or adrenal glands

In about 1 in 4 people the cause of gynaecomastia is not known.

When should I see my doctor?

If you are worried about enlarged male breasts, the first step is to talk to your doctor.

It’s important to see your doctor if you have:

  • breast swelling
  • breast pain or tenderness
  • a nipple discharge from one or both breasts
  • a breast lump

FIND A HEALTH SERVICE — The Service Finder can help you find doctors, pharmacies, hospitals and other health services.

ASK YOUR DOCTOR — Preparing for an appointment? Use the Question Builder for general tips on what to ask your GP or specialist.

How is gynaecomastia diagnosed?

Your doctor will examine you and ask about your symptoms and any medicines that you take.

They may arrange a blood test.

A few people may need a scan or biopsy. Scans can include a CT or an ultrasound.

A biopsy is when a small sample of tissue from the breast is taken. These tests will help to rule out male breast cancer.

How is gynaecomastia treated?

Treatment for gynaecomastia will depend on your personal situation.

Babies and adolescents will usually grow out of the hormonal imbalance that causes gynaecomastia.

If your doctor knows the cause of your gynaecomastia they may suggest you make changes to make your gynaecomastia go away.

These changes can include:

  • lifestyle changes
  • changing medicines
  • treating an underlying disease

Your doctor may prescribe medicines to reduce your pain and improve the look of your chest.

Wearing a tight top underneath your shirt can help make your enlarged breasts less obvious.

If you don’t respond to the medicines, your doctor may recommend gynaecomastia surgery.

Can gynaecomastia be prevented?

For some people eating a healthy diet should reduce the development of gynaecomastia.

Complications of gynaecomastia

You may feel embarrassed, upset or anxious about how your chest looks and feels. It can help to talk to your family, friends, or partner. You can also ask to see a psychologist or counsellor.

Gynaecomastia doesn’t increase the risk of breast cancer in males.

Resources and Support

The Healthy Male site has more information on gynaecomastia.

To find a plastic surgeon, visit the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons website.

If you want to know more about gynaecomastia or need advice on what to do next, you can call the healthdirect helpline on 1800 022 222 (known as NURSE-ON-CALL in Victoria). A registered nurse is available to speak with 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: July 2023

Back To Top

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Gynaecomastia (Male Breast Reduction) - Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons

Gynaecomastia is an excessive enlargement of the male breast and may be present in one breast (unilaterally) or in both breasts (bilaterally).

Read more on Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons website

Gynecomastia - Enlarged Male Breasts (Man Boobs) | Healthy Male

Gynecomastia (often called ‘man boobs’) is when male breast tissue grows larger than usual. It usually affects both sides of the chest and can affect each side differently.

Read more on Healthy Male website

What you need to know about gynecomastia or ‘man boobs'

Gynecomastia, or "man boobs" is when male breast tissue grows larger than usual. It generally feels like a rubbery, firm mass under and around the nipple.

Read more on Healthy Male website

Oestradiol | Pathology Tests Explained

Oestrogens are a group of hormones primarily responsible for the development of female sex organs and secondary sex characteristics. While oestrogens are the

Read more on Pathology Tests Explained website

Anabolic Steroids: What They Are, Uses, Side Effects & Risks | Healthy Male

What you need to know about anabolic steroids, whether they are legal in Australia, the side-effects and health risks of steroid misuse and abuse.

Read more on Healthy Male website

Liposuction - Better Health Channel

Liposuction is invasive surgery and is not a substitute for weight reduction or a cure for obesity.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Male pattern hair loss -

Male pattern hair loss is inherited and typically starts from about age 30. Treatments are available for men who wish to slow down hair loss, stimulate hair regrowth or disguise hair loss.

Read more on myDr website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Queensland Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Victorian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo

Healthdirect Australia acknowledges the Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and their continuing connection to land, sea and community. We pay our respects to the Traditional Owners and to Elders both past and present.