Well Being

Why is my son growing breasts?

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When our boys are going through puberty we expect certain things to happen. We expect their voice to deepen. We expect them to start gaining some muscle. We even expect them to grow some facial hair. But when my son was in the seventh grade (shortly after his thirteenth birthday), he got something we did not expect; breasts.

Actually in his case it was just one breast. His breast tissue swelled and he looked like he was growing pre-pubescent boobs like you would expect from a pre-teen girl. Of course, this caused him a lot of grief. He refused to dress out for gym because he didn't want the other boys in the locker room to see his chest.

After missing gym for several days, we asked him what was up. He finally admitted his little secret.

When you see a lump on your son's chest your immediate thoughts lead to one cause; cancer. Or is it just me that freaks out and immediately assumes the worst?

Luckily it wasn't cancer. It was gynecomastia. Gynecomastia is fairly common for boys during puberty. About 35 – 50% of boys will experience it. It's caused by an increase in estrogen which then causes the breast tissue to grow. It may also be tender to the touch; just like many woman feel when their breast are growing during puberty or pregnancy. All boys have a small amount of estrogen, however some boys produce enough during puberty to form small breasts.

There's no cure for gynecomastia. But thankfully it's not permanent. It will eventually go away on it's own. It usually lasts anywhere from a few months to a couple years. My son's chest returned to normal within just a few months.

If you son suddenly begins to grow breasts, either both breast or on one side or the other, don't panic. It's likely just a part (albeit an embarrassing part) of puberty and will disappear within a few months. However, you should probably discuss it with your doctor to make sure it really is gynecomastia and not something more serious.