I’m a 14-year-old guy and recently my chest has started growing a bit, almost like I have boobs. Is that normal? They’re embarrassing and I want to get rid of them.
Good news! It’s very normal and common for people with penises to grow some breast tissue during puberty. There’s even a name for it: gynecomastia. This condition is temporary, and will go away with time. Around half of boys experience gynecomastia during puberty, so you’re FAR from alone!
Lots of guys with gynecomastia worry that they’re turning into a girl, but this is not the case!
Here’s what’s actually going on. During puberty, your body starts producing a whole bunch of hormones that lead to lots of physical (and emotional) changes. One of these hormones is called estrogen. Everybody has some estrogen in their bodies, but people with vaginas have a lot more of it than people with penises. Estrogen (among other things) tells the body to start making breast tissue. If you have slightly more estrogen in your body, you may develop breast tissue even if you have a penis. In addition, you may notice that your breasts are sensitive or sore.
Certain drugs and medications can also cause gynecomastia. These include prescriptions like antidepressants, reflux medications and hormones (including steroids or growth hormones), as well as drugs like marijuana, alcohol, heroin and amphetamines (speed). If you use any of these, talk to your health care provider.
Unfortunately, there’s no way to just “get rid of them.”
The breast tissue usually goes away on its own after 6 months to 2 years. It’s only in rare cases that gynecomastia will stick around after puberty. In the meantime, wearing slightly looser shirts can de-emphasize your chest and help you feel confident. Remind yourself that lots of guys are going through the same thing, and probably have the same worries. You’re definitely not alone!
If you’re still worried, talk to your health care provider. They can make sure everything is developing normally, and confirm that what you have is, in fact, gynecomastia. If you’re so self-conscious that you’re distracted at school or stop doing activities you used to enjoy, talk to someone you trust (a parent, a doctor, your favorite teacher) about what’s going on.
If you’re in NYC, you can see an adolescent medicine specialist at no cost to you at the Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center. Just call (212) 423-3000 to make an appointment. You’ll be welcome here.