Gear aka anabolic steroids can lead to a medical condition called Gynecomastia or Gyno for short. Anabolic steroids are commonly used and relied upon in the sport of bodybuilding to maximize muscle growth and size. We’re going to talk about what gynecomastia is and how to avoid it when you’re competing in bodybuilding.
Gynecomastia is defined as the development of tissue in the male anatomy beneath the breast. Gynecomastia is often caused by an imbalance of testosterone and estrogen hormones. Symptoms of gynecomastia are often not life threatening but only cosmetic, which include puffy, enlarged, and a swollen breast like appearance under or around the nipple.
Depending upon the severity and progression, gyno may require surgery if the condition persists to remove the enlarged glandular tissue.
Although difficult to determine the exact number of cases of gynecomastia and how common it really it is, there is some published research that shows gyno is experienced by a wide majority of male bodybuilders.
A study published in the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery found that between the years of 1980 and 2013 1574 body builders were treated surgically for gynecomastia [R]. Additional research suggests that at least 30% of all males will be affected with gynecomastia at some point during their life [R].
Testosterone is one of the most commonly used anabolic agents in bodybuilding. To clarify, testosterone itself is not the problem it is the misuse of anabolic hormones which leads to adverse effects.
When injected a portion of testosterone is converted to estrogen by the enzyme aromatase. When the body senses to much testosterone in the system, it actively tries to reduce it through a process called aromatization. Many bodybuilders will pair an injectable synthetic testosterone, with an aromatase inhibitor or estrogen blocker, to offset this conversion.
Aromatase inhibitors can increase testosterone, along with other hormones, by inhibiting the ability of androgens to be converted to estradiol in the body. This decreases the overall level of estrogen in the body.
The recommended treatment for gynecomastia is complete cessation of drugs and anabolic steroids. If treated in early stages, the development of gynecomastia can be reversed. However, depending upon severity and duration of symptoms, surgery may be required. Surgical treatment for this entity involves a combination of liposuction and direct excision of the affected area.
Estrogen blockers may also be prescribed by a physician to help increase testosterone production and decrease the levels of estrogen in the body.
Supplements may also help reduce the severity of gynecomastia such as indole-3-carbinol, known as DIM. DIM works as a natural aromatase inhibitor. We recommend Swolverine’s product ZMT to help naturally increase testosterone and reduce estrogen.
Gynecomastia is a condition that can affect more men than just bodybuilders. As you age, testosterone levels will naturally decrease with an increase in estrogen. Testosterone levels decrease as people age, which can be due to abnormalities of the hypothalamic-pituitary-testicular axis (which controls essential hormones).
Gynecomastia is not a life-threatening condition, however it can contribute to emotional and distress and due to the focus of aesthetics in bodybuilding. If you are concerned about the development of gyno or need help with treatment, consult a healthcare professional.
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