Do you have gynecomastia even though you are a natural bodybuilder?
While it’s a common indicator of steroid use, Gynecomastia – or “gyno” – isn’t always caused by drugs. Gynecomastia can appear during puberty as a natural bodybuilder and – if you are unlucky – it can stay with you forever!
Today, I’m going to talk you through Gyno, how it happens, and what you can do about it. It’s a tender issue for a lot of men, which is why most people don’t talk about it. Let’s change that!
This article will take you 6 minutes to read. Feel free to leave your questions in the comment section – I do my best to answer all of them!
Gynecomastia as a natural bodybuilder? You’re not alone!
If you have gynecomastia, or you suspect you might, then it’s important to realise you’re not alone. Plenty of people have dealt with pubertal gynecomastia, which happens in response to the hormonal changes in the body as we become men.
The reason that steroid-users and teenagers develop gynecomastia are the same: rapid hormonal change produces change in the glands, producing breast tissue. These changes are associated with the other aspects of pubertal development – like facial hair, deepening of the voice, and changes to the structure of the muscles.
Both men and women will produce androgen and estrogen hormones during these formative stages. Estrogen is at a higher level of production for women – this hormone develops most female traits like breast. Male sex hormones, including testosterone and its derivatives, are released in large quantities.
While guys usually have a high production of androgens and a low production of estrogen, they sometimes end up producing more estrogen than needed. This can happen because of poor lifestyle, poor hormonal climate, or just bad luck with your genetics.
This is when the gynecomastia condition appears. Because of the higher than usual amount of estrogen produced, the man starts growing breast tissue, and this may or may not change as puberty progresses.
For most teenagers and men, gynecomastia will typically come and go. However, it can come and stay, which is why you’re reading this article!
What’s the point of going to the gym if you have puffy nipples?
Can’t wear a white shirt? Of course you can! But that might be frustrating as someone with gynecomastia. It’s easy to get caught up with insecurity about these feelings.
First, you may feel like it simply doesn’t look good. Secondly, you might be called out for using performance-enhancing drugs even though you’re a natural, or not someone looking to compete professionally or use any PEDs.
The hard part is that we all know these things shouldn’t matter – but they do. Unless you are a saint, you will care – because this is your body, many people do.
Aside from the mental effects, the sensation of gynecomastia isn’t pleasant either, it gets very swollen and irritated when it’s hot. It can be tender or uncomfortable, depending on the progression of the condition.
Even if you are not doing anything, but you let your attention go to it, you can feel your nipples are big and swollen. There is like an extra weight on your chest, which is uncomfortable, and it can react negatively to things like friction – or just lower your mood.
Eventually, you get used to it, but then each time you want to wear a nice and tight T-shirt, it comes back and shows. You might have realised that pinching your nipple will help reduce it in size for a little while, but that is temporary, and it can’t be your go-to solution.
You have gynecomastia but you do not go to the gym, will going to the gym help you?
Maybe working on getting a bigger chest and hitting the gym will help you get rid of gynecomastia?
This is one of the reasons a lot of people with gynecomastia start going to the gym. Unfortunately, this is not an extra fat problem. Gynecomastia is caused by the glands which sit under the nipples. This means going to the gym won’t change anything about your gynecomastia.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go to the gym though, improving your body confidence in other areas will help with your mental outlook.
For many people, the changes to gyno seen through improving their physical appearance are positive. It can help to reduce the amount of fat on the chest, thus reducing the appearance associated with gyno, though the actual condition will not likely recede by itself.
If you thought of going to the gym, try it out anyway, it can’t hurt! You can read our starting guide here.
What are the solutions?
What happens if you have gynecomastia and it’s not going away? You will need to go see your doctor, usually, as this is a medical condition – and endocrinology (the study of hormones) isn’t something you can DIY.
There are usually two options:
- Get surgery
- Use a cream that may reduce the prevalence or swelling of the condition
If the cream doesn’t work, then the only other option is a surgery that will be costly. This is a judgment we all have to make individually: is it worth the money? Do you have the spare cash? Do you feel it is impacting your life severely enough?
I can’t tell you what to feel or what decision to make. However, it can be frustrating when it is for a condition that you did not ask for and isn’t your fault.
Is surgery your only option to get rid of gyno?
Unfortunately, surgery does seem to be the only option for many men. It’s often not enough to use the creams, since these are conservative treatments and they can’t magically change the tissue of your body.
This is especially true in long-lasting cases: if your gynecomastia has been around for a long time, surgery may be the only option. If it’s not gone already, it’s not going to go by iself.
Now, you will have to make sure this is not adipomastia. Some people who used to be overweight will store fat around the nipple area but when we talk about gynecomastia, we are talking about glands. A doctor will be the best source for this diagnosis, and can guide you based on the different conditions.
The real issue with surgery is the price. Gynecomastia surgeries can get quite expensive and their relationship to your health service depends on your country – and, if you have it, your health insurance. Again – ask your doctor about what can be done, as it’s always a good idea to get the information before you make a decision.
If you genuinely have gynecomastia and not adipomastia then you will be more likely to receive a partial or full refund, as it isn’t purely cosmetic surgery. People who have voluntary liposuction, for example, would have to pay full price as that is classified as cosmetic surgery – but gynecomastia surgeries may be subsidised through their effect on mental and physical wellbeing – especially in severe cases.
If your gynecomastia was genuinely a hormonal issue (not linked to steroid use) and you can prove it, you might then be able to get refunded or subsidised.
Before going to the doctor, you might want to bring with you old photos of your gynecomastia if this appeared before you even started working out. This will be good proof that you genuinely had it at a young age and are not dealing with steroid-related problems.
Doctors might not like it if you are trying to get your insurance to refund you if the gynecomastia was your fault (through the use of steroids for example). Bringing as much proof as you can and pointing out the fact that it affects your well-being is essential when you go see the doctor.
How much does surgery cost for gynecomastia?
According to some older sources, average price for gynecomastia surgery is around 4k. This can be quite expensive – though you may be able to find cheaper or subsidised versions, depending on your country of residence and your condition.
We wanted to share these complete videos from the channel Better Aesthetics Bodybuilding where Nick Covill explains his experience as a natural bodybuilder with gynecomastia and the whole process of getting rid of his gyno.
There is a part 2, part 3 and part 4 which you should also watch. It will be really relatable if you suffer from this gyno condition as a natural bodybuilder, or just as a natural individual who is dealing with the impact of gyno on their physique.
Nick mentions that his surgery was only $500, but he knew the doctor so we can’t take this as a standard for every surgery case. He also says in the comments that although it was a lucky price, he thinks there will be other doctors doing it for cheaper than the average, so it’s worth inquiring!
What’s the average price per country?
France: The price in France for gynecomastia surgery is between 2500 euros and 5000 euros. Note that it can be completely refunded if this is real gynecomastia which appeared during puberty. Countries like France with good healthcare and insurance which you contribute to, and will undoubtedly refund you (at least some of) the cost of the surgery.
USA: The average cost for gynecomastia surgery in the USA is $4000. Unfortunately, in the US, you might not benefit from a refund unless you have good healthcare insurance – and this may not be worth the change in premiums. There are alternatives to this issue, for example, you could get surgery in another country. Although you might have to consider the cost of travel and other related expenses.
UK: In the UK, if you have had gynecomastia for a very long time, the surgery may be covered on the NHS. If you require the surgery done privately, then you will be looking at £3500-£5000, depending on your provider.
Turkey: In Turkey, prices are lower, costing around 1,900 to 2,600 Euro-equivalent on average. The question is whether or not you can find a good surgeon there. You will need to do some research before making a decision. That could be a good option if you are from Europe and prices in your country are way too high. Flights to Turkey are not expensive, and it might save you a lot of money, but you should put in some real research hours before making this decision.
You can find more information on blog.flymedi where we got the information from. You should try and look on the forums if there are any good and cheap surgeon around your area or country – other people have definitely dealt with these concerns before you!
How to deal with gynecomastia if you cannot afford a surgery?
First, if you are a teenager or just had signs of gynecomastia recently, you might want to wait to see if it goes away by itself. It is normal in some cases to have gynecomastia during puberty. So, unless it has already been a year or two, you should wait to see whether it’ll go.
You should also be sure to practice good habits that help regulate your hormonal health: regular exercise, good nutrition, improving your sleeping habits, and ensuring you’re not using substances like alcohol, cigarettes, or recreational drugs. These help keep your hormones regular and healthy, which may be a benefit in gyno.
If it does not go away and you cannot afford to go for surgery yet, you might have to live with it. This isn’t pleasant, but talking to your doctor about the condition as early as possible gives you the best chance of dealing with it responsibly and may help your future self deal with the condition.
But how do you deal with such a thing?
Well, the first thing would be to fully accept it and fully accept the criticism which will come with it.
Luckily, people won’t notice it the way you notice it. The only people who are going to judge are those within the bodybuilding community, where it’s easy to get fixated on aesthetics and very fine notions of what your body should look like. However, it’s usually not a real concern outside of the gym and in the real world!
People will tell you that it’s not as bad as you think. Truth is, we are always more concerned about our body than others are, and your judgments are likely harsher than anyone else’s!
If you struggle with your gynecomastia at the gym, simply be honest about it when you talk to your friends. It’s important to be open about the effects of it and work to manage what you can – including the relationships with people around you.
Just say, “I have got that annoying thing called gynecomastia, people will think I’m on steroids lol :(” and move on! Once it’s said, it’s over and will be a huge relief. It’s important to engage with these insecurities positively, and you’ll likely find sympathy in those who really care about you.
Anyway, there will always be people doubting your awesome results in the gym, whether you have gynecomastia or not! At least know that you are not alone and a lot of natural bodybuilders or individuals also have it – and that all your hard work is still improving your body, reducing the appearance of the condition, and that your doctor is always the best place to discuss these concerns!
If that helps, leave a comment below and connect with other people who might have the same issue!