Boys, Breasts and Puberty….Who Knew?

Sad and thoughtful hispanic teenage boyA friend of mine with a son just entering puberty recently discovered a little known fact: a large number (possibly a majority) of boys in early puberty develop breast tissue. Her son had a tender swollen lump under one of his nipples and when she took him to their pediatrician, she learned that anywhere from 40% to three-quarters of boys will develop this “breast bud”. Who knew?

For boys entering puberty, gynecomastia – development of breast tissue in males – tends to be confined to a breast bud of less than 2 inches across, right below the nipple. It can occur on just one side or under both nipples and is often quite sore, especially if the area is banged or bumped.

Puberty hormones are the culprit for this breast tissue growth, and it is a very normal – though seemingly little discussed – aspect of puberty in boys. The good thing is that it shouldn’t grow beyond a small bud, isn’t generally very visible (especially under clothes – consider a swim shirt in the summer) and goes away over time as the hormones settle down, generally within a year but it could take up to 2 years.

While this is a fairly common aspect of puberty and just takes time to resolve, it can still be worthwhile to have your son checked out by a pediatrician. I know my friend’s son found a lot of relief in the doctor’s words about how common and normal this is – and it’s always good to get an unusual lump looked at, especially as there are some other rare causes of breast development in males.

About the Author

Audra is an experienced pharmaceutical marketing professional, aspiring writer, and mother of Elliott, a high-spirited twenty-year old. Frequently tired but never bored, she has a strong interest in public health fostered by numerous years implementing global oncology education programs as well as by her twenty-year crazy (wild? amazing?) adventure in parenting. She recently earned a Masters in Public Health to augment her expertise in health policy and health promotion. Audra is a founding member of the PedSafe Team


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