Gynecomastia is the clinical name for a condition affecting around 36% of Australian men: enlargement of glandular breast tissue in males, also known as ‘man boobs’. Benign gynecomastia occurs normally in infants, during puberty, and after middle age. In adult males, it can occur as a side effect of body building steroids and prescribed medications. Steroids can cause gynecomastia onset to happen quickly and lead to the most severe cases, and unlike fat deposits, glandular tissue, once enlarged, can’t be decreased through exercise or weight loss.
If you’ve developed gynecomastia, you can choose to cover it up with compression shirts, treat it permanently (and invasively) with surgery, or with a medically administered hormone therapy, such as progesterone therapy.
What is Progesterone?
- 1 What is Progesterone?
- 2 What is Male Progesterone Deficiency?
- 3 Does progesterone cause gynecomastia?
- 4 Progesterone-induced gynecomastia vs oestrogen-induced gynecomastia
- 5 How to prevent and reverse oestrogen-induced gynecomastia:
- 6 Using natural progesterone creams to combat gynecomastia:
- 7 Final words:
Progesterone is a key hormone in women. Women’s bodies start producing high levels of it during pregnancy, but in men its role is very different. In men, progesterone promotes robust health and good sexual functioning. It works alongside important hormones like testosterone and other androgens and can assist in normalizing levels of oestrogen. Doctors have suggested that progesterone should be used as the first treatment for an imbalance or deficiency of sex hormones. Like testosterone, progesterone increases your libido, improves mood, prevents weight gain, facilitates muscle growth and even protects you from prostate issues. There’s even evidence that it can help maintain good bone density, and, unrelatedly, good erections. Progesterone binds to oestrogen receptors and stops thus reduces the effects of oestrogen in the body, preventing moodiness, weight gain, and of course, man boobs.
What is Male Progesterone Deficiency?
Progesterone is a normally occurring hormone in men, and is necessary to neutralise the effects of oestrogen, also naturally occurring in men. With lowered levels of either testosterone or progesterone, oestrogen affects the body more, and can ‘feminise’ men. The overall effects of excess oestrogen range widely, but enough of an increase for more than a few months will almost certainly lead to the development of ‘man boobs’ as oestrogen triggers breast tissue to start growing.
Does progesterone cause gynecomastia?
Not in normal dosages. In fact, healthy levels of progesterone guard against gynecomastia, and in safe doses it is a vey successful treatment for reducing existing man boobs. High levels of progesterone cancel out the dominance of oestrogen and combat some of its effects including excess fat under the skin and on the chest and hips, loss of body hair or facial hair, prostate problems, and enlarged breasts. The levels of progesterone produced by women during in pregnancy are so high that their effect on the body changes from a balancing effect to a very active mechanism, which stimulates growth of the foetus and causes breasts to increase in size and start producing milk. But just as the female body needs a low level of testosterone to be healthy, and this amount of testosterone does not cause hair growth or muscle growth associated with masculinity, so do male bodies need a minimum level of progesterone, and the right amount doesn’t cause any amount of femininity.
Progesterone-induced gynecomastia vs oestrogen-induced gynecomastia
Oestrogen-induced gynecomastia is the result of an elevated ratio of oestrogens to androgens. In high levels, oestrogen acts to promote the growth of the glandular tissue that normally exists in male breasts. Although progesterone is a commonly recommended hormonal treatment pathway for oestrogen-induced gynecomastia, careless use of progesterone can be damaging and counter productive. It is important that you create healthy levels of progesterone in your body, and is certainly not a case of more = better. Overly high doses of progesterone can make gynecomastia worse. It’s important to make an informed choice about the appropriate level you should take for your therapy, and equally as important to continually monitor the levels of progesterone and other related hormones in your body once you begin treatment.
How to prevent and reverse oestrogen-induced gynecomastia:
You can influence your progesterone levels naturally through changes to your diet and exercise routine.
By keeping up good levels of b6, zinc, and omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, you can prevent and even reverse oestrogen-induced gynecomastia. Vitamin b6 is known to increase progesterone as well as decrease oestrogen. Chickpeas, kidney beans, and liver are all valuable sources of b6. Nuts such as chestnuts, hazelnuts and walnuts are also rich in b6.
Zinc deficiency is becoming more common these days as soils produce more crops at faster rates and natural levels of zinc in foods decrease. Zinc deficiency is especially prevalent in men who work out a lot and weight train. An off the shelf daily zinc supplement at the lowest recommended daily dose would probably be beneficial for most men and women. One of the effects of zinc is that it inhibits an enzyme called aromatase, which normally converts testosterone into oestrogen. Maintaining good levels of zinc will keep your aromatase down to healthy levels, prevent excess oestrogen, and prevent man boobs. You can find zinc naturally in foods like sesame seeds and pumpkin seeds.
The best natural source of omega 3 and 6 in the correct ration is flaxseed oil. It’s quite volatile, so you’ve got to keep in the fridge, and it doesn’t fry well, so it’s best used as a salad dressing or drizzled over hot food.
Using natural progesterone creams to combat gynecomastia:
When applied in recommended doses under the guidance of your GP or specialist health care professional, progesterone creams are safe and effective. They are formulated to absorb easily into your skin and then into your bloodstream, and for some patients they are more effective and practical than oral doses of progesterone. In Australia, progesterone creams can only be bought from your local chemist with a prescription. This ensures that you’ve spoken to your GP first to double check that this treatment pathway is the best one for you. You should also talk about how you’re going to measure the effectiveness of progesterone cream once you start using it, for example through monthly blood tests to check your hormone levels.
Since you need a script to get progesterone cream in Australia, there’s no legal way to buy it online.
Many over the counter ‘natural’ brands of progesterone that are available in the US have a significantly lower dosage than those that can be acquired with a prescription in Australia. This means that the one you get may be much more potent compared to the ones being talked about online when people talk about the doses and methods that have used for them. Don’t take the advice of another patient who has used another brand over the official advice provided with the product you take home.
The proper dose and application of the cream you buy will depend on the brand, strength, and combination of mechanisms of the exact tube you buy. Talk to the chemist about how you’re supposed to use it and follow the instructions to the letter.
In healthy levels, progesterone is not just responsible for awesome improvements to your health, it’s downright necessary to guard against side effects of low oestrogen, including gynecomastia. Progesterone is the go-to hormone for hormonal therapy treatment of gynecomastia, and in the vast majority of cases is effective and safe.
However, it hasn’t worked for all men, and there are real dangers associated with taking too much of it. Overly high doses of progesterone can be counter-productive in the fight against gynecomastia, and can even cause it in the first place. Visit your GP, get your hormone levels tested, and keep testing them while you get your hormones back in balance and your body back in shape.
Remember that progesterone is a powerful tool to making a relatively healthy body an amazingly healthy and happy body, but if you use progesterone alone without introducing a healthy diet or exercise regime, then you won’t reap the full potential that progesterone therapy can deliver.