Time for teens: boys, puberty, and breasts

Dear Dr. Mom

My 13 year old son has a tender lump under his left breast. He’s had it for the last 3 months. Should I be worried?

When boys enter puberty, something very common can happen…they can actually develop some breast tissue on one or both sides. This is called gynecomastia and occurs in about half of all boys going through puberty.

This lump of breast tissue can be quite tender, but more importantly it can be embarrassing for boys. They don’t understand what is happening and may suddenly become very self-conscious when it comes time to take their shirts off for swimming or changing for PE.

Let your teen know how completely normal this is. It does not mean he’s turning into a girl. It does mean that his body is changing and is under the influence of hormones, both androgen (mostly) and some estrogen (which accounts for this temporary increase in breast tissue).

The good news? This is entirely temporary and typically resolves within 6-18 months.

Wearing loose fitting shirts will help ease some of the discomfort and make it less noticeable.

Reassure, reassure, and reassure some more.

Keep in mind that certain medications, drugs, and medical conditions can also cause gynecomastia. If you’re in doubt, always have your teen seen by his doctor.

That was our teen time for today. I’ll be covering more teen topics in the future, please let me know if you have a teen question.

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2 Responses to Time for teens: boys, puberty, and breasts
  1. Paula @ Simply Sandwich
    March 30, 2012 | 2:19 pm

    I love teen time! Obviously since I have two, I can relate to these issues. I had never heard of this situation before and am happy to know more about it.

    I don’t know that I have a teen question exactly but I would like your opinion or clarification about the teen vaccines, mainly for meningitis and cervical cancer prevention.

    Have a great weekend Melissa!

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