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What Happens When Men Develop Breasts?

November 8, 2012

By Elisabeth Dale

It May be Time for a New Line of Male Lingerie

Less than one percent of all breast cancer cases are found in men. It’s a rare disease, striking one out of every 1000 versus one out of 8 women in their lifetime. It’s still relatively uncommon for males to be diagnosed with this “pink” or female disease. Yet what men seem to experience more often is the struggle women commonly have with their own breasts: finding the right fit in a bra.  No, it’s not some sexual fetish creating a kinky fashion demand. There are lingerie lines available to meet that need. Rather it is men developing female-like mounds on their chests and discovering that they need to contain and restrain this new breast flesh.

Male breast growth is a medical condition known as gynecomastia. Young males can develop a hormonal imbalance that causes them to grow breasts. Often the only treatment available to young patients is breast reduction surgery. One out of four men between the age of 50 and 70 are also diagnosed with this disorder. It turns out that many drugs used to treat enlarged prostates, heart disease, and even depression can result in gynecomastia. These men face the same body image issues as adolescent girls. But more mature men are less inclined to resort to surgery when it comes to their new man boobs. They instead turn to the array of women’s bras to camouflage and control these breasts under their clothes.

I’ve received many emails from men who have asked for my advice on the best bras for their body type. They tend to need garments with broader bands and smaller cups. Not always satisfied with male compression shirts, they turn to women’s sports bra manufacturers for comfort and relief. They have the same complaints as most women:  suffer from back pain, difficulty with sizing, and can’t find styles that flatter their figures. Many men now rely on some of my personal everyday bra brands like Moving Comfort, Wacoal, and others.

An aging population of baby boomers is bound to increase its dependence on the drugs that result in this breast growing side effect. Should bra designers take into consideration this new male foundation need? What do you think? Is it okay for a guy to be fitted in a women’s lingerie department or store?

 

 
COMMENTS
21
  1. Don Deitz Friday - 09 / 11 / 2012 Reply
    Women can't appreciate what it is like for a guy to develop breasts. In my case it was a side effect of prostate medication I started taking when I turned 50. As my breasts developed I went through stages of ignoring it, then embarrassment, realizing that compression shirts were not working that well, to accepting that the best solution for me was a bra. My wife was very supportive through this whole process and bought me my first few bras. It felt very strange and weird wearing a bra but after a few weeks I was very willing to trade that for the relief from my chest and back pain. My first were plain full coverage bras and a few sports bras. After several years I started getting nicer bras, many from Bali and Wacoal. It is 9 years later and I still buy Bali and Wacoal. I have come to like demi cup and molded cup bras. I don't see anything wrong with occasionally wearing a very nice bra from Aubade or Chantelle or other high-end brand. I don't see that as being much different from wearing an expensive shirt and tie. I wear a 38B and buy in stores and online. --Don calandmass@aol.com
  2. Elisabeth Dale (@TheBreastLife) Friday - 09 / 11 / 2012 Reply
    Thanks, Don, for sharing your experience. I know there are many guys out there who, like you, have had to adjust to a new breast life but may not know their options. More and more men (one out of 4 according to doctors) are having to deal with a new breast life. Thanks for your insight and willingness to talk about the issue.
  3. Don Deitz Saturday - 10 / 11 / 2012 Reply
    Thank you, Elisabeth. A guy has to be in alot of discomfort to start wearing a bra. I came to realize that wearing a bra didn't make me a different person than I was before. So I have breasts now. OK. So I wear a bra to support the girls. OK. So I learned the differences between a full coverage, demi, molded, balconette, push up, racer back, and front hook bras. OK. I know what size I wear and what styles and brands I like. OK. It doesn't matter if I'm wearing a plain sports bra or an elegant embroidered tulle bra. I am comfortable with my breast life. And it's OK. I'm still me. Maybe some other guys would also write here. It feels like I'm the only guy who ever says anything. Don
  4. Don Deitz Saturday - 10 / 11 / 2012 Reply
    Della -- It's not that I really wanted to start wearing bras but a side effect of the medication I need caused some breast growth. The pain in my back and shoulders forced me to look for a solution. I tried other things but bras turned out to be the best solution for me.
  5. Darlene Porter Friday - 03 / 05 / 2013 Reply
    I am 46 and I am a long time crossdresser, I kind of hope Im one of the one in four you are talking about. If I developed breasts at age 50 I'd be more than happy. I wear bras all the time any way. I'd like to know what kind of medication you take.
  6. robert Friday - 13 / 09 / 2013 Reply
    First.....i dont see a b cup causing back and shoulder pain. Second.... you dont need a reason to like to wear womens clothing. Third...be you and dont make excuses.
  7. Dana Saturday - 04 / 01 / 2014 Reply
    I have the same problem Im a 40c and this was due to a hormone imbalance. I was first fitted at fashioning and after they closed i began buying my bras from lane breast. I was first confronted by my supervisor at work about it. The ladys who work there are required to wear a bra and they brougt it to her attention i should have to wear one as well. She then spoke to me about it and i complied. I was surprised to be a C cup. I am glad this happened as it relieved a lot of soreness i was experiencing. I no longer work there but i continue to wear a bra to this day.
  8. aboywithgirls Friday - 07 / 03 / 2014 Reply
    I had to make that same choice and I chose the bra. I developed breasts at puberty and was teased earning the nickname "tits". I started by getting my sisters old bras just to try to keep my breasts from hurting. But fast forward to today. ... I actually don't mind going to get fitted at the store. Just when you think you are wearing the perfect bra it's still nice to find one that fits and you like just as much if not more. I currently wear a 38 DD Vanity Fair or Soma with a couple of other brands. I haven't tried a Wacoal yet. I am with Don and have no shame in wearing a bra.
  9. John Friday - 14 / 03 / 2014 Reply
    It is a shame that the world lives under a rock. I was diagnosed with Gynecomastia about a year ago. There needs to be some support groups for men like us. There is a huge amount of emotions that go though one's mind. Let's face it, if you do anything that isn't "Normal" you are a problem to society. I wear bras for their intended purpose. There has been the occasional day that I went out and forgot to put one on, it is so annoying when they move freely. Riding a bus with no bra sucks, every bump you feel it on your chest. For the idiots who wrote on this story, people who are in my shoes didn't ask for breasts, I am a healthy normal weight 6"2 man so it isn't obesity. Mine stem from Risperdal I had to take for 11 years. Wasn't my choice to take meds, being a kid I was forced to go with the flow. I now as an adult have to suffer for the greedy docs who just wanted to sell pills. Mine are more glandular, hence why I have Gynecomastia.
    • Ellisabeth Dale Sunday - 16 / 03 / 2014 Reply
      Thanks, John, for sharing your experience. I agree that there needs to be more education about this issue; many parents don't understand that gynecomastia is a side effect of certain prescription drugs. Have you looked online for forums about men who wear bras? I know that there are many men in your same situation.
    • aboywithgirls Saturday - 26 / 04 / 2014 Reply
      John, I found what you said very interesting because I can relate to so much of it (except the part of leaving the house without a bra) lol. Well I haven't done that for a while. But I also get it. Seems that everyone out the wants men with breasts to compress, bind, cover, or cut them off. It seems that all of these other options will cause pain, damage, and further risks to our health. The only logical solution is to properly support your breasts with a bra. I'm not asking anybody to make a "man" bra. And quite frankly, I don't believe they make a bra for a man with 38E's. I'm very happy with the fit I get from bras already marketed to women. All I am asking is for people not to pass judgment and tell me I shouldn't wear a bras for my breasts. I never intended to grow breasts however now that I have them I will make the best of it and I will care for them and do what's best for my comfort and health.
  10. John Wednesday - 19 / 03 / 2014 Reply
    Hi Elisabeth, I have written plenty of forum posts covering all sorts of topics. Maybe you could take a look at some of them and use my information for future articles? https://www.gynecomastia.org/smf/17/diagnosed-one-year-ago-a-recap-on-what-i-have-experienced/ I would like to become an advocate for Gynecomastia education and awareness. There are too much wrong information being spewed. I have read your newest article "Advice for guys who wear bras" and found it to be a step in the right direction. It even gave me the courage to go and get a bra fitting. Which I am a 36C according to the fitter I went to. Too many advice columns advocate surgery and compression garments. They never want men to just live with it. I made the decision to only remove my breasts if I end up with cancer. They are a part of me and I don't see anything wrong with them. I used to wear a sports bra for 10+ Hours a day. I used to come home with rashes and irritated nipples. I finally decided a few weeks ago to don a regular T-Shirt bra and feel much more comfortable. However, now I am worried about how much bigger my breast look and the outline of the bra from the back. Out of shame, I am wearing a sweater jacket to cover myself so people don't know I am wearing a bra. I just want to be left alone and comfortable. I want to live in a world where a man wearing a bra to support his breast can be viewed as a normal part of life. People need to understand that there is nothing wrong with a man looking towards a bra for the function they provide. It is amazing how people assume that guys wearing bras are doing so for "gay or transsexual" reasons. Just remember when you Assume, "You make an ASS out of yoU and ME". I love your perspective on this very touchy subject. The sad truth is more and more men will encounter this issue. I wouldn't be surprised if Bra companies started making lines for men. I would like to offer any information to you, just email me. I am not a writer by profession, however when you live with something every day, you get passionate about it.
    • Aly Thursday - 03 / 04 / 2014 Reply
      Hi John! What is your e-mail address? I know a young man (27 years old) who is suffering from gynecomastia and is dealing with a lot of the same problems that you describe. I was actually reading this article to look for something that could help him. I would love to give him your e-mail address so he can get in contact with you if he wants to talk. :)
    • aboywithgirls Wednesday - 23 / 04 / 2014 Reply
      John, I can relate to every word you have written. I'm a 40 year old man with breasts. I wear a 38E bra. I have also worn the sports bras and I'm now wearing traditional bras. My breasts are definitely what you would consider feminine in size and shape. For the most part, I can find bras that fit my shape without to much trouble at a lingerie boutique. Most department stores only go to DD. But I have no problem having and taking care of my breasts. I do not wish to be rid of them. They are gifts and unless my life is threatened by cancer, I will continue to dress them with a good bra that suits my days activities just as any woman does.
    • Elisabeth Dale (@TheBreastLife) Friday - 09 / 05 / 2014 Reply
      Hi John. Could you email me at e (at) thebreastlife (dot) com? I'd love to talk to you about this issue and will take a look at your forum posts. Thank you.
  11. aboywithgirls Saturday - 26 / 04 / 2014 Reply
    I would also like to add to the men out there with breasts, you need to take care of them just like any health conscious woman would. If you're like me and you've decided your breasts, you have to do more than just find a good fitting bra. Make certain that when you have your annual physical you tell your concerns about breaststroke cancer and you want a FULL breaststroke examination. There are too many physicians who will treat your breasts like the elephant in the room that nobody will talk about. So remember, these breasts are your breasts and nobody cares more about them than you.
  12. Jason b Wednesday - 07 / 05 / 2014 Reply
    Im a 38c and a regular bra for me is very comfortable depending on the brand, I don't really fancy sports bras to much. I only wear one around the house, I don't really go out much in public with one unless I have a jacket on, which is not to often do to hot climate. Im very insecure about people seeing my straps, I wish I can wear one at work. I line of work is yard service and my chest gets really sore from the ridding mower. Im thinking about telling my coworker that I want to wear a bra at work, just so he doesn't trip when he sees the out lines. What do you guys think how I should mention it to him??
    • Elisabeth Dale (@TheBreastLife) Friday - 09 / 05 / 2014 Reply
      Hi Jason. You could try wearing a thin, sleeveless undershirt over your bra to help with hiding straps. I don't think you need to tell a co-worker anything about your underwear habits. But that's just my opinion.
  13. aboywithgirls Saturday - 10 / 05 / 2014 Reply
    Jason, it sounds like you've accepted the fact that you have breasts. I have also. I'm a little further along with my breast development. I currently wear a 38E bra. I can't go braless. I resolved a long time ago that in order to be comfortable, I will wear a bra to support the girls. Like yourself, I started with sports bras but soon realized that a traditional underwire bra is what I need to get through the day to be comfortable. If you want to be truly comfortable, go get professionally fitted at a reputable lingerie store. These ladies are usually very professional and curtious. You find that you're not the first guy in need of support. It's best to call ahead and ask, get the name of who you speak with and make an appointment. It's usually best for both parties to schedule you in during slower business hours. This allows them to take the time needed to fit you without being rushed and reducing any awkwardness that may occur with female customers getting fitted in the next room. As for your friend, just wear it and tell him that you have to. Just explain the pain you experience and your doctor recommended it. Bras are for breasts, so if the bra fits, wear it!
  14. Hal 49 Monday - 25 / 08 / 2014 Reply
    Seeing a change in your personal appearance can be a difficult experience especially if it happens suddenly or over a short period of time. I was taking medication that unknown to me had a side effect of possible breast growth in males. By the time I began to research, I had definite small mounds around each of my nipples and I could feel extra tissue under the skin in both areas. I wondered if I was beginning gynecomastia but felt embarrassed talking about it with anybody except my wife. She was very understanding. I began to come to terms with it and realize that having a more feminine breast than male chest was not a problem for me. But it was still hard to find good information from doctors. Most online Drs seem to be only interested in "curing" by surgical removal. But my nipples were no longer the only sign, because I was obviously growing breasts. I was quite happy to be experiencing this. Now a couple years later, there is a definite feminine shape and I mostly need to wear a bra to enhance the shape that I have come to accept as mine and to give me a little comfort when nipples rub against shirts. It's changed the way I look at clothing, too. If I'm to be at least partly feminine and to be known as a man with boobs, why should I not be able to feel more free about things that look nice? That doesn't stop at wearing a bra that is lacy, but now also underwear ... how could I have gone so long wearing boxers and regular guy's underwear and missed out on all those super-comfortable panties? I can buy three pairs for the price of one tightie whitey, too! I feel more happy within myself, and my wife tells me our relationship has never been better. I am still taking the medication and it's most likely going to last the rest of my life. And it's changed the way I live my life, too. "Never be afraid of change, especially if it involves changing your mind".
  15. Bill 70 Monday - 29 / 09 / 2014 Reply
    Well in four years since I began to notice my breasts have gone from a week A (over weight) to a good C (they fit snuggle into one of my wife' bras - 2 years ago when I started to measure my breast there was lots of cloth in the cups...not now). Several of the medicines for diabetes increase breast development. One doctor two years ago did a Testosterone vs Estrogen. My reading were reversed for a male low Testosterone (below the min) and Estrogen higher than where male readings should be...in fact he said my Estrogen readings where equal of a 14 to 16 year old girl causing gynecomastia. He started Testosterone injections once a week. After a month he had to switch me to a cream because of cost. He gave me a subscription for a year. I faithfully applied the cream. My breasts continued to grow, I was a nice B Cup according to my wife. Did some research and found out that a guy with hormonal imbalance, the Testosterone converts to Estrogen thus increasing my breast development. So a year of the T cream added almost a small C cup. Accepting my breasts I decided to make them fuller and more famine. Tried several things like Fenugreek and Red Clover - some minor changes. Then I came across Pueraria Mirifica - What a difference I am now a full C cup - no lose cloth when I put my wife's C Cup bra on - the cups are fully filled with my breasts. I like them period, they are mine. My wife says when they jiggle under my shirt (another cup) then she will help me with a fitting for the proper size bra. I have come to embrace my breast as part of me - liposuction is not my cup of tea maybe if I were 30.


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Elisabeth Dale

 
BREAST BRIEFS ~ All about breast health and breast related topics
 

Contributing Authors Include:

 

 
ELISABETH DALE is an internationally renowned breast expert and author, and the founder of www.TheBreastLife.com. She has appeared on Good Morning America, The Tyra Banks Show, BBC World News, NPR, and has been featured in The New York Times, Cosmo, Glamour, Men’s Health, and the Sunday London Times.
 
In her book, bOObs: A Guide to Your Girls, and on her website, Elisabeth entertains, educates and encourages AAA through KK cups to learn more about their bodies and support the changes their breasts go through from puberty to motherhood and menopause.
 

 
At TheBreastLife.com, women can bare and share their intimate feelings and stories about their bodies (mammoirs), and experience a safe haven to explore new and innovative products, services, clothing, and surgical options. You can visit www.TheBreastLife.com to find the best breast gear and garments that have earned The Breast Life Seal of Approval from a trusted community of product testers, and share your finds and feelings with an active community of other smart, stylish and interested women.
 

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ALLISON GOODLIN

Allison is a professional writer, who enjoys writing about health, beauty tips, and s kin care. She has written for several beauty blogs and fashion publications, but has recently found an interest in the plastic surgery industry. After overcoming breast cancer, Allison has focused her research on breast surgeries, with emphasis on patient lifestyle after breast augmentation, breast lifts and especially breast reconstruction for cancer patients. She is dedicated to informing seasoned and future patients on the how-to’s after breast surgery.
 
She truly feels that each patient should experience the excitement of purchasing lingerie once your new look has finally healed and with the experienced surgical advice, patients will be equipt with the information to enjoy their buying experience.