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Bodybuilder Gynecomastia: Why and how it happens

May 18, 2018
April 7, 2024

The steroid-induced sculpted ripped bodies come with a price – shrunken testicles, decreased sperm count, baldness, acne and even gynecomastia.

Bodybuilder Gynecomastia

Table of Contents

Anabolic steroids cause bodybuilder gynecomastia. They are man-made hormones that mimic the male sex hormones, the testosterone. It is designed to facilitate muscle growth and repair. Anabolic steroids have some valid medical applications, and doctors prescribe them to manage issues such as delayed puberty in males or muscle loss linked to conditions such as cancer or HIV. However, anabolic steroids are frequently abused to enhance lean muscle mass, reduce fat and accelerate post-injury recovery. 

Depending on the type of steroid used, they come in various forms, such as tablets, capsules or injectable liquids. Illegitimate use of anabolic steroids is most prevalent among men in their 30s. Other groups who use them include: 

  • Professional athletes and bodybuilders. 
  • Young adults and men keen on their body image aspire to attain a muscular physique for enhanced body confidence.

Bodybuilder gynecomastia: Side Effects of Anabolic Steroid Abuse 

The effects of anabolic steroid use can vary among individuals. Potential side effects include bodybuilder gynecomastia, fluid retention, sleep disturbance and sleeping difficulties, nerve damage (from steroid injections), mood swings, irritability, aggression or depression, acne, and increased susceptibility to colds. 

Men may experience testicular and penile shrinkage, decreased sperm count, erectile dysfunction or impotence, prostate issues, gynecomastia or balding. Women may experience amenorrhea, irregular menstrual cycles, breast shrinkage, deepened voice, hirsutism and abnormal enlargement of the clitoris.  

Prolonged use of anabolic steroids can lead to reduced drug efficacy, potentially causing the body to completely cease its own testosterone production. Bodybuilders tend to adopt "steroid cycling", where the drugs are used for a set duration, discontinued and then reintroduced again. 

Another prevalent strategy used within the bodybuilding community involves the combination of multiple steroid types to enhance their overall effectiveness, known as "steroid stacking."

Bodybuilder gynecomastia

The continued anabolic steroid usage is recognised as the primary factor in the development of enlarged male breasts, thus how the phrase "bodybuilder gynecomastia" was coined.

Whether taken orally or via injection, anabolic steroids send signals to the endocrine system, indicating "an adequate supply of testosterone in the body". Consequently, this prompts a decrease in natural testosterone production.   

Now, once the steroid cycle is discontinued, the body will need to restore normal testosterone levels, and this transitional phase often results in elevated estrogen levels (female hormone). Such hormonal imbalance heightens oestrogen levels, triggering the growth of breast glandular tissue potentially leading to gynecomastia.

Notably, while testosterone and oestrogen levels gradually rebalance over time, the glandular tissue within the breast has already developed, and it rarely regresses without surgical intervention. It is important to note that enlarged male breasts will persist even if steroid consumption is discontinued. 

Currently, the U.S. FDA has not approved any official medication for the treatment of gynecomastia. Pharmaceutical interventions are generally not recommended for gynecomastia management. For those seeking a permanent solution to bodybuilder gynecomastia (anabolic-induced male breast enlargement), gynecomastia surgery is the solution. 

Read more about the relationship between gynecomastia and bodybuilders:

Gynecomastia Surgery to Address Bodybuilder Gynecomastia

Gynecomastia surgery, performed by Dr Ivan Puah, typically involves the removal of enlarged male breast glands, which is often combined with liposuction of the chest. 

During the surgery, the patient will be under twilight sedation and cared for by our team of experienced anesthesiologists. Dr Ivan Puah will use his proprietary 360° GTD®️ technique to remove the glandular tissue and the MDC-Sculpt®️ Lipo technique to remove excess fat and contour the chest area into a masculine-looking, sculpted chest. 

Muscle up without steroids

Taking anabolic steroids to build muscles, knowing there is a high probability of getting gynecomastia, is certainly not an option.

Instead, there are other ways to achieve your goals. These include:
• Proper nutrition and dietary habits
• Custom-tailored (gym) training programmes
• Getting enough rest
• Additional supplementation like whey proteins
and more.

Regardless of gender, a beautiful or more defined physique is arguably a common goal. If bodybuilding is your hobby, by all means, pile those muscles on. But do it the right way and do it the safe way to avoid bodybuilder gynecomastia!


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