Boys have breasts too
Before you rush to get a test, remember it’s a normal chest
“Oh god, what is this generation coming to,” yelped Mrs. Chopra, coming up behind me and startling me as I was setting the medals on the table for my daughter’s swimathon birthday party at the club.
I rolled my eyes behind my sunglasses, “What now, Mrs. Chopra? How is this new generation torturing you?”
She ignored my sarcasm, pointing to a kid in the pool, “Look at her, going topless in the pool with boys around and that too when she has already started to sprout breasts.”
A little concerned now, I looked to where she was pointing and I spluttered with laughter as realisation dawned. “That’s not a girl, Mrs. Chopra. That’s Vivaan – a boy.”
Her eyes almost popped out, “A boy…with breasts!”
I quickly whisked her away, hoping Vivaan had not heard her words. The poor boy would be horrified. I was happy that he was here for the swimming party, because I have seen a lot of boys with similar issues extremely embarrassed about their breast development and refusing to strip down for the pool.
Yes, you heard me right – breast development for boys. And boys have breasts. Before you have a mini heart attack – please know that it’s normal and quite common.
A lot of babies at birth – both male and female have a slight swelling around the breasts. Sometimes the ‘malishwali’ squeezes the baby’s breasts and you may even see a few drops of milk come out of it (Never ever allow that though). This swelling of breasts is the result of hormones being passed on from the mother and disappears naturally after a few weeks.
It then resurfaces for some boys during puberty. That is the result of hormones too. Boys produce the male hormones androgens at puberty, but they also produce a little bit of the female hormone oestrogen and due to the fluctuation of these hormone levels, some boys develop slight breasts.
This is not a sign that there is anything wrong with them or that they are turning into a girl or any such nonsensical thought. It’s just hormones playing havoc for a while. Only in rare cases do some have large breast development, a condition called gynaecomastia which might require surgery to correct it. Sometimes, the enlarged breast tissue could also be due to obesity.
Actually, all males have breasts, but they are flat and not enlarged like a female’s. So, if a boy’s breast tissue develops during puberty, it can be an awkward and scary period for him. That’s when parents need to step in. While it’s necessary to assure your boy that it’s normal if he has this growth, it’s important to tell your boy about this even if he doesn’t, so that he does not tease someone who does.
The good news is that this is a temporary phase and the swelling of the breast tissue will mostly recede in a couple of years. For some, it may continue to be there till the end of puberty, which could be when he hits 20. Yet, for some others who are overweight, this could be visible until they lose weight. The swelling of the breast tissue might linger for some, but it will not grow bigger like the female breast — so you can release that breath.
Anju Kish is a sex educator and the founder of Untaboo
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