Testosterone and impulsivity; what’s really the culprit

It’s been long thought that testosterone contributes to aggression and impulsivity.

You just can’t trust someone with high T, since they might cheat on you, suddenly lash out or go do something crazy and stupid for no good reason.

I’m here to tell you it’s not caused by high testosterone.

Impulsive people have a strong urge to act without thinking. It is sometimes regarded as a positive trait but rash impulsiveness is also widely present in clinical disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), drug dependence, mania, and antisocial behavior. 

What really contributes to impulsivity

Estrogen and serotonin.


This study found that the aromatization of testosterone to estrogen may be involved in the pro-impulsive effects of high testosterone doses in humans (R). Non-aromatizable steroids, such as DHT, don’t contribute to impulsivity, but rather have very calming effects.

Other studies have also found that higher levels of estradiol are related to greater impulsivity (R) and estrogen is positively associated with increased drug abuse (a sign of impulsivity) (R). Elevated estrogen levels facilitate dopamine-mediated positive reinforcement (R).

Progesterone and its metabolite allopregnanolone, reduce stress and impulsive behavior, mainly via its GABA agonism (R). Testosterone, via DHT conversion, also has GABA-ergic effects, which also reduce impulsivity. Clearly, estrogen is stimulating and in excess, promotes impulsivity.


The serotonin receptors 5-HT1A and 2A are involved in impulsivity. High 5-HT2A expression and sensitivity are found in impulsive rats and low 5-HT1A is associated with impulse aggression (R, R).

Excess 5-HT2A activation (as opposed to 5-HT2C activation) promotes impulsivity, whereas 5-HT2A antagonism reduces impulsivity (R, R).

Do you know what increases 5-HT2A and lowers 5-HT1A expression? Estrogen.

What to do

The main point here is that pharmacological doses of T might cause impulsivity due to excessive aromatization. Naturally high T is unlikely to do it, unless someone has really high estradiol and/or is really sensitive to it, in conjunction with low allopregnanolone and DHT.

Be sure to have your estradiol, estrone, cortisol, prolactin, progesterone, DHT, TSH and total and free T4 and T3 tested. High estrogen or sensitivity can lead to high prolactin and TSH and low free T4 and T3.

My 2 favorite food items for lowering excess estrogen are oysters and white button mushrooms.

I’d do:

  • 1 can of oysters x2-3 weekly and
  • 70g of canned mushrooms daily.

Feverfew, Ginkgo Biloba and Bacopa monneiri antagonize the 5-HT2A receptor, so if you struggle with ADHD impulsivity, then these might be very helpful as well.

Related articles:

>1000ng/dl Testosterone: My Step-by-Step Guide on How I Do It Naturally!

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