You've heard part of this story before.

In studies where women are shown composite male faces and asked to rate attractiveness, they report being more sexually attracted to high-testosterone men – in other words, those with more masculine facial traits. The only drawback? Men perceived as "high testosterone" are often seen as less likely to be faithful in marriage and less likely to be good parents.

Now, in the never-ending quest to figure out just what the heck women want, focus has shifted to a new hormone: cortisol.

Behavioral ecologist Fhionna Moore at the University of Abertay Dundee in Scotland has concluded that women prefer men with low levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Instinctively, females seem to know that high-cortisol males have suppressed immune systems and suppressed reproductive function.

"Males with low cortisol possess something desirable that women seek to secure for their offspring," Moore said. "This could be, for example, good health or a healthy response to stress."

In short, the less stressed you are, the more attractive you become to women – at least those that are in the most fertile stage of their menstrual cycle.

While females might be able to tell if your cortisol levels are high simply by using their instincts, males unfortunately don't have that power. Therefore, you're going to have to make the diagnosis based on your symptoms, or lack thereof.

Following is a list of symptoms caused by too high or too low cortisol. The list really is comprised of symptoms of adrenal insufficiency, which would result in cortisol levels being too low in the morning and too high in the evening:

  • Memory problems
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Poor judgment
  • Seeing only the negative
  • Anxious or racing thoughts
  • Constant worrying
  • Eating more or less
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Isolating yourself from others
  • Procrastinating or neglecting responsibilities
  • Using alcohol, cigarettes,
    or drugs to relax
  • Nervous habits (e.g., nail biting, pacing)
  • Moodiness
  • Irritability or short temper
  • Agitation, inability to relax
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Sense of loneliness and isolation
  • Depression or general unhappiness
  • Aches and pains
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Nausea, dizziness
  • Chest pain, rapid heartbeat
  • Loss of sex drive
  • Frequent colds

So what do you do if you're stressed and / or exhibit some of these symptoms?

One supplement option is Rhodiola rosea, which helps your body adapt to – and resist – physical and environmental stress.

Rhodiola should be used in times of higher stress, then cycled off in less stressful times... or until you get a smokin' girlfriend.


  1. LiveScience and Proceedings of the Royal Society B. journal
Chris Shugart is T Nation's Chief Content Officer and the creator of the Velocity Diet. As part of his investigative journalism for T Nation, Chris was featured on HBO’s "Real Sports with Bryant Gumble." Follow on Instagram