TLS #69: Living With Painful Sex with Jesse Coulter


* This episode includes “adult content” and may not be appropriate for young audiences. *

Today’s episode of The Lively Show is touching on a topic we haven’t covered yet: sex.

Painful sex, to be specific.

Jesse Coulter is a wife, mother, blogger (, full-time marketing coordinator, and co-founder of the Austin-based custom furniture company, Builtwell.

In today’s show, Jesse is opening up about her struggle with painful sex throughout much of her adult life.

Jesse isn’t sharing as an “expert” or someone who “has it all figured out.” She’s simply sharing her heart and still unfolding story with us – so that those who may also be struggling with a similar journey may feel a little less alone.

I deeply hope that this show reaches those who may benefit from Jesse’s bravery. This topic is commonly kept secret, increasing the sense of isolation for those struggling with similar issues.

This episode is for anyone who struggles with painful sex, or for anyone who would like to learn more about what challenges this issue can present for those who face it.







  • The handmade furniture business that Jesse and her husband, Alex, started  (which Mr. Lively and I were the first customers of!).
  • The circumstances that Jesse believes may have caused the symptoms and pain she now experiences during sex.
  • The diagnoses that Jesse has had over the years, some she’s felt were accurate and others that were not.
  • The different types of treatment that Jesse has done to treat the symptoms and their varying success.
  • What Jesse believes is most effective for her now.
  • What Jesse has done to overcome the frequent yeast infections that plagued her for years.
  • How Jesse and her husband navigate the issues surrounding the pain Jesse experiences during sex as a couple.
  • What Jesse and Alex have found helps to keep their intimacy alive.
  • Jesse’s own personal relationship with sex, given the difficulties she’s faced over the years.
  • What Jesse would tell someone just starting out on this journey.



Austin Moms Blog where Jesse is a contributor

Photo of the table and benches Jesse and Alex made


Wrinkle Product: Rodan + Fields Acute Care Strips


Lean In

Jesse’s email address: jessercoulter(at)gmail(dot)com







PS – If you know someone who may benefit from Jesse’s story, please share this episode with them!


This Post Has 26 Comments

  1. Birdie

    I’m so glad vaginismus is being talked about more openly. Before my diagnosis I struggled with a couple of things not mentioned here – a nagging voice in the back of head that said I didn’t love my partner enough, and I had all but convinced myself that I must have been molested at a young age to have these symptoms. In my readings since I’ve concluded these are both common feelings for people who don’t realize they have vaginismus. The Women’s Therapy Center’s website has a lot of great information and interviews that helped me:

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with us and for that resource. I hope it helps someone who may be feeling similar to what you’ve said you experienced.

      Thank you, thank you.

  2. RedSoxGirl10

    This was such a great episode. Jesse, I just love how REAL you were in this whole episode. I love how you were just like yes, I’ve found something that works for me, it’s called alcohol. As someone who has suffered from some of these issues after childbirth I actually laughed out loud because that is so accurate. Your description of what pelvic floor PT is like was also so similar to mine. My husband laughs at the convos I have with my PT while she is helping get rid of scar tissue/relaxing muscles. Thanks Jess for doing this episode!

    1. Jess Lively

      I’m so glad you could relate and appreciated how real Jesse was. I hope your PT is helping you!

      : )

  3. Jesse is so brave! Thanks to you both for tackling this subject matter with class. It’s also ironic to me that this is episode #69 😉

    1. RedSoxGirl10

      Hahaha! I caught that irony too 🙂

    2. Jess Lively

      I know!!! I saw that as I was putting the show together and laughed out loud.

      An not so intentional, but very funny coincidence!!

  4. AMK

    Thank you so much for doing this episode. So much of this resonated with me — the yeast infections as the beginning of the pain, the PT, the dilators, the fear. I would recommend finding a gyn who can/knows how to prescribe a hormonal compounding cream. That made a tremendous difference for me. Also, I would say that as for probiotics, the most effective ones come from naturopathic pharmacies and require refrigeration. This whole process feels humiliating. I searched online for hours and found mostly less than good content. I’m so glad you got this information out so that people can realize what’s going on with them and realize that this is truly something that happens TO you, not a deep personal flaw.

    1. Jess Lively

      Thank you so much for sharing a bit about your experience along with all of this great information, AMK!

  5. Faye

    I have a question for Jesse, how can you actively want to do your therapy and have sex when trying to make a baby but not during the rest of the time to enjoy your husband? Is it more a mental thing than then physical for you then?

  6. Jess Lively

    Thank you, Sydney! I’m glad you are liking the season 2 so far. I can’t wait to share what else I have up my sleeve. ; )

  7. Kiki D.

    This was a great episode! Thanks Jesse, for being willing to discuss such a painful topic. It was helpful to hear that someone else has been through this. I’ve had Stage IV endometriosis for twenty years and lots of scar tissue from three separate operations. I was sent to PT and it was the most miserable experience ever! Even though I had a great, professional, understanding therapist. I came home from every appointment more miserable than I went in, and it usually took me an entire day to recover physically and mentally. In the end, it turned out that I had more scar tissue and an arterial malformation related to what’s called “pelvic congestion syndrome.” I had a fourth operation a few weeks ago to get all this removed. During the last year, I basically couldn’t tolerate sex at all, and that was really tough for me – I love being with my husband! He was great about it but it quickly becomes a “mental issue” for both partners – he didn’t want to hurt me and if I did hurt, I’d tense up even more. It’s tough stuff, and all through it you wonder how much more you can ask of your friends (to listen) and your partner (to be patient and understand.) Thanks again for a great episode, Jesse and Jess. I forwarded a link to my PT.

  8. erica

    Thank you Jesse for your vulnerability and truth. Sharing your experience must have been a bit tough but know you have helped out so many women. I had painful sex for years before I felt comfortable telling the nurse practitioner at my ob/gyn office. I would have severe burning and irritation after sex and had a history of yeast infections since I was in my teens. She recommended I see a women’s health specialist at University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and they diagnosed me with chronic yeast infections. I was on a pulse therapy regimen of fluconazole orally for 9 months to a year and I was also prescribed a estrogen/lidocaine cream from compounding pharmacy to use at the the opening of my vagina daily. I also had to go to the ob/gyn for a yeast culture if I felt any symptoms of a yeast infection after that for a few months to make sure they didn’t recur. That solved it finally for me. Not sure if that will help you but I know you mentioned about the yeast infections starting. I never had muscle spasms or tightening but always burning and pain after sex because I so was dry and irritated in my vagina. However, I can totally identify with you in regards to your lack of self-confidence as a woman. I would often cry after sex and it was very stressful for me and feeling like I wasn’t enough for my husband. Thankfully he was also very supportive and we dealt with it for a while until I finally realized what was wrong. I wish the very best for you and thank you for being so brave and honest!

    1. Jess Lively

      Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us, Erica!

      I hope that it helps those who can benefit from your experience. : )

      Thank YOU for being so brave and honest.

  9. Jessica

    I appreciated the candid talk about a topic that I was certainly aware of but had heard very little discussion about. Though sex can occasionally be painful, I don’t suffer from the same problem. I just loved hearing about something new and potentially so useful to women in general in addition to those with the same challenge. Jesse mentioned Botox as an option she hadn’t pursued and I also wondered about the option of muscle relaxants as a possible solution. Maybe side effects don’t make them worthwhile. Anyway – thanks again for another great podcast!

  10. Jess Lively

    Thank you so much for sharing a resource for those who might benefit from it, Megan. That is so kind of you!

    I hope you have a great weekend. : )

  11. Faith Cornwall

    Many thanks to Jess and Jesse for featuring this important topic. As a fellow v pain sufferer I wanted to share some additional resources: 1.) “Healing Painful Sex: A Woman’s Guide to Confronting, Diagnosing, and Treating Sexual Pain,” by Deborah Coady, MD and Nancy Fish, MSW, MPH. Excellent, excellent resource. 2.) The resources page on my blog about living with v pain,, has additional resources as well: books, yoga teachers, blogs, etc. Feel fee to contact me through the website if you want to chat; I care very much about helping my sisters along what can be a very bumpy road.

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