5th March 2024

Meet Kate O'Brien - Pelvic Health Physiotherapy

Kate O’Brien is a Pelvic Health Clinical Specialist Physiotherapist at Mater Private Network in Dublin. She qualified as a pelvic health physiotherapist in 2016 from St George’s Hospital in London and worked for several years in London as pelvic floor physiotherapist team leader.

Kate returned to Ireland in 2023 and joined Mater Private Network, sharing her specialist knowledge and providing a holistic approach to pelvic health care which she is so passionate about.

Kate, in what ways has your experience at Mater Private Network been different from your time in London?

Working in a large London teaching hospital gives you exposure to a wide range of pelvic health patients who present with many different pelvic health related disorders. It also gives you the opportunity to work as part of a large multidisciplinary team including consultants, specialist nurses and GPs. 

At Mater Private, I have the opportunity to work alongside consultants from different areas, which is fantastic, and I believe my years of experience gives me confidence to effectively collaborate with them.  Ongoing communication with consultants enables us to identify opportunities for service enhancement and development, which is an important aspect of our work. 

How do you normally approach treatment with patients who meet with you? 

I have a more holistic approach to care, keeping everything as conservative as possible until surgery is needed. Many surgeons view this as a favourable approach when interacting with patients. As a pelvic health physiotherapist, I always adopt a patient-centred care approach. This means that I tailor treatments to the patient's specific needs. When it is appropriate to consider surgery, I work with the surgeon. Towards the end of a patient’s treatment, they typically return to physiotherapy to assess their progress and adjust their care plan as needed. 

Which type of patients do you typically see and what are the health challenges do you address?

I treat patients with pelvic floor dysfunction. These symptoms can range from bladder issues including incontinence, overactivity, or bladder pain syndrome. Bowel disorders including incontinence or constipation, painful sex, widespread pelvic pain, pelvic organ prolapse and abdominal muscular issues post-surgery and antenatal or postpartum are also symptoms I provide treatment for.

I routinely review post gynaecological surgery patients and post prostatectomy patients in Mater Private. I also treat the effects of hormones on menopausal women and pregnant and post-partum women.  

A physiotherapy session will aim to address all the patient’s concerns and issues, and factors in all the contributing components which may influence their presentation. These include past medical history, current social history including lifestyle, work-life balance. Any contributing stress factors, diet, weight and sleeping habits are also addressed. I always ensure I address all aspects that could contribute to a patient’s symptoms and educate them on areas that they may be able to improve on.

Pelvic Health Clinic

Mater Private pelvic health service provides a complete multidisciplinary service to diagnose, treat and manage pelvic floor conditions for both male and female patients.

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What is the main message you can give to people who may be experiencing issues with their pelvic health? 

The most important thing is that patients speak up and they don't remain silent about their symptoms. Due to the nature of these symptoms, many people feel embarrassed to seek help or believe that their symptoms are normal. It is not normal to live with these symptoms. 

Speak to your GP, health clinician or a physiotherapist if you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above. Do not suffer in silence. 

What’s the first step a person should take if their pelvic health is a concern? 

Speak to a GP, a health professional and do research. By doing research it may help you to decide a course of action which could be to see a GP, a urologist, a gynaecologist, or a physiotherapist.

Pelvic health physiotherapists are very well educated in recognising where you need to be in our care pathway, and they can assess you and redirect you accordingly. 

What can we do to tackle any stigmas that may exist around talking about and addressing your pelvic health?

Educating children from a young age is key. Starting with education around pelvic health in schools and communities will help to remove stigmas surrounding pelvic floor disorders. Ensuring that correct language is used, such as “vulva and vagina”, from an early ago could also help to ensure people feel more comfortable with using these terms.  We cannot influence the conversations in homes, but increasing information and advice over social media may also help to start conversions between family members and friends which could be the first step to seeking the help you require. 

What differences have you seen in the lives of patient who decide to take the appropriate steps to address their pelvic health?

This is why I love my job - physiotherapy plays a significant role in patients' improvement.

Patients can often suffer in silence with their pelvic health. If they have incontinence, they might become less sociable and that influences their quality of life and their confidence. If they experience painful sex, it can have distressing impact on relationships. Pelvic health disorders can also take its toll on your lifestyle and your mental health.

Giving patients the confidence to speak about their pelvic health issues in a private clinic room is part of the process and patients can speak about how it affects them. That first step makes a big difference in terms of the recovery.


If you’d like to learn more about our Pelvic Health Clinic or book an appointment with our  Pelvic Health Clinical Specialist Physiotherapist please visit the following link

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The physiotherapy teams across Mater Private Network provide a wide range of physiotherapy treatments to support our patients, helping them each their maximum potential for their physical needs and abilities.

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