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Dr E.T.M. Laan (1962) has been appointed professor of Biopsychosocial Determinants of Sexual Health at the University of Amsterdam's Faculty of Medicine (AMC-UvA).

Prof Ellen Laan
Credits: Dirk Gillissen

Pleasurable sexual experiences have significance that goes beyond the private domain. They are strongly correlated to overall physical and mental wellbeing, protect against sexual (re)traumatisation and for most people have a major impact on quality of life. For several decades, Ellen Laan has been investigating the underlying central and peripheral mechanisms of sexual response and how these differ between genders, and the causal and perpetuating determinants of sexual dysfunction.

As a professor, she has focused on clinical evaluation of complex multifactoral pain syndromes such as dyspareunia and vulvodynia, and on their role in pelvic floor overactivity, trauma and insecure attachment. In addition, she conducts research into effective treatments for sexual dysfunction caused by gynaecological, oncological and obstetric disorders and gynaecological and oncological interventions. Her work also seeks to contribute to care for children and adolescents with chronic conditions whose psychosexual development has been impaired by illness and treatment. By assuming a more active role in public informational campaigns aimed at the prevention of sexual problems, she further hopes to promote sexual health among Dutch adolescents and adults.

The AMC-UvA Sexology Department has the ambition to become a multidisciplinary centre of expertise on tertiary care for women and men who experience pain during intercourse and abdominal and pelvic pain without a clear somatic cause. Collaboration with the VUmc will afford expansion of its existing sexological care to people with pre- and post-transition gender dysphoria.

Dr Laan lectures in the Bachelor's and Master's programmes in Medicine and Psychology, and is a guest lecturer at VU Amsterdam, Utrecht University, Ghent University and in various sexology postdoctoral programmes.

She is a certified psychologist (BIG-register) and sexologist (NVVS) and has been affiliated with the UvA's Psychology Department since 1989. In 2005, she joined the AMC-UvA's Sexology and Psychosomatic Obstetrics and Gynaecology departments. In March 2012, Dr Laan received an honorary doctorate from the Faculty of Medicine at KU Leuven.