Dare to Be 100: Sex and Aging... Tend Your Ember

07/30/2013 02:41 pm ET Updated Sep 29, 2013

"Snow on the roof, fire in the furnace," captures the increasingly discussed and studied topic of older sexuality.

Talk about a taboo! The whole domain of sex in old age has been a forbidden fruit denied in almost biblical terms: dirty, sinful, shameful. Kinsey, Masters and Johnson, and Alex Comfort dared the heresy. Dr. Alex Comfort, Cambridge geriatrician, author of "The Biology of Senescence," holder of six honorary degrees, a dazzling academic career, wrote the 1972 blockbuster best seller (over 12 million copies sold), "The Joy of Sex, The Gourmet's Guide to Lovemaking."

He likened chastity to starvation, both unnatural and dangerous. His book had no salacious intent. He categorically differentiated the hedonistic from the reproductive elements inherent in sex, and boisterously endorsed the pleasure principle. His book was liberating.

Old sex deserves to come out of the closet. We had no sex classes in medical school in 1955. In fact, my ignorance quotient was profound until sex therapist Dr. Diana Wiley challenged me in open forum about my knowledge of the topic. I was embarrassed.

One way to learn is to teach, so I set up a series of talks with local gynecologist, urologist, and endocrinologist friends. I didn't know what to expect.

No worry, it was packed, men and women equally represented. Questionnaire responses were aggregated into three scientific papers that we published in good scientific journals in the 1996-99 period.

Our results predictably affirmed the high degree of continued interest and involvement in sexual activity of both men and women as they aged. I delighted in the clear evidence that physical exercise is a strong aphrodisiac.

Different gender results were seen, Venus and Mars (VIVE LA DIFFERENCE!). Male problems were mostly hydraulic in nature. Female problems centered mostly on availability. Extensive discussion and problem solving resulted. This forum continues in the excellent website Libido For Life (www.LibidoForLife.com) that I endorse and participate in.

I am very troubled, however by the many studies that indicate when a wife dies, the husband dies soon thereafter. But when the husband dies first it doesn't seem to trouble the wife. Mother Nature appears to favor her daughters.

At age 83, married 60 years, I embrace the notion that sex, like other vital functions, has no expiration date printed on its licensure.

Sex is intrinsic to the life force, a survival mandate.

Who, where would be without it?

Nobody, nowhere.