When asked to by their doctor, more than a third of women with urinary tract infection symptoms are willing to delay antibiotic treatment, according to a study published online in BMC Family Practice.

Bart J. Knottnerus, from the University of Amsterdam, and colleagues recruited healthy, non-pregnant women from 20 general practitioner (GP) practices. The participants had contacted their GP with painful and/or frequent micturition for no longer than seven days. Urine samples were collected for urinalysis and culture, although without knowing test results, GPs were requested to ask all patients if they were willing to delay antibiotic treatment.

The researchers found that, of the 137 women who were asked by their GP to delay antibiotic treatment, 37 percent were willing to delay. After seven days, 55 percent (28/51) of delaying women had not used antibiotics and 71 percent (20/28) of these women reported clinical improvement or cure. No women developed pyelonephritis.

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“The majority of delaying women report spontaneous symptom improvement after one week,” the authors write.