The germinal epithelium is a thickened layer of cells covering the sex organs during early embryonic development. In females, the epithelium covers the ovary. In males it covers the gonads and produces spermatocytes, which mature into sperm cells.
Early gonads, both testes and ovaries, are located in the posterior abdominal wall. The outside of the ovary is covered by a mesothelium that is called the "germinal epithelium," which is a misnomer because it contains no germ cells. This epithelium imparts a dull gray color to the ovary. In males the gonads descend, usually before or shortly following birth, into the scrotum.